Big congratulations go out to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle today on their recent engagement. Royal weddings are always exciting events and capture the imagination of audiences the world over.
If you’re interested in the Royal Family, the wedding will be a great opportunity to settle in with the TV for a night of grandeur and high society. You’ll get to see the elite of the UK strutting their stuff with parades, horse-drawn carriages, beautiful churches, and lots and lots of hats. However, if your knowledge (like mine!) of who’s who in Britain’s leading family is a little bit thin on the ground, you might be missing out on what makes the event so special. There’s a whole host of names and faces involved and it can all get a little confusing.
Have no fear, however. I’ve done all the research to make sure you know exactly who you’re looking at. With this short guide – The Royal Family Explained – you’ll understand all the impact of those special moments that will go down in history for generations.
Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
How could we start off with anyone but the matriarch of the family and, indeed, of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth – Queen Elizabeth II. Born Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, she became queen of the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand in 1952. She is also the queen of 12 other commonwealth countries that have since earned their independence. She married in 1947 to Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, who renounced his titles before they wed. Together they have four children, Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward.
The Prince of Wales
Elizabeth’s firstborn heir and the first in line to the throne is her son Charles, Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, and Duke of Rothesay, Scotland. Prince Charles is perhaps the second most iconic figure in the family, and his life has received much attention from fans all over the world. From his marriage to Princess Diana of Wales to their extra-marital affairs, divorce, and the tragic traffic accident that ended her life, Charles and his family have always been in the public eye. Though he is now married to his long-time girlfriend, Camilla Parker Bowles, he had two children with Diana – William and Harry.
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge & Prince Henry of Wales
Ok, so this is where the names and titles get a little confusing, so I’ll explain slowly. Prince William is Charles’ first son and will eventually take the throne after his father. He married to Catherine Middleton, the now Duchess of Cambridge, in 2011 and they have two children together, Prince George and Princess Charlotte.
William’s younger brother is Prince Henry of Wales, though he is most commonly known as Prince Harry. It’s important here not to confuse Prince Henry of Wales with Charles, Prince of Wales. The title ‘Prince of Wales’ is a personal title given to the heir apparent to the throne, and is distinct from Harry’s title ‘Wales’ which is used in lieu of a last name. The date of Harry’s marriage to Meghan Markle is yet to be announced, but we’re all excited to watch it.
We hope that’s given you a little more clarity on who’s who in the Royal Family. If you’d like to get up close and personal with the history of the British Royal Family, we highly recommend our Historic Royal Palace tours.