AP Stylebook’s guide to the royal wedding

If you’re penning an article about the marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, these tips can help you avoid capitalization, punctuation and other unsavory writing errors.

AP Stylebook to royal wedding

Saturday’s royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle has grabbed headlines and inspired marketing stunts.

If you’re writing about the affair, AP Stylebook put together a topical guide for the big day to help ensure your copy is clean.

Here are several things to keep in mind:

Nobility and titles

Markle will receive her title from Queen Elizabeth II on Saturday. Many think that the queen will bestow the titles of duke and duchess of Sussex. No matter the title the queen gives, Markle will not formally be known as Princess Meghan (though you’ll probably see it splashed across future headlines in tabloids).

Don’t capitalize “royal wedding” or “royal couple.” AP Stylebook explained in a tweet:

[FREE DOWNLOAD: 10 punctuation essentials]

In its guide, AP Stylebook wrote:

References to members of the nobility in nations that have a system of rank present special problems because nobles frequently are known by their titles rather than their given or family names. Their titles, in effect, become their names. Generally follow a person’s preference, unless the person is widely known in another way.

The guidelines below relate to Britain’s nobility. Adapt them as appropriate to members of nobility in other nations.

Orders of rank among British nobility begin with the royal family. The term royalty is reserved for the families of living and deceased sovereigns.

Next, in descending order, are dukes, marquesses or marquises, earls, viscounts and barons. There are also life peers who are appointed to the House of Lords and hold their titles only for their lifetimes. On first reference to a life peer, use the person’s ordinary name, e.g., Margaret Thatcher or Jeffrey Archer. Elsewhere, if relevant, explain that the person has been appointed to the House of Lords.

Capitalize titles when they appear before one or more names, such as Queen Elizabeth II or her longer title, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. Note that “the queen” or “Elizabeth” is acceptable on second reference. Prince Philip, who is married to Elizabeth, should be written as “Philip” on second reference.

When used alone, don’t capitalize such titles as “queen,” “prince,” “princess,” “duke” and “duchess.” This is also good practice to employ when using titles of executives and other communications leaders.

Don’t forget about other titles of those involved in the royal wedding, either:

For an amusing example of word usage and capitalization, AP Stylebook provided a royal example:

Locations and landmarks

Harry and Markle’s wedding will take place in St. George’s Chapel, which is located in Windsor Castle. AP Stylebook provides the following information on both:

St. George’s Chapel: The chapel where the wedding will be held. The British spell it St George’s Chapel but AP style is St. George’s Chapel. King Edward IV set in motion the building of the chapel in 1475. It is a masterpiece of the late Gothic style and has been used for a number of royal weddings. Princess Eugenie, a granddaughter of the queen, will marry Jack Brooksbank there in October.

Windsor Castle, located about 25 miles west of London, has been a royal home and fortress for more than 900 years. The queen uses it as a private home, often spending weekends there, and as an official residence where she holds formal events and conducts royal business and meetings. It is in horse country, allowing the queen to pursue her love of horse racing, and is near to the Royal Ascot course and other favored locales for horse lovers. The queen also often uses the castle, which has extensive grounds, to host state visits from visiting monarchs and heads of state. Should be called the castle on second reference.

Capitalization rules extend to other monuments and public attractions:

Punctuation and other AP style tips

Along with royals’ titles, don’t forget to use proper punctuation.

Though a royal wedding with large numbers of nobility present might carry formal language, you should also cut down on jargon and unnecessarily complex sentences. PR pros should keep this in mind for all copy, especially corporate press releases.

When referring to members of royal families or the celebrities who are friends with them, watch your wording. That includes cutting out terms such as “notoriety.”

Whether you want to learn more about writing for royal events or other helpful AP style tips, the 2018 edition of AP Stylebook will be available on May 30.

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