Originally, during the Roman republic
, the word maiestas
was the legal term for the supreme status and dignity of the state, to be respected above everything else. This was crucially defined by the existence of a specific case, called laesa maiestas
(in later French and English law, lèse-majesté
), consisting of the violation of this supreme status. Various acts such as celebrating a party on a day of public mourning, contempt of the various rites of the state and disloyalty in word or act were punished as crimes against the majesty of the republic. However, later, under the Empire
, it came to mean an offence against the dignity of the Emperor
Style of a head of state
After the fall of the Holy Roman Empire, Majesty was used to describe a monarch of the very highest rank— it was generally applied to God
. Variations, such as Catholic Majesty
(Spain) or Britannic Majesty
(United Kingdom) are often used in diplomatic settings where there otherwise may be ambiguity (see a list
A person with the title is usually addressed
as Your Majesty
, and referred to as His/Her Majesty
, abbreviated HM
; the plural Their Majesties
. Emperors (and empresses) use [His/Her/Their/Your] Imperial Majesty
Princely and ducal heads usually use His Highness
or some variation thereof (e.g., His Serene Highness
). In British practice, heads of princely states in the British Empire
were referred to as Highness.
In monarchies that do not follow the European tradition, monarchs may be called Majesty
whether or not they formally bear the title of King
, as is the case in certain countries and amongst certain peoples in Africa
In Europe, the monarchs of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium use the style. By contrast, the heads of state of Liechtenstein and Monaco, being principalities, use the inferior styles of Highness and Serene Highness, respectively. Luxembourg, a Grand Duchy, accords its monarch the style of Highness. In the Holy See, the Pope – while ruling as Sovereign of the Vatican City State – uses the spiritual style of Holiness. Moreover, while Andorra is formally a monarchy, its Co-Princes – the bishop of Urgell (appointed by the Pope) and President of France – use the republican and non-royal style of Excellency. Andorra is the only non-hereditary, elective and appointive monarchy in Europe.
In Saudi Arabia, King Fahd abolished the style of Majesty in 1975 in favour of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, a style adopted by historical Islamic rulers. However, the King by custom continues to be referred to as Your Majesty in conversation.
Great Britain and the Commonwealth
In the United Kingdom
, several derivatives of Majesty have been or are used, either to distinguish the British sovereign
from continental kings and queens or as further exalted forms of address for the monarch in official documents or the most formal situations. Richard II
, according to Robert Lacey
in his book Great Tales from English history, was the first English King to demand the title of Highness
. He also noted that, '...previous English Kings had been content to be addressed as My Lord
Most Gracious Majesty
is used only in the most formal of occasions. Around 1519 King Henry VIII
decided Majesty should become the style of the sovereign of England. Majesty
, however, was not used exclusively; it arbitrarily alternated with both Highness
, even in official documents. For example, one legal judgement issued by Henry VIII uses all three indiscriminately; Article 15 begins with, "The Kinges Highness hath ordered," Article 16 with, "The Kinges Majestie" and Article 17 with, "The Kinges Grace."
Pre-Union Scotland Sovereigns were only addressed as Your Grace
. During the reign of James VI and I
, Majesty became the official style, to the exclusion of others. In full, the Sovereign is still referred to as His (Her) Most Gracious Majesty
, actually a merger of both the Scottish Grace and the English Majesty.
Her Britannic Majesty's Secretary of State Requests and requires in the Name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance, and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary.
BE IT ENACTED by the Queen's [King's] most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal
, and Commons
, in this present Parliament
assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:
In Brunei, a Malay title for the Sultan of Brunei
is officially Kebawah Duli Yang Maha Mulia Paduka Seri Baginda
(KDYMMPSB) or unofficial simply Kebawah Duli
. It literally means "Under the dust of the Most Exalted
[God], The Victorious Sovereign".
It reflects the title of Zilullah-fil-Alam
("Shadow of God on Earth"), referring to the Sultan as having a small bit of God's immense power. The title paduka
means "victorious" from Old Malay
is an honorific from Sanskrit
. The title baginda
is a third-person noun for royals and prophets.
In Malaysia, the Malay style for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong
and the Raja Permaisuri Agong
is Kebawah Duli Yang Maha Mulia Seri Paduka Baginda
or simply Seri Paduka Baginda
. The Sultan of Johor
and the Permaisuri of Johor use the Malay style Duli Yang Maha Mulia
(DYMM) which is equivalent to His/Her Majesty since 2017. Prior to that, they were addressed as His/Her Royal Highness
in English, similar with the other eight royal state Malay rulers
Look up majesty
in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
- ^ Royal Styles and the uses of "Highness"
- ^ Great Tales from English History, Robert Lacey.
- ^ "Johor Sultan decrees he is to be addressed as 'His Majesty' in English". The Star Online. 5 September 2017. Retrieved 27 May 2018.
Last edited on 6 May 2021, at 04:29
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