Do you know the difference between regnant and regent? How “The Household” is different from “The Firm?” The translation of annus horribilis? Then congratulations, you’re well on the way to becoming a royal family expert! In order to truly understand the royal family and their protocols, you need to be well versed in their lingo. So we’ve compiled a handy list of the most important terms used in and around Buckingham Palace and explained what each of them mean. You’re welcome.
“The Firm” sounds like it describes a place of work, and in a way… it does. This is the term that describes not only the royal family but also all of the palace staff, advisors, courtiers, and so on who actually keep things running.
Apparently, this bit of royal slang came directly from King George VI, father of Queen Elizabeth II and grandfather of King Charles III. He reportedly once said that the royals were “not a family, we’re a firm.” Sounds a bit harsh, in a way, but the royals ran with it.
This apparently random selection of letters actually stands for His — or Her — Royal Highness. It’s a royal title, and as with all royal titles, there are some pretty strict and complicated rules surrounding it.
Basically, if you’re the child of a monarch, you’re an HRH. For example, Prince William is currently His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, and you should call him “Your Royal Highness” if you ever run into him. But when he becomes King, he’ll be a HM: His Majesty.
If someone is wealthy and titled, they’re “blue blood.” If that sounds a bit snobby, then well, it’s meant to be! There was a time when a person with “blue blood” simply could never have married a person without it.
Historians think the phrase comes from the time when bright white, almost translucent skin was popular among the upper classes of Europe. If you could see someone’s blue veins through their skin, that was a sign they were wealthy and didn’t have to work outside in the Sun like everybody else.
When in January 2020 Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry stepped down as working royals, it became such a big story that it earned its own name. Yep, this was “Megxit”. Of course, it’s a play on the term “Brexit,” shorthand for Britain leaving the European Union.
Harry hates the term, though. In November 2021 he claimed during a Wired panel, “Maybe people know this and maybe they don’t, but the term ‘Megxit’ was or is a misogynistic term, and it was created by a troll, amplified by royal correspondents, and it grew and grew and grew into mainstream media.”