Prince William and Kate Middleton
© Mario Testino
Once Prince William
and Kate Middleton
exchange vows, they will be known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – new titles from the Queen, announced early Friday.
"The Queen has today been pleased to confer a Dukedom on Prince William of Wales. His titles will be Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Strathearn and Baron Carrickfergus," Her Royal Highness's Press Secretary reported
."Prince William thus becomes His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge, and Miss Catherine Middleton on marriage will become Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge."
The Duke of Cambridge has been a royal title since the reign of Charles II in the 1600s. Before the wedding, it was considered to be the frontrunner in the title race
, as the last holders of the title came from Queen Mary's family, and Prince William
's great-great-great-great grandfather, Prince Adolphus Frederick, was the first modern Duke of Cambridge.
And, much like William, 28, he was described as being a lively, popular figure and a military man. He was also a great supporter of charities, literature and the sciences.
The second title, the Earldom of Strathearn, is likely to be used when the couple are in Scotland or visiting on official duties. As a couple, they'll be the Earl and Countess of Strathearn. The Barony of Carrickfergus is a Northern Irish title. So, the couple will be Lord and Lady Carrickfergus – again, likely used when they're in Northern Ireland.
Upon the Queen's death, William will automatically inherit the title of Duke of Cornwall from Prince Charles, 62, who would then step up to the throne. Once Charles settles into his crown, he will also pass on the title of Prince of Wales to William.
It seems only then can Kate's fans officially call her Princess Catherine. Even though she marries a prince, this does not automatically qualify her to be a princess since she does not have royal roots.
"She will, by right of her husband, be Princess Catherine, and I'm quite sure people will refer to them as Prince William and Princess Catherine," William Bortrick, royal editor of Burke's Peerage
tells PEOPLE, "but strictly speaking, in an official communications it will he HRH The Duke of Cambridge and HRH the Duchess of Cambridge. I should imagine that informally people will refer to them as Prince and Princess Catherine."