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:
Lowercase royal wedding and royal couple. They are informal designations that could be applied even when very minor royals get married.
For more royal guidance, check out our new Topical Guide: https://t.co/M4K5EZvlE3#royalwedding #harryandmeghan
— AP Stylebook (@APStylebook) May 8, 2018
[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:
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will officiate at the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. On second reference he can be called Welby, or the archbishop, or the archbishop of Canterbury. For more: https://t.co/r2hpb4AYIg
— AP Stylebook (@APStylebook) May 17, 2018
The formal name for the royal court of the British sovereign is the Court of St. James’s. pic.twitter.com/OAYQ5sMhlQ
— AP Stylebook (@APStylebook) April 23, 2018
For an amusing example of word usage and capitalization, AP Stylebook provided a royal example:
This is Stylebook editor @PaulaFroke‘s favorite new entry, too.
The Knights of the Round Table will hold a roundtable discussion after seating themselves at a round table. They likely will refer to their meeting as a roundtable. https://t.co/AZdwPr1P35
— AP Stylebook (@APStylebook) April 27, 2018
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:
Capitalize the popular names of monuments and similar public attractions: Lincoln Memorial, Statue of Liberty, Washington Monument, Leaning Tower of Pisa, etc.
— AP Stylebook (@APStylebook) March 5, 2018
Punctuation and other AP style tips
Along with royals’ titles, don’t forget to use proper punctuation.
The period and the comma always go within the quotation marks. The dash, the semicolon, the colon, the question mark and the exclamation point go within the quotation marks when they apply to the quoted matter only. They go outside when they apply to the whole sentence.
— AP Stylebook (@APStylebook) May 16, 2018
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.
How not to write: Pivoting from her image as cheerleader touting pricey government entitlements, Mayor Begonia Jargonne voiced profound dismay at plunging revenue enhancements as she pushed back against self-professed economists who fault her policies. pic.twitter.com/FGZ3Age8To
— AP Stylebook (@APStylebook) March 27, 2018
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.”
Some understand the words notorious and notoriety to refer simply to fame; others see them as negative terms, implying being well-known because of evil actions. Be sure the context for these words is clear, or use terms like famous, prominent, infamous, disreputable, etc.
— AP Stylebook (@APStylebook) March 29, 2018
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.
Printing of the spiral-bound 2018 AP Stylebook is underway. (One word, no hyphen) This is our biggest Stylebook ever, with the new polls and surveys chapter bringing us to 630 pages.
We ship books to our annual delivery customers May 25, then begin taking orders May 30. pic.twitter.com/4gP91O70zF
— AP Stylebook (@APStylebook) May 14, 2018