Kate vs. Catherine; the royal name dilemma
Tuesday, March 8, 2011; 1:11 PM
BELFAST, Northern Ireland -- Call her Kate, at least for now.
It may be years before Kate Middleton becomes queen, but questions are already being raised about the princess-to-be's preferred moniker: Queen Kate or Queen Catherine?
Ever since her engagement became official in November, palace officials - and her fiance, Prince William - have taken to calling her Catherine, the name used on the official, gold-embossed invitations to their nuptials at Westminster Abbey on April 29.
"Catherine" sounds more formal, regal and fitting for a future queen, experts say.
But Middleton herself may not embrace the change just yet. During a joint visit Tuesday with Prince William to Northern Ireland, Middleton mentioned casually that she thinks of herself primarily as Kate.
"I'm still very much Kate," said Middleton, when a woman outside Belfast City Hall asked what name she preferred.
The "Kate" versus "Catherine" debate has emerged in recent weeks because of William's switch in using it and because "Catherine" or the initial "C" is being imprinted on official wedding memorabilia and commemorative china.
"I think that Catherine does have a more historic feel to it; there have been several queen consorts called Catherine in British history," said Charles Kidd, editor of the blue-blood bible Debrett's Peerage. "So Queen Catherine does sound quite familiar. It has a historic ring to it."
He said Kate also sounds pleasant but reminds him of the feisty character in "Kiss Me Kate," a Cole Porter musical that features William Shakespeare's play "The Taming of the Shrew."
"I imagine she'll be known as Catherine but the tabloids and majority of the press will continue to call her Kate, so in the general sense she'll be known as Kate," he said.
According to the official royal wedding website, which has already received more than 2 million visits since it started up last week, Middleton does not prefer one name over the other. It says Middleton used the name "Catherine" when she was growing up with her family but tends to use the more casual "Kate" in her professional life.
"Miss Middleton uses both names equally, and she has never expressed a preference for either Catherine or Kate since her engagement," the website states.