Why Kate Middleton inherited Princess Diana's title and Camilla, the Queen Consort, did not

Kate Middleton is the first person to use the Princess of Wales title since Princess Diana passed away in 1997

Camilla, the Queen consort and Princess Kate Middleton
(Image credit: Stefan Rousseau - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Kate Middleton (opens in new tab) was made the Princess of Wales when King Charles III took the throne (opens in new tab) and passed his Prince of Wales title down to his eldest son, Prince William (opens in new tab)

Despite heavy news coverage stating that Prince William inherited King Charles' former title of the Prince of Wales when Charles took the throne in early September, the title was not automatically passed down and King Charles used his first speech as monarch to bestow the honour on his heir. 

"Today, I am proud to create him Prince of Wales," the king said of William during his first speech as monarch on the 9th of September 2022.

With her husband gaining the title of Prince of Wales, Kate Middleton became the Princess of Wales, marking the first time the title has been used since Princess Diana's death in 1997.

"With Catherine beside him, our new Prince and Princess of Wales will, I know, continue to inspire and lead our national conversations, helping to bring the marginal to the centre ground, where vital help can be given," Charles added.

The change in title also means that the couple's children, Prince George (opens in new tab), Princess Charlotte (opens in new tab) and Prince Louis (opens in new tab) have new surnames, now using 'Wales' to indicate their parents positions. 

Princess Diana

(Image credit: Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

The Prince of Wales title has been gifted to heirs of the British throne since it was first used by Edward II in 1301, Insider reports. Upon marriage to an heir holding the title, because royal women inherit their husband's titles, the title of Princess of Wales is granted to the bride.

Princess Diana began to use the Princess of Wales title after her marriage to the then Prince Charles in 1981 (opens in new tab). Even after Charles and Diana divorced, she was allowed to keep using the prestigious title but, when Diana died in 1997, the title reverted back to the crown. 

When Camilla married Charles in 2005, she technically became the Princess of Wales as well as the Duchess of Cornwall. But out of respect for the beloved Princess Diana, she opted to be styled only as Duchess of Cornwall.

Adding to this simple explanation, Marlene Koenig (opens in new tab), a royal historian, told Town & Country Magazine that Camilla "was not popular or well liked" when she first married Charles and due to the public "tension and anger" over Diana's death, it was decided that Camilla should not take the title. 

Kate Middleton

(Image credit: Ian Vogler-WPA Pool/Getty Images)

While The Firm (opens in new tab) feared controversy over Camilla taking Princess Diana's title, there were no such fears surrounding Kate Middleton becoming Princess Catherine of Wales.

In a 2022 YouGov poll that ranked the most popular members of the royal family, Kate came in second place with a 68% popularity rating. She was only surpassed by the the late Queen who was ranked first place with a 75% popularity rating.

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