Did you ever notice how Prince William seems to have no last name? In an age where titles seem to matter more and more, what’s actually going on with official royal names? As with everything involving the royal family, it’s all quite confusing.
A Quick History Lesson
For millennia, kings and princes did not have any last name. Why would they need one? They could use the names of their house as needed, but the title of “King” or “Princess” would suffice. This is true to this day.
King George V changed everything in 1917. Instead of being named for his house, Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, he changed the royal moniker to simply Windsor, named for the castle. He made sure to add that this surname applied to all of his male descendants. The surname stayed without issues for decades.
Queen Elizabeth changed things up ever so slightly when she and Prince Philip merged the names of their house. She was the House Of Windsor, he the house of Mountbatten. This name has in turn been passed down through generations, all the way to 2021 at least.
So why don’t we call him Prince Willaim Mountbatten-Windsor? Well, that first title of “Prince” is enough for the last name to never be used. This is also why Prince Harry cannot simply lose the title prince: it’s his birthright and can’t be taken away. It’s a very official designation that usually goes hand in hand with his majesty, Prince William. Using the title is more respectful.
You could call him William Mountbatten-Windsor and you wouldn’t really be wrong, but it’s a bit unnecessary and it’s not the name that appears on his birth certificate, which list a lot of names, but not Mountbatten or Windson. However, this being the complex royal family with its obscure rules and antiquated traditions, the story gets even more complicated.
He Gets To Choose
William and Harry both served in the military, and they used the opportunity to go by the old rules. Both chose the name “Wales” after their father, Prince Charles, title, the Prince of Wales. William became Flight Lieutenant Wales, and Harry became Officer Cadet Wales.
Therefore you could call him Prince William Wales and you wouldn’t be wrong either. His kids, however, wouldn’t have the same name. George could go by Cambridge… for the time being at least, though again, his birth certificate lists no surname.
Let’s review: Prince William can either have 0, 1, or 2 last names depending almost on how he feels that day. He officially has no surname, but he also has option, should he choose to. Should he become king, he would ultimately have the power, as his grandmother and great-great-grandfather did, to change it once more. Officially though, Prince William could write “Prince William” on a check and it would clear.