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As royalty and nobility often use titles rather than surnames, often change titles, and are often frequently referred to by names which are not unique, using a clear and consistent nomenclature can sometimes be difficult. This page contains a set of conventions for article titles that have been adopted through discussions between Wikipedia editors (see the talk page and its archives, and earlier, Wikipedia talk:History standards).
General policy on the naming of Wikipedia articles can be found at Wikipedia:Article titles. It is generally advisable to use the most common form of the name used in reliable sources in English ("common name" in the case of royalty and nobility may also include a person's title), but there are other things which should be considered: ease of use, precision, concision, and consistency among article titles; and a system constraint: we cannot use the same title for two different articles, and therefore tend to avoid ambiguous titles. For general guidance on finding titles for articles about people, see Wikipedia:Naming conventions (people).
Most of the conventions below are intended to apply to medieval and modern European rulers and nobility, since in these civilizations the same given names are often shared between countries, so some disambiguation is often required, and disambiguation by territory is convenient. The principles used here may also be useful in titling articles on Muslim rulers and nobility. Elsewhere, territorial designations are usually unnecessary in article titles.
For guidance on how to use titles and names within articles, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style (biographies).
For clerical titles (popes, cardinals, etc.), see Naming conventions (clergy).
These following conventions apply to European monarchs since the fall of the Western Roman Empire (but not to the Byzantine Emperors), because they share much the same stock of names. For example, there are several kings and an emperor who are most commonly called Henry IV; their articles are titled Henry IV of England, Henry IV of France, and so on. The same holds for most kings; see James I, Robert I, and so on. The conventions on this page are also recommended, where applicable, for Muslim monarchs, who share their own common stock of names.
For guidance on East Asian monarchs, see Names and titles outside the West below. Roman Emperors are covered by Naming conventions (ancient Romans), and Byzantine Emperors by Naming conventions (Greek).
Monarchies which use a completely different namestock, such as Lithuania and that of the Merovingians, need not follow this convention; there is no disambiguation to pre-empt. Kings of a people, rather than a country or a nation, (for example, the late antique Germanic tribes) usually have no disambiguator, but "of the Goths" etc. should be added to the name if disambiguation is necessary.
For titles of articles on monarchs (with the exceptions referred to above):
- Article titles are not normally prefixed with "King", "Queen", "Emperor" or equivalent.
- Some monarchs have a name by which they are clearly most commonly known (in English), such as a cognomen, patronym, their first name, or some other name, and which identifies them unambiguously; in such cases this name is usually chosen as the article title. Examples include Alfred the Great, Charlemagne, Peter the Great, Mary, Queen of Scots, and William the Conqueror. Less commonly used cognomens are not used as article titles; for example Edward I of England is used rather than "Edward Longshanks".
- Otherwise, kings, queens regnant and emperors and empresses regnant who are known as "first name + ordinal" (with the exceptions mentioned elsewhere) normally have article titles in the form " of ". Examples: Edward I of England; Alfonso XII of Spain; Henry I of France.
- Monarch's first name should be the most common form used in current English works of general reference. Where this cannot be determined, use the conventional anglicized form of the name, as Henry above.
- As regards Country:
- This should be the most common form of the country's name used in current English works of general reference. Where a monarch has reigned over a number of states, use the most commonly associated ordinal and state. For example, Charles II of England, not Charles II of England, Scotland and Ireland; Philip II of Spain, not Philip I of Portugal. It is often desirable to give the other states compensating prominence in the introduction of the article. Create redirects from other possible titles.
- In most cases, the name of the state is used rather than the form that appears in the monarch's actual title. For example, Constantine I of Greece, not "of the Hellenes". In particular, "Great Britain" is used from 1707–1800 (George I of Great Britain), and "the United Kingdom" since 1801 (William IV of the United Kingdom).
- However, in some cases the title rather than the state is followed, including:
- In a few cases consensus has been reached that the country can be omitted, because it is unnecessary, against usage or possibly problematic: Elizabeth II (rather than "Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom") and Napoleon (rather than "Napoleon I of France"). It is also possible to combine a numeral with a cognomen or surname, as in John III Sobieski.
- Where there has only been one holder of a specific monarchical name in a state, the ordinal is used only when it was in official use, as with Juan Carlos I of Spain (not Juan Carlos, King of Spain). When there is no ordinal, the format John, King of England, and Anne, Queen of Great Britain, is recommended, although exceptions can be made on a case-by-case basis, taking account of general article titling policy, e.g. John of Bohemia, Alexander Jagiellon.
- European monarchs whose rank is below that of king (e.g., grand dukes, electors, dukes, princes), should be at the location ", of ". Examples: Maximilian I, Elector of Bavaria, Jean, Grand Duke of Luxembourg. This is often usage, and avoids the question of when these Duchies became monarchies, as opposed to noble offices within the Kingdom of Germany/the Holy Roman Empire.
- Do not apply an ordinal in an article title for a pretender, i.e., someone who has not reigned; instead call them what independent secondary sources in English call them. For example, use Louis Alphonse, Duke of Anjou, not Louis XX, for the legitimist pretender to the French throne. Such a person may however be referred to by a title, for example, Victor Emmanuel, Prince of Naples for the last Italian Crown Prince. But he should not have his article titled Victor Emmanuel IV even though Italian royalists call him so. (Such a name should redirect to the article.)
- Former or deposed monarchs should be referred to by their previous monarchical title with the exception of those who are still alive and are most commonly referred to by a non-monarchical title; all former or deposed monarchs should revert to their previous monarchical title upon death; for example, Constantine II of Greece not ex-King Constantine II or Constantine Glücksburg, Edward VIII not the Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor, but Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha not Simeon II of Bulgaria.
- No family or middle names, except where English speakers normally use them. The exception holds, for example, for Italian Renaissance dynasts. No cognomens (nicknames) in article titles, except when they are the overwhelming usage, as above.
- Make redirects from other plausible names that people might search for or link to, even if strictly incorrect. For example, George III of the United Kingdom should have redirects from George III of England, George III of Great Britain, George III Guelph, King George III (since this is not a disambiguation page) etc.
These conventions will lead to most rulers having no title in the name of their article. However, there is no convention that an article title in the form Name of Place implies the subject is royal; Hildegard of Bingen is one example.
Consorts of sovereigns
Living royal consorts are referred to by their present name and title, as with Queen Sofía of Spain and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. The same applies to living former consorts (sometimes these will have a different title indicating their status as Queen Mother, Queen Dowager, or the like).
Deceased consorts are referred to by a name by which they are commonly known or (if recently deceased) are expected to become known. This can often differ from the name and title they held as consort or at death. Some examples are given below.
- Many consorts are known in English as " of ", like Margaret of Anjou, Isabeau of Bavaria and Mary of Teck, where is the country or House of origin. A title may be included, as with Prince George of Denmark, where it was (as with Prince George) contemporary usage; where it is not, it is not modern common usage either.
- Consorts who are native subjects of their spouses are often known by their maiden name or the title they held in their own right, as with Catherine Parr and James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell.
- Sometimes queens and empresses are traditionally known by the name of their husband's country, as with Marie of Romania.
- Sometimes a person may remain best known by the title they held as consort, as in Albert, Prince Consort.
- Sometimes the name by itself is unambiguous or primary usage, and can be used without any qualifier, as in Marie Antoinette.
- For Russian tsarinas, those of Russian origin have their forename and maiden surname as the article title, while those of foreign origin have their forename and adopted patronymic, with their original name and house in parentheses, e.g. Alexandra Feodorovna (Alix of Hesse).
- Note that the titles "Queen" and "Empress" are generally not included in article titles for deceased consorts, although the title of a consort of a lesser ruling prince (duke, grand duke, etc.) may be.
The diversity of these examples reflects the diversity of English usage. There is no agreed-upon general convention for deceased consorts; there was a proposal that Wikipedia always use the maiden name, or house of origin, for such people; but that rule produces unrecognisable titles too often to be generally applied.
Royals with a substantive title
- If an individual holds a princely substantive title, use ", ". Examples: Charles, Prince of Wales, Anne, Princess Royal, Leonor, Princess of Asturias.
- When dealing with a Crown Prince(ss) (however not consort) of a state, use the form ", Crown Prince(ss) of " unless there is a formal title that unambiguously implies their status as crown prince: Frederik, Crown Prince of Denmark, but Charles, Prince of Wales, Leonor, Princess of Asturias, as the Wales and Asturias titles are traditionally reserved to the heir-apparent.
- If a prince(ss) holds a substantive title that is not princely (a peerage, for instance), use "Prince(ss) , ". Examples: Prince Andrew, Duke of York and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex.
- Numerals are not generally used. Example: Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester, not "Prince Richard, 2nd Duke of Gloucester".
- If a prince(ss) holds a substantive title but is not widely known by it, use "Prince(ss) of ...".
For royalty other than monarchs:
- Use "Prince(ss) of ..." where a prince/ss has a territorial suffix by virtue of their parent's title, e.g. Princess Beatrice of York, Prince Arthur of Connaught, etc.
- Where they have no substantive title, use the form " of ", e.g. Princess Irene of Greece and Denmark. Use only the highest prefix title the person ever held and used (roughly before the 17th century, prince/ss would not be prefixed automatically).
- Do not use styles, such as HRH, as part of a title of an article.
- Do not use surnames in article titles for such persons. If royals have surnames, then this information should be mentioned in the first line of the article (but care should be taken, as many do not have surnames, and personal surnames may differ from the name of their Royal House). For details, see WP:Manual of Style (biographies)#Royal surnames.
- Base the article title on the most senior title a person held (this does not always apply in the case of consorts – see above).
- Members of the British peerage, whether hereditary peers or life peers, usually have their articles titled "Personal name, Ordinal (if appropriate) Peerage title", e.g. Alun Gwynne Jones, Baron Chalfont; Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington; Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston. Redirects from other names are created as appropriate (e.g. Lord Palmerston redirects to the Prime Minister, the third article above; but Lord Normanby is likely to mean any of several men, and redirects to Marquess of Normanby).
- When an individual held more than one peerage, use only the most senior peerage in the article title, e.g. Charles Lennox, 1st Duke of Richmond, not "Charles Lennox, 1st Duke of Richmond and 1st Duke of Lennox" or "Charles Lennox, 1st Duke of Richmond and Lennox". However:
- Single peerages with multiple parts should be used in full: Claude Bowes-Lyon, 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne.
- If a peer is best known by a title which is not the most senior, that may be used instead, as with Frederick John Robinson, 1st Viscount Goderich (not "Frederick John Robinson, 1st Earl of Ripon"), William Petty, 2nd Earl of Shelburne (not "William Petty, 1st Marquess of Lansdowne").
- When individuals became peers but are better known by a courtesy title, use that, e.g. Frederick North, Lord North (not "Frederick North, 2nd Earl of Guilford"), Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh (not "Robert Stewart, 2nd Marquess of Londonderry").
- The use of 1st, 2nd, 3rd... Earl or Baron is a matter of convenience. It is often useful disambiguation (for example, Archibald Kennedy, Marquess of Ailsa could be six of the eight holders of the title); it sometimes identifies a single peer who is called by different first names. When, however, as with some very early earldoms, the numbering is disputed (in the case of the first Scots earldoms, it is artificial) it is acceptable to omit the number or disambiguate by other means. In such cases, redirects or disambiguations from forms with any frequently used numberings are encouraged.
- There are several exceptions to these rules.
- Peers who are almost exclusively known by their personal names, e.g. Bertrand Russell (not "Bertrand Russell, 3rd Earl Russell").
- Peers who are best known by a territorial suffix from their senior title or a courtesy title, e.g. Michael Ancram (not "Michael Kerr, 13th Marquess of Lothian", or "Michael Ancram, 13th Marquess of Lothian"), John Thurso (not "John Sinclair, 3rd Viscount Thurso", etc.).
- Peers who are very well known by their personal names and who only received a title after they retired, e.g. Anthony Eden (not "Anthony Eden, 1st Earl of Avon"), Margaret Thatcher (not "Margaret Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher").
- An exception to the above exceptions is where the peerage title is useful for disambiguation, e.g. Chris Smith, Baron Smith of Finsbury.
- In all cases where the standard form of "Personal name, Ordinal (if appropriate) Peerage title" is not used for the article title, a redirect should exist from the standard form to the article.
- Articles on the wives of hereditary peers are generally headed , , as Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire; using her maiden name and so calling her Georgiana Spencer, Duchess of Devonshire would be anachronism. If the husband is a member of the Royal family, his article will usually have no surname; neither should hers: Diana, Princess of Wales. If a cognomen or maiden name is clearly most commonly used for the subject, and is unambiguous, use it for the title: Bess of Hardwick; make a redirect from the standard form; if a peeress has had several styles, redirects will be useful.
- Baronets should, if no disambiguation is required, have their article located at the simple name, e.g. George Albu (rather than "Sir George Albu, 1st Baronet"). However, if the name is ambiguous and the baronetcy is the best disambiguator from other people with that name, use the full style as the article title: Sir John Brunner, 2nd Baronet (with both prefix and postfix); he shares the name John Brunner with his father and several others.
- If there is more than one Sir John Smith, 2nd Baronet then add the territorial designation of the baronetcy (e.g. Sir William Williams, 2nd Baronet, of Clapton and Sir William Williams, 2nd Baronet, of Gray's Inn).
- A baronet should never be referred to with the title but without "Sir" preceding (e.g. do not use "William Williams, 2nd Baronet, of Clapton").
- A baronet's hereditary title, often held for a large part of his life, should be bolded in the first sentence of the article, as in: Sir George Albu, 1st Baronet (26 October 1857 – 27 December 1935) was...
- Titles of knighthood such as Sir and Dame are not normally included in the article title: e.g. Arthur Conan Doyle, not "Sir Arthur Conan Doyle" (which is a redirect). However, Sir may be used in article titles as a disambiguator when a name is ambiguous and one of those who used it was knighted. A person's full title (including both prefix and post-nominals) should be given in the article itself. Honorary knights – roughly, those not from the Commonwealth – are not called Sir; knights bachelor have no post-nominals.
- Courtesy titles – including honorific prefixes such as Lord or Lady, which differ from full titles in that they are included as part of the personal name, often from birth – should be included in the article title if the person is far better recognised with the title than without. For example, Lord Frederick Cavendish is hardly ever called plain "Frederick Cavendish", and so the Lord is included in the article title.
- Treat other European nobility like British nobility above, adapting for local circumstances; thus Philippe II, Duke of Orléans. For claimants to titles which have been suppressed, as with the dukes of Bavaria, follow the general article titling policy.
- Other names and titles, if any, should appear in the first paragraph of the article so they can be searched for.
- When dealing with nobles from outside the British Isles, be careful of English idiom for anglicized titles.
- British dukes normally have dukedoms, Continental dukes have duchies; but there are exceptions: Duchy of Cornwall is idiom.
- The British peer and his wife are marquess and marchioness; modern idiom for Continental nobles tends to favor marquis. Use margrave for German markgraf.
- British peers (and Scandinavian jarls) are earls; their Continental equivalents are counts; the wives of British and Continental nobles alike are countesses.
Names and titles outside the West
When there is no naming convention for a given set of names and titles, and no widespread problem of disambiguation, Wikipedia's general practice is to use the most common form in English as the article title.
- In East Asian names, look at common English usage to decide whether the western first-name last-name or the eastern last-name first-name order should be used. As a rule of thumb, Japanese names should usually be given in the western, Chinese and Korean names in the eastern order. A redirect from whatever order is not used is almost always a good idea. For guidance on articles relating to specific countries, see:
- for China, Wikipedia:Manual of Style (China-related articles) and Wikipedia:History standards for China-related articles
- for Korea, Wikipedia:Manual of Style (Korea-related articles) and Wikipedia:Naming conventions (Korean)
- for Japan, Wikipedia:Manual of Style (Japan-related articles)
- for Thailand, Wikipedia:Manual of Style (Thailand-related articles)
- for Burma, Wikipedia:Manual of Style (Burmese)
- There is no explicit convention for medieval Armenia; since it had both kings and princes, in some sources with identical names and numbers, the full style may be useful for disambiguation. Reliance on analogy with this page may be rash.
- There is no explicit convention for Middle Eastern countries; but contemporary monarchs with Arabic names are often treated much as this guideline would suggest: Mohammed V of Morocco, Abdullah II of Jordan, Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.