Talk:Style (manner of address)

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Any ideas for a better page name? What about a little NPOV too -- people who think styles for "royalty" are a load of old bunk. -- Tarquin 12:40 Dec 30, 2002 (UTC)


Styles originated with royalty and in religions but are now widely used by all republics. 'Mr. President', which is how one addresses the US president, is his style. It is irrelevant whether one approves or disapproves of a style. Styles exist so Wikipedia needs to define what they are. As to arguing that on NPOV grounds those who think that they are a lot of 'bunk' should be included is patently absurd. We wouldn't say that French royalists should be able to adapt the page on the Fifth French Republic to give the royalist counter-argument, that German Nazis should have a 'right of reply' to an article on the Weimar Republic or Federal Republic of Germany, that British republicans should be able to put a counter-argument on a page on the United Kingdom, that supporters of the American confederacy should be able to put their views on a page on the United States. The reason is simple. The French Republic exists, so does the FRG, the UK and the US. It isn't a matter of opinion but of fact. Similarly, styles exist, so they should be defined as to what they are and how they are used, if people chose to use them. Arguing that they shouldn't exist or that they are 'bunk' IS a point of view, and so is anything but NPOV.

A second reason for clarifying them is that often people don't understand a difference between a title and a style. It is a subtle difference, but a real one. The constant reference to how Princess Diana lost her 'title' when she ceased to be HRH is a classic example. She didn't, she lost her style, which did not apply to her as a person but as the wife of a HRH. When they divorced, in the same way as the ex-wife of a US president would no longer be 'first lady', as that refers to the wife, not ex-wife, of the President, Diana automatically lost her style Diana could have been specially granted a personal style, as the mother of a future king but wasn't.

As to the title - given that they are called 'styles', there is no other word that can be used to describe them. But as styles also have other meanings, it is necessary to have a secondary clarifying definition, namely that what is being examined is style as in manner of address. JTD 21:10 Dec 30, 2002 (UTC)

I have a somewhat different understanding of style and title. The style is the full form used to refer to someone, not just the prefix. The Prince of Wales bears several titles, including Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, and Duke of Rothesay, but his style is (= he is styled) HRH The Prince of Wales (in England) or HRH The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay (in Scotland). The Duke of Wellington is also the Marquess of Douro, those being titles, but he is styled His Grace The Duke of Wellington, and his son is styled by courtesy Marquess of Douro. This said, I don't know of an alternative term for the prefix such as 'HRH', so I'm not complaining about the wording. Gritchka 09:22 19 Jun 2003 (UTC)

Regarding the title: what I meant is that a dash in the title doesn't conform to the Wikipedia standard. There's nothing at Style at the moment, though there probably will be. "Style (manner of address)" is clumsy too. As for the NPOV, I was a little blunt above, I admit. But the article is not NPOV, IMO. It talks of people "retain the use of their style", and "entitled to be called". On what authority? Look at the "fifth world" crackpots who recently invaded Wikipedia -- some style themselves as "HM" etc. Again, on what authority? -- Tarquin 23:46 Dec 30, 2002 (UTC)


A fair point re the dash. I don't know what the solution is. If you can come up with a better solution, by all means do. Re the titles used by exiled monarchs, it is complex but at the same time relatively simple. Monarchical titles are usually presumed to come, to use the version applied to Italian monarchs (I may be slightly inaccurate in the version as I haven't my notes in front of me) 'by the grace of God and will of the people'. The understanding was that a monarchical title was inherited for life, subject to either 'the will of God' or 'abdication'. A 'title' is different to 'office', which is exclusively by 'will of the people' and so can be abolished by legislative decree, Act of Parliament or referendum. Established usage dating back to centuries has always been that where a monarch's office is abolished, their title becomes a personal one for their lifetime, but dies with them. Hence monarchs overthrown in the unification of Italy, monarchs dethroned in the 1918-19 period in Germany, and elsewhere, were allowed in practice to use their title until death, they even been referred to as such in state archives, where files invariably were kept on them in exile. (In my research, I've often had to read such files!!!)
The only exception was where a monarch had themselves abdicated; hence ex-king Edward VIII of the United Kingdom was retitled 'Duke of Windsor'. Napoleon III was referred to as 'ex-emperor of the French', Louis Phillippe as 'ex-king of the French', Charles X as 'ex-King of France'. Similarly William II of Germany after 1918 was referred to as the 'ex-kaiser'. Where the abdication was forced, as occured in Roumania (contemporary spelling) in the 1940s, the ex-king may still be described as 'king' or 'exiled king', as is generally the case with Michael I, who now has a Rumanian diplomatic passport and the use of a former royal palace in the capital.
It is a general convention which has evolved over centuries and is applied in most cases. The most notable case of controversy involves Constantine II of the Hellenes (Greece). There, personal animosity between the exiled monarch and the political elite complicates matters. Leaders like Constantine Karamanlis (ex pm and president) and Andreas Papandreou (left wing pm) made no secret of their belief that Constantine's 'incompetent meddling' (their description, though it does match the facts) caused the coup that produced the regime of the colonels in the mid 1960s. Karamanlis called Constantine '(king) Paul's naughty little boy'! Papandreou's personal animosity, (due in part to a clash between Constantine and his father, George. who was his prime minister, over Andreas's position as Minister for Defence) resulted in the illegal seizure of the exiled monarch's personal property and his being stripped of Greek citizenship, acts condemned by the European Court of Human Rights. Constantine in turn blames the politicians for 'shafting him' by not allowing him to return prior to the referendum on the monarchy, even though his return was widely expected. (And yes, there is some evidence to support his claims too.) So whereas most states follow convention by accepting the right of a non-abdicated monarch to be referred to by personal title after the declaration of a republic for the duration of their life, Greece is a notable, high profile (and generally rediculed) exception. In contrast, Italian President Pertini called on the constitution to be amended in the 1980s, to allow 'King Umberto' (his words) to return to die in Italy. (The King was dying and indeed did die before any such change could be made.).
By the way, Wikipedia wrongly refers to the last Crown Prince of Italy as 'Victor Emmanuel IV'. He may call himself that (exiled royal families often keep up such a pretence) but the kingship of Italy and the all the title 'Victor Emmanuel IV' implies died with his father. Victor Emmanuel is simply the last Crown Prince of Italy, of which there will be no more, merely pretenders, when he dies. I hope this clarifies matters somewhat. I have detailed notes somewhere but it is too late tonight to find them. (Anyway, I am supposed to be working on mybooks, not Wikipedia all the time!!!) JTD 01:01 Dec 31, 2002 (UTC)

I'm confused. Should the title of the article go:

HRH Blah Blah Blah, Blah of Blah

or

His/Her Royal Highness Blah Blah Blah, Blah of Blah? ugen64 02:22, Dec 9, 2003 (UTC)

By title, I mean the title paragraph (i.e. His Royal Highness Prince Ugen64, Duke of Nerds (born June 24, 1990) was the Duke of Nerds etc. etc.)... ugen64 02:23, Dec 9, 2003 (UTC)

For kings and emperors I've observed that the article title usually follows the formula Name RomanNumeralIfAny of Country eg Napoleon I of France, Elizabeth II of Great Britain. For prince(sse)s the article title formula has usually been Office Name of Area, such as Prince William of Wales. Hope this helps. knoodelhed 16:50, 5 May 2004 (UTC)
This is covered in Wikipedia:Naming Conventions Rmhermen 16:59, May 5, 2004 (UTC)

I've made a minor correction to the entry for US Presidents, and changed the formatting to conform with the rest of the entries. I've also removed the sentence on former US Presidents under "Styles & Titles of Deposed Monarchs," which was both factually incorrect and totally incongruent with the section it was in.

The style "Mr. President" isn't limited to spoken usage: the correct salutation of a letter to a sitting US President, for instance, is "Dear Mr. President." Also, while it's true that former US Presidents traditionally retain the right to use the title President, it's not at all true that they're referred to as if they were still in office. The correct way of directly addressing a former President is "President Carter," (for instance); it's never correct to call him "Mr. President," which is, strictly speaking, reserved for the sitting President. If you're addressing a letter to a former President, the correct form to use is "The Honorable Jimmy Carter," though that rule is so little-known it could fairly be said to no longer be valid. Even if you address the letter to "President Jimmy Carter," though, it's not at all the same as the correct way address a letter to the sitting President, which is "The President of the United States."

I'd suggest that if we want to deal with this issue here at all, the best way to go about it is to create a separate section for it, perhaps called something like Former Government Officials (and I'm sure that any number of equally complicated rules for the former officials of various other countries also exist and could be included). Shoehorning it in with deposed monarchs just doesn't work.

Narzos 21:52, 16 Jul 2004 (UTC)

I posted this on the President of the United States page and then noticed that it occurred here as well: according to the Washington Post's Ettiquette Maverick, former presidents may (or should) not be referred to as President (name) but instead by their highest previous title... would we believe the WP? Or has the rule passed out of date or is so little observed (or never existed in the first place) such that it's not worthy of mention? Or should we keep the rule (assuming that someone can confirm it) and note that it's generally ignored? cevonia 14:18, Oct 27, 2004 (UTC)

This article may not be the place to do it, but the discussion of titles of office in the U.S. Congress (and in the federal gov't generally) needs more work. In particular, the article currently uses the phrase "the distinguished gentleperson" incorrectly. By the rules of each chamber, members are never to refer to each other by given name, nor are they permitted to speak directly of the other body, in the course of debate. All debate must be addressed to the presiding officer, except in the House when engaging in a colloquy. The forms used are:

  • In the House of Representatives:
    • When addressing the Speaker of the House or the Speaker pro tempore, "Mr. (Madam) Speaker".
    • When addressing the Chairperson of a committee (including of the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union), "Mr. (Madam) Chairman".
    • When addressing the President of the Senate (i.e., the Vice President) or President pro tempore of the Senate, when the House and Senate are in joint session, "Mr. (Madam) President".
  • In the Senate:
    • On the Senate floor, always "Mr. (Madam) President". (The Senate never resolves into a Committee of the Whole.)
    • In committee, "Mr. (Madam) Chairman".

This is different from how members are allowed to refer to each other, and also different from how members of the public would address or introduce a member of Congress:

  • When referring to the President (either of the Senate or of the United States), "the President".
  • When referring to the Speaker of the House, "the Speaker" (or, in the Senate only, "the Speaker of the House of Representatives").
  • When referring to the holder of a specific office (Majority/Minority leader, Chairman of the X Committee, Ranking Member of the X Committee), "the [office], Mr. (Ms. or Mrs.) X". The name of the committee is omitted if it is the sitting committee.
  • When referring to any other member of the House of Representatives, "the gentleman (gentlelady) from [state], Mr. (Ms. or Mrs.) X". Representatives are always referred to by the state they represent, not by any particular locality or district, as they legally represent the entire state.
  • When referring to any other member of the Senate, "the Senator from [state], Mr. (Ms. or Mrs.) X".
  • The adjective "distinguished" may be inserted after the definite article (i.e., "the distinguished gentleman", "the distinguished Senator").

In formal written addresses and very formal introductions, as both sender and recipient, it is standard practice to write "the Honorable Given M.I. Last" for all members of Congress, federal judges (except Justices of the Supreme Court), cabinet secretaries, chairpersons and commissioners of independent agencies, current and former ambassadors. Where this fits with the office varies, but in most cases one would write "XYZ Agency, the Hon. John Doe, Chairman", but one would say "the Chairman of the XYZ Agency, the Honorable John Doe". In written salutations, one writes "Dear [title] [surname]"; e.g., "Dear Congressman Markey" or "Dear Chairman Powell".

On a totally unrelated note, the formal style of the Governor of Massachusetts when referred to in the third person is "His Excellency the Governor". I'd be curious if this is a common usage or just crotchety old Massachusetts.

18.26.0.18 05:31, 4 Aug 2004 (UTC)

"Universal" use for republics

Is there any source for the claim that "styles are used universally in republics worldwide"? I'm not disputing it - I know nothing about the subject. I'm just wondering where it came from. -- Vardion 11:15, 12 Sep 2004 (UTC)