The Birth Certificate of Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge

You won’t see many birth certificates like this one, at least not in my family. The father and mother of the newborn child have occupations listed as “prince” and “princess.”

Click on the image above to view a larger version.

The birth has been officially registered in the City of Westminster.

Charlotte is fourth in line to the throne, behind Prince George who turns two on July 22. Prince Harry has been pushed back into fifth place, while Prince Andrew — the Queen’s second son and the new child’s great uncle — is now sixth in line.


One thing I don’t yet understand about the Royals’ surnames: I hear they have them but they don’t use them. Still, if they *have* them, wouldn’t surnames need to be included on official records such as birth certificates?


    It depends upon how “royal” the person is. The immediate family don’t use a surname, for example Princess Charlotte. Less immediate family do use a surname as for example “Lady Helen Windsor”
    Exceptions to this are when an alias or nom-de-plume are convenient, for example “William Wales” when Prince William was in the armed forces – and even then it was only a matter of convenience, not his “real” name.
    I’m not sure of the demarcation line, buts probably whether or not you are a Prince of Princess.


    I thought it was the other way round – officially they don’t have them – the “name and surname” you see above, are their official names. For practical purposes, sometimes systems need “surnames” so surnames get plucked out the of air. Harry is / was Captain Wales in the Army. The Royal House is the House of Windsor, even though the family surname would have been expected to change on the marriage of the present Queen. So “Windsor” also gets used as a surname.

    But in the UK, officially, we can call ourselves what we like. All of us.


    I think I finally get it. An English friend once struggled to answer my question about Queen Elizabeth’s surname and decided it was “Windsor.” Now it’s starting to make sense. I guess it really isn’t so problematic for genealogists and civil and/or ecclesiastical officials after all. For myself, I just have to think of surnames in a new perspective, differently from a North American one.


    One more question: if you all can call yourselves whatever you want, can you also make changes to the first chosen surname at will? In my UK genealogical research a variety of spelling variants often come up that need to be accommodated, of course. There are at least fourteen I’ve noted for my Saxon maiden name, especially once the immigrant(s) got across The Pond, but a few variants exist in UK as well. Nobility often have multiple titles, one record showing a different title from another. Anyone I’ve known in UK and Ireland has a surname that seems to be connected to birth or adoption circumstances. But can anyone exercise the option of a complete change of surname he/she was born with, by personal choice, without recourse to legal proceedings, once it’s already been used officially? If someone wants to change his/her birth surname, is it a legal procedure with commensurate fee to pay to do it, or does anyone official care about that?


Before he married Prince William was “Prince William of Wales” – His father being “Prince of Wales” and when being “low key” he would sign “William Wales”. In the RAF he was “Flight Lieutenant William Wales”.

On marriage, Her Majesty created him as the Duke of Cambridge, so in short form his name became “Prince William, Duke of Cambridge” – at least in England and Wales (it’s different in Scotland and Northern Ireland!). It is a bit like changing your name by deed poll – from Wales to Cambridge.

This obsession with carrying a surname through the male line is so Western/male – centric! Most family tree programs can handle changing surnames so I don’t see why we should not.


Is there any significance to the placement of the title “His/Her Royal Highness”. For William and Charlotte it precedes the given names, but for Catherine, it follows her given names on this birth certificate.


    It was the same on Prince George’s birth Certificate.

    I suspect that it is for the same reason that she is not Princess Catherine (of Wales) but Princess William of Wales. Princess Charlotte is Princess Charlotte because she was born a princess; Catherine became a princess by marriage to a prince.

    (Compare Princess Michael of Kent – who is married to Prince Michael of Kent, Grandson of George V – and Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, daughter of Her Majesty the Queen. Also traditionally married women in the UK were/are referred to by their husband’s names – for instance Mrs David Cameron – this practice is going/has gone out of use.)


Re Carol Menges comment about changing your name in the UK.

Change your name by deed poll

1. Overview

You don’t have to follow a legal process to start using a new name. But you might need a ‘deed poll’ to apply for or to change official documents like your passport or driving licence.

There are different rules for changing your name in Scotland.

Get a deed poll

A deed poll is a legal document that proves a change of name. You can change any part, add or remove names and hyphens, or change spelling.

It doesn’t cost anything to make your own deed poll. Specialist agencies and solicitors may charge a fee to do it for you.

You must be 18 or over to make a deed poll.

There are extra rules about changing a child’s name.

Marriage and civil partnership

You don’t need a deed poll to take your partner’s surname. Send a copy of your marriage or civil partnership certificate to record-holders, eg benefits offices. Your documents will be updated for free.
If you divorce or end your civil partnership

You may be able to go back to your original name by showing record-holders either your:

marriage certificate and decree absolute
civil partnership certificate and final order

Some organisations won’t change your name back without a deed poll.

2. Make an adult deed poll

You’ll need to do one of the following:

use the official forms – do this if you want the name put on the official register (sometimes called being ‘enrolled’)
make your own deed poll
use a specialist agency or a solicitor

There are different rules if you want to change a child’s name.

Use the official forms

You can put your new name on public record by ‘enrolling’ it at the Royal Courts of Justice. This costs £36.

Read the leaflet on enrolling a name change – it explains what you’ll need to do and the fees you’ll have to pay.

You must fill in these forms:

change of name deed

statutory declaration for an adult

You’ll also need to fill in a form so that a notice will appear in The Gazette.

Send your forms and documents to:

Queen’s Bench Division
Action Department
The Royal Courts of Justice

Make your own deed poll

If you don’t want to register your deed poll, you can make your own instead, using the following wording:

“I [old name] of [your address] have given up my name [old name] and have adopted for all purposes the name [new name].

Signed as a deed on [date] as [old name] and [new name] in the presence of [witness 1 name] of [witness 1 address], and [witness 2 name] of [witness 2 address].

[your new signature], [your old signature]

[witness 1 signature], [witness 2 signature]”

Some record-holders only accept a new name that’s been ‘enrolled’ using the official forms.

UK Government Website | Change your name by Deed Poll
© Crown Copyright All content is available under the Open Government Licence v3.0, except where otherwise stated

There was a lot of name changing during the 1914-1918 War due to anti German feeling. Even the Royal Family Changed its name!

On 17 July 1917, by a royal proclamation “Declaring that the name of Windsor is to be borne by his Royal House and Family and reliquishing the use of all German titles and dignities” George V declared:

Now, therefore, We, out of Our Royal Will and Authority, do hereby declare and announce that as from the date of this Our Royal Proclamation Our House and Family shall be styled and known as the House and Family of Windsor, and that all the descendants in the male line of Our said Grandmother Queen Victoria who are subjects of these Realms, other than female descendants who may marry or may have married, shall bear the said Name of Windsor.

London Gazette

Publication date: 17 July 1917
Issue: 30186
Page: 7119
(this comes up in page 2 of the issue – move back one page!)


    Polly, Thank you for your in depth answer! Now I remember why this came up for me in the first place many years ago; my memory was jogged because of your quoting George V. I’d been confused by the change. I’d heard the royal family’s surname before WWI and it all-of-a-sudden changed in the early 20th century, and I wondered which name applied or if both names were used (since they were still relatives of the German part of the family), or what–and I didn’t think of the war connection at all. For sure I hadn’t heard the king’s proclamation. ‘Makes great sense now. Thank you again!


In this day and age, why is the certificate handwritten?


    Handwritten because the registrar went to Kensington Palace rather than the Duke of Cambridge going to her office. I believe at the offices they do have computers – my father’s death was registered (at a registrars office) via what looked like a custom Lotus Notes application.


    Not only hand written, but written with a “fountain pen” (not a ball point). The registrar at my daughters wedding told me that the original certificate(s) are hand written using a high iron content archival quality ink, which is longer lasting than anything that can be done electronically / mechanically. The original records are still held in paper copy rather than on computer.


To be accurate , that isn’t a birth certificate – it is the original register entry of birth which normally would not be seen outside of the registration service once it has been completed and signed. Birth certificates are certified copies of the information contained in the register entry.

It is handwritten because when conducting a registration away from the office as in this case it is far easier to just take a blank form and a pen rather than the logistical effort of laptops, secure connections, printers and forms that would otherwise be needed for something that probably took about 5 minutes to do.

The registrar would transfer the details to the computer system on their return to the office and the original document (the one shown) will go into the vault. Any certificates roduced subsequently can then be computer generated.


The Royal family “surname” officially is Windsor after July 1917 when it was changed from Saxe Coburg Gotha by George V in light of the anti-German sentiment during WWI. Several members of the Queen’s immediate family use a double barreled Mountbatten-Windsor as their personal surname. I think it was The Princess Royal, then known as Princess Anne who first used this surname on the certificate when she married Mark Phillips. Since then all of the Queen’s children and their family have used it at sometime especially in legal documents.

As for Catherine’s entry on the birth certificate. She was not born a royal so therefore is only a Princess/HRH by marriage. Her official name is Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge or Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cambridge.


Dick, thanks so much for posting this–it was fun to read.
I liked your comment about the parent’s occupation. And it ended up being quite educational with comments from English heritage followers…


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