This article is about the dynastic use. For the song by Envy & Other Sins, see Highness (song)
. For the song by Simon Townshend, see Animal Soup
, oral address Your Highness
) is a formal style
used to address (in second person
) or refer to (in third person
) certain members of a reigning
or formerly reigning dynasty
. It is typically used with a possessive adjective
: "His Highness", "Her Highness" (HH), "Their Highnesses", etc. Although often combined with other adjectives of honour
indicating rank, such as "Imperial", "Royal" or "Serene", it may be used alone.
is, both literally and figuratively, the quality of being lofty or above. It is used as a term to evoke dignity
, and to acknowledge the exalted rank of the person so described.
History in Europe
Abstract styles arose in profusion in the Roman Empire
, especially in the Byzantine
Styles were attached to various offices at court or in the state.
In the early Middle Ages
such styles, couched in the second or third person, were uncertain and much more arbitrary, and were more subject to the fancies of secretaries than in later times.
In English usage, the terms Highness, Grace
, were all used as honorific styles of kings, queens and princes of the blood
until the time of James I of England
Thus in documents relating to the reign of Henry VIII of England
, all three styles are used indiscriminately; an example is the king's judgment against Dr. Edward Crome
(d. 1562), quoted, from the Lord Chamberlains
' books, ser. I, p. 791, in Trans. Roy. Hist. Soc. N.S. lOX. 299, where article 15 begins with Also the Kinges Highness hath ordered
, 16 with Kinges Majestie
, and 17 with Kinges Grace
. In the Dedication of the Authorized Version of the Bible of 1611, James I is still styled Majesty and Highness; thus, in the first paragraph: "the appearance of Your Majesty, as of the Sun in his strength, instantly dispelled those supposed and surmised mists ... especially when we beheld the government established in Your Highness and Your hopeful Seed, by an undoubted title". It was, however, in James I's reign that Majesty became the official style.
At the conclusion of the Congress of Vienna
in 1815, His/Her Highness
), became prevalent for reigning dukes and members of their dynasties in Germany (e.g. Anhalt
, the three Ernestine duchies
of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
, and Saxe-Altenburg
, as well as Schleswig-Holstein
); for cadets
of some German grand ducal
houses (e.g., Mecklenburg-Schwerin
); and cadet members of some imperial
families (e.g., Russia
, the Netherlands
). That custom remains official in the Danish
and Norwegian dynasties. The Almanach de Gotha
and Burke's Peerage
continued to ascribe Highness
to members of deposed dynasties
of ducal rank.
Example of official holders of the style Highness:
- His Highness Prince Maurits of Orange-Nassau, Van Vollenhoven, son of HRH Princess Margriet of the Netherlands and Mr. Pieter van Vollenhoven, the maternal grandson of HM Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, and nephew of HM Queen Beatrix. Upon his mother's marriage, it was decreed that her children would be known as HH Prince(ss) <name> of Orange-Nassau, Van Vollenhoven.
- His Highness Prince Nikolai of Denmark, son of HRH Prince Joachim of Denmark and HE Alexandra, Countess of Frederiksborg, the paternal grandson of HM Queen Margrethe II of Denmark.
- His Highness Prince Sverre Magnus of Norway son of HRH Crown Prince Haakon and HRH Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, the paternal grandson of HM King Harald V of Norway.
Usually members of an imperial or royal dynasty are addressed as Imperial Highness
or Royal Highness
(French Altesse Impériale, Altesse Royale
; German Kaiserliche Hoheit, Königliche Hoheit
; Spanish Alteza Imperial, Alteza Real
, etc.) respectively.
In modern times Serene Highness
) is used as the equivalent of the German Durchlaucht
. In the 17th century it became the general style borne by the heads of the reigning princely states of the Holy Roman Empire (reichsständische Fürsten
), as "Illustrious Highness (Erlaucht
) became customary for those of the comital
houses (reichsständische Grafen
, i.e. Counts of the Empire). In 1825 the Imperial German Diet agreed to grant the style Durchlaucht
to the heads of all mediatized
princely houses domiciled in Germany elevated to the rank of Fürst
are also styled Durchlaucht. In 1829 the style of Erlaucht, which had formerly been borne by the reigning Counts of the empire, was similarly granted to the mediatized countly families (Almanach de Gotha
, 1909, 107).
was the style accorded to princes of the British Royal Family
who were the male-line
great-grandchildren of a British sovereign (and the wives/widows of great-grandsons), except the eldest son of the Prince of Wales
. In 1917 George V
revoked authorization for use of that style.
The children and grandchildren in the male-line of a British sovereign were and are addressed as Royal Highness
(His or Her Royal Highness, abbreviated HRH
), as are the children of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales (decree of 31 May 1898).
The sovereign has the right as a legal fons honorum
to grant or revoke use of the style of Highness, as with other styles, titles and honours.
Republican and non-royal usage
In the Spanish-speaking world
, a handful of leaders historically enjoyed the official, if often ephemeral, style of Highness
) or variations thereof.
with the exceptional (and not strictly non-royal) style of Royal Highness
Furthermore, according to the provisions of Royal Decree 1368/1987 promulgated by King Juan Carlos I
in 1987, a Regent
of Spain is to enjoy the style of Highness
(as well as protocolary honours equal to those of the Prince of Asturias
), unless they were to possess rank conferring a higher style.
During the short-lived Luz de America
uprising of 1809 in modern-day Ecuador
, the Junta de Gobierno Autónoma de Quito
("Autonomous Government Junta
of [the Royal Audiencia of] Quito
"), granted its President, Juan Pío de Montúfar, 2nd Marquis of Selva Alegre
, the style of Most Serene Highness
, while claiming for itself the collective dignity of "Majesty
" (as it purported to be acting in the name of King Ferdinand VII
). Selva Alegre's pseudo-monarchical government, which was formed following Napoleon's invasion of Spain
in 1808 and lasted for a mere seventy-five days, was considered by both contemporaries and later historians to be a thinly-disguised effort to establish a "Kingdom of Quito"; Selva dressed himself in regal vestments, bestowed honours on citizens, and instituted the National Order of San Lorenzo
(which was much later revived by Ecuadorian President Camilo Ponce Enríquez
Shortly before the inauguration of George Washington
as the first President of the United States
, then-Vice President John Adams
organised a Congressional committee
on the matter of the title and style of the President. There Adams agitated for the adoption of the style of Highness
(as well as the title of Protector of Their [the United States'] Liberties
) for the President.
Others favored the variant of Electoral Highness
or the lesser Excellency
, the latter of which was vociferously opposed by Adams, who contended that it was far beneath the presidential dignity, as the executives of the states, some of which were also titled "President" (e.g. the President of Pennsylvania
), at that time often enjoyed the style of Excellency
; Adams said that the President "would be levelled with colonial governors or with functionaries from German princedoms" if he were to use the style of Excellency
. On further consideration, Adams deemed even Highness
insufficient and instead proposed that the Executive, both the President and the Vice President (i.e., himself), be styled Majesty
, with only which the "great danger" of insufficient dignity being attached to the executive could be solved.
Adams' efforts were met with widespread derision and perplexion; Thomas Jefferson
called them "the most superlatively ridiculous thing I ever heard of", while Benjamin Franklin
considered it "absolutely mad".
The proposal came to naught, and American Presidents, from Washington onwards, have eschewed honorific titles and styles altogether and are simply referred to as Mr. President
In modern-day Samoa
, the O le Ao o le Malo
, the Samoan head of state, has since the country's independence enjoyed the title of Highness
, as do the heads of the four paramount chiefly dynasties
. However, as all of the heads of state, elected by the Fono
, the country's parliament (which is itself almost entirely composed of customary chiefs), since independence have been one of the four chiefs, it is ambiguous as to whether the country constitutes a parliamentary republic
or a democratic elective monarchy
of Qatar, Kuwait and UAE also use the style of Your Highness.
Regardless of the official traditions in the various colonial empires, the style is evidently used to render, often merely informally, various somewhat analogous titles in non-western cultures, regardless whether there is an actual linguistic and/or historical link. Furthermore, in North America
, some chiefs of certain indigenous tribes or nations use the style of Highness, which may or may not be recognised by their governments.
The Aga Khan
was granted the style of His Highness
by Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom in 1957 upon the death of his grandfather Aga Khan III
. This has been a traditional gesture by British sovereigns since the Aga Khan III allied himself with Britain against Afghanistan.
Variations and precedence
While the actual precedence depends on the rank itself, and sometimes more specifically on the monarchy, rather than on the style of address, the holders tend to end up roughly in the following order of precedence:
- His/Her Imperial and Royal Highness (HI&RH)
- His/Her Imperial Highness (HIH)
- His/Her Royal Highness (HRH)
- His/Her Grand Ducal Highness (HGDH), used by junior members of the houses of Luxembourg, Grand Ducal Hesse, and Baden
- His/Her Highness (HH)
- His/Her Exalted Highness (HEH), used only by the Nizam of Hyderabad, the pre-eminent Indian princely ruler
- His/Her Sultanic Highness (HSH), a rare, hybrid western-Islamic honorific style, exclusively used by the son, daughter-in-law and daughters of Sultan Hussein Kamel of Egypt
- His/Her Ducal Serene Highness (HDSH)
- His Most Eminent Highness (HMEH), a hybrid with His Eminence, created in 1630 for the Grand Master of the Knights of Malta, as Prince of the Holy Roman Empire at par with a Cardinal (Prince of the Church).
- His/Her Most Serene Highness (HMSH)
- His/Her Serene Highness (HSH)
- His/Her Illustrious Highness (HIll.H)
- ^ a b c d e Pine, L.G. (1992). Titles. New York: Barnes & Noble, Inc. pp. 36, 69, 92, 94, 104, 148–149. ISBN 978-1-56619-085-5.
- ^ Selden, Titles of Honor, part I, Ch. vii. p. 100
- ^ a b c One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Highness". Encyclopædia Britannica. 13 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 456.
- ^ "His Highness Prince Sverre Magnus". Monarchy of Norway. Retrieved 30 April 2011.
- ^ "Top 100 in line to the throne". Channel 4. 27 March 2009.
- ^ "Crown Office". The London Gazette (60384): 213. 8 January 2013.
- ^ British Royal Family Website. The Queen and Honours. The Royal Household. Buckingham Palace. accessed 5 February 2019.
- ^ "Real Decreto 1368/1987, de 6 de noviembre, sobre régimen de títulos, tratamientos y honores de la Familia Real y de los Regentes". Boletín Oficial del Estado. Agencia Estatal Boletín Oficial del Estado. Retrieved 22 November 2014.
- ^ Pimentel, Rodolfo Perez. "Juan Pío Montúfar y Larrea". diccionariobiograficoecuador.com. Diccionario Biográfico del Ecuador. Retrieved 22 November 2014.
- ^ Sible, Randy. "The Life of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna: Savior, Emperor, President, and Dictator". Latin American Studies. Retrieved 22 November 2014.
- ^ a b c Hutson, James H. (March 1968). "John Adams' Title Campaign". The New England Quarterly. 41 (1): 30–39. doi:10.2307/363331. JSTOR 363331.
- ^ Amos, Deborah (1991). "Sheikh to Chic". Mother Jones. p. 28. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
- ^ "Saudi Arabia: HRH or HH? - American Bedu". 7 August 2016. Archived from the original on 7 August 2016.
- ^ "Family Tree". datarabia.com. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
Last edited on 4 May 2021, at 01:48
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