September 8, 2022

Following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the Associated Press Stylebook put together a style guide Thursday to help journalists covering the British royal family.

Elizabeth (“the queen” is also acceptable on second reference) was Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and the head of the Commonwealth. She has been succeeded by her eldest son, who has announced that he will take the name King Charles III. He was previously known as Prince Charles and was the Prince of Wales.

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and the eldest son of Charles and the late Princess Diana, is next in the line of succession.

Other names of note for those reporting on the royal family:

  • Prince Philip: The queen’s late husband.
  • Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall: Charles’ second wife and the Queen Consort.
  • Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge: William’s wife, formerly known as Kate Middleton. The style guide notes that AP stories sometimes refer to “Prince William and his wife, Kate.”
  • Prince Harry: The younger son of Charles and Diana and the Duke of Sussex.
  • Meghan, Duchess of Sussex: Harry’s wife, formerly known as Meghan Markle.

In addition to the line of succession, the style guide outlines the British monarchy’s accession rules. Though Charles is now king, his formal coronation will likely not take place for several months.

Other style points to keep in mind:

  • Both “royal family” and “royals” are lowercase: The royal household refers to the family and palace officials and staff.
  • Royal titles are lowercase unless paired with a name: “Capitalize king, queen, prince and princess when they are used directly before one or more names; lowercase when they stand alone.”
  • “BBC” is acceptable on first reference.
  • Balmoral Castle: “The queen’s summer residence in Scotland.”
  • Buckingham Palace: The official residence of the British royal family. On second reference, use “the palace.”
  • the Commonwealth: “A grouping of 53 independent nations formerly known as the British Commonwealth. … The queen was head of the Commonwealth, and she was still head of state of the UK and 14 member nations, known as Commonwealth Realms.”
  • the United Kingdom: “The abbreviation U.K. is acceptable as a noun or adjective. Use UK (no periods) in headlines.”
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Angela Fu is a reporter for Poynter. She can be reached at or on Twitter @angelanfu.
Angela Fu

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