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Why royals keep their titles after their country abolishes the monarchy

As more than 4.1 billion people tuned in to watch Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral on Monday, many scratched their heads at some of the royals in attendance.

Queen Anne-Marie of Greece and Crown Prince Pavlos have confused some viewers, as the Greek monarchy was abolished after a referendum in 1974 and its members live in exile in London.

Margareta, the Custos of the Crown of Romania, who was also at the funeral, holds her title, even though in 1947 the communists forced the king to abdicate the throne.

While the Romanian royal family was allowed to return in 1997 and had their royal residences returned, their existence remained largely superficial.

However, a general rule of etiquette is to refer to a royal by their titles, even if they have been deposed and their country does not recognize them or their hereditary appellations.

Another convention is that a royal retains the titles he held at the time of deposition until his death, without the usual succession applying. For example, a king will retain this title, but his children will not inherit it upon his death. Thus, a crown prince will remain so, even in the event of the death of his parents.

A tweet has gone viral after a BBC viewer questioned the legitimacy of referring to Pavlos using the full title, His Royal Highness and Crown Prince.

“Come on BBC. Greece abolished their monarchy a long time ago so please respect that,” wrote Twitter user Damian Mac Con Uladh, @damomac, before adding, “My Greek sons have just asked “who is this guy? Greece has no kings and princes.'”

Greece and Romania aren’t the only countries where royals from defunct monarchies still receive their titles. Germany and Italy have nobles often referred to as prince or princess.

Siblings Prince Albert and Princess Elizabeth von Thurn and Taxis are descendants of the German royal family, which was abolished in 1919 after the Weimar Constitution removed the legal privileges and nobility of monarchs. German nobles kept only traces of their hereditary titles in their surnames.

Thus, according to German law, the prince’s name is Albert Prinz von Thurn und Taxis – prinz is the German word for prince.

The same rule applies to Princess Caroline of Monaco’s third husband, Ernst August Prince of Hanover. She took her title after their marriage, although it has no legal basis, and she became Her Royal Highness The Princess of Hanover.

This followed the tradition of a wife taking her husband’s name if his rank was higher than his, and the fact that she would have taken that name if the Hanoverian monarchy still existed.

In Italy, Vittorio Emanuele is called the Prince of Naples of the House of Savoy and is the only son of the last king of Italy, Umberto II.

He spent the majority of his life in exile after the 1946 referendum called for the abolition of the monarchy, but was allowed to return in 2002 after signing an agreement with the Italian government to give up any claim to the throne.

Vittorio’s son, Emanuele, was born in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1972 and is known as the Prince of Venice, although he only set foot in Italy in 2002.

Until then, the Italian constitution had prohibited male heirs to the Savoy dynasty from entering the country.

The Greek royal family occupies a rather unique position in the world of defunct monarchies.

If they live in exile in London and are very close to the British royal family, they also descend from the Danish throne since the King of Greece George I was the son of King Christian IX of Denmark.

Even more than a century after King George’s death, members of the Greek royal family hold the title Prince or Princess of Denmark because of their connection to King Christian IX. They even had succession rights to the Danish throne until 1953.

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