the TUDOR TUTOR

Your cheeky guide to the dynasty

Royal Name-Calling

Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II X

Image via Wikipedia

We could probably think of a lot of names to call Henry VIII, if we were into that kind of thing. But, name-calling isn’t nice, for one thing. For another thing, sticks and stones would bounce right off that tubby guy (sorry, I guess that counts as name-calling?) and I doubt names would hurt him either.

No, what I’m getting at is the official title used for the head honcho of Jolly Ol’.  Today, if we are lucky enough to meet with the queen, we first address her as “Your Majesty,” and then further in the conversation we switch to, simply, “Ma’am.”

So then: “Your Majesty, it is a pleasure to join you for martinis and scones this morning,” folllowed later by, “Yes, ma’am, I would love another martini though I must graciously turn down an additional scone. But please feel free, ma’am, to ask about a third martini. You are most kind.”  

“Majesty” wasn’t a common form of address for English monarchs until the 16th century. Before that, the usual terms were “Highness” or “Grace” (in Scotland it was “Grace” as well). But when Henry VIII got wind of the king of France and the Holy Roman Emperor using “Majesty,” he snatched that right up and decided it should apply to him, too. And you know what happened if anyone disagreed with him! So “Majesty” it was and is still.

Incidentally, Elizabeth II is officially “Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.”

Henry VIII had a few incarnations, the last of which was “King of England and France, Defender of the Faith, Lord of Ireland, and Supreme Head of the Church of England and of Ireland.”

Because England’s territories changed so much, some titles got very flowery, such as that of Mary I, who at one point was “Queen of England, France, Naples, Jerusalem, and Ireland; Defender of the Faith; Princess of Spain and Sicily; Archduchess of Austria; Duchess of Milan, Burgundy, and Brabant; Countess of Habsburg, Flanders, and Tyrol.” Trying to remember all that deserves a martini in and of itself.

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