Majesty (abbreviation HM, oral address Your Majesty) is an English
word derived ultimately from the
Latin maiestas, meaning greatness,
and used as a style by many monarchs, usually kings or emperors. Where
used, the style outranks [Royal] Highness. It has cognates in many
other languages, especially
Indo-European languages of Europe.
2 Style of a head of state
2.1 In the United Kingdom
2.2 In ancient China
2.3 In Japan
2.4 In Brunei
Originally, during the Roman republic, the word maiestas was the legal
term for the supreme status and dignity of the state, to be respected
above everything else. This was crucially defined by the existence of
a specific crime, called laesa maiestas (in later French and English
law, lèse-majesté), consisting of the violation of this supreme
status. Various acts such as celebrating a party on a day of public
mourning, contempt of the various rites of the state and disloyalty in
word or act were punished as crimes against the majesty of the
republic. However, later, under the Empire, it came to mean an offence
against the dignity of the Emperor.
Style of a head of state
The term was first assumed by Charles V, who believed that—following
his election as Holy Roman
Emperor in 1519—he deserved a style
greater than Highness, which preceding emperors and kings had used.
Francis I of France
Francis I of France and
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII of England followed his
After the fall of the Holy Roman Empire,
Majesty was used to describe
a monarch of the very highest rank— it was generally applied to God.
Variations, such as "Catholic Majesty" (Spain) or "Britannic Majesty"
(United Kingdom) are often used in diplomatic settings where there
otherwise may be ambiguity (see a list).
A person with the title is usually addressed as "Your Majesty", and
referred to as "His/Her Majesty", abbreviated "HM"; the plural "Their
Majesties" is "TM". Emperors (and empresses) use "[His/Her/Their/Your]
Imperial Majesty", "HIM" or "TIM".
Princely and ducal heads usually use "His Highness" or some variation
thereof (e.g., His Serene Highness). In British practice, heads of
princely states in the
British Empire were referred to as Highness.
In monarchies that do not follow the European tradition, monarchs may
Majesty whether or not they formally bear the title of King
or Queen, as is the case in certain countries and amongst certain
Africa and Asia.
In the United Kingdom
Main article: Style of the British sovereign
In the United Kingdom, several derivatives of
Majesty have been or are
used, either to distinguish the
British sovereign from continental
kings and queens or as further exalted forms of address for the
monarch in official documents or the most formal situations. Richard
II, according to Robert Lacey in his book Great Tales from English
history, was the first English
King to demand the title of 'Highness'
or 'Majesty.' He also noted that, '...previous English Kings had been
content to be addressed as "My Lord" '.
Most Gracious Majesty
Most Gracious Majesty is only used in the most formal of occasions.
King Henry VIII decided
Majesty should become the style of
the sovereign of England. Majesty, however, was not used exclusively;
it arbitrarily alternated with both
Highness and Grace, even in
official documents. For example, one legal judgement issued by Henry
VIII uses all three indiscriminately; Article 15 begins with, "The
Highness hath ordered," Article 16 with, "The Kinges Majestie"
and Article 17 with, "The Kinges Grace."
Pre-Union Scotland Sovereigns were only addressed as Your Grace.
During the reign of James VI and I,
Majesty became the official style,
to the exclusion of others. In full, the Sovereign is still referred
to as His (Her) Most Gracious Majesty, actually a merger of both the
Scottish Grace and the English Majesty.
Britannic Majesty is the style used for the monarch and the crown in
diplomacy, the law of nations, and international relations. For
example, in the
Mandate for Palestine
Mandate for Palestine of the League of Nations, it was
Britannic Majesty who was designated as the Mandatory for
Britannic Majesty is famously used in all British
passports, where the following sentence is used:
Her Britannic Majesty's Secretary of State Requests and requires in
the Name of Her
Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the
bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance, and to afford the
bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary.
Most Excellent Majesty is mainly used in Acts of Parliament, where the
phrase "The King's (or Queen's) Most Excellent Majesty" is used in the
enacting clause. The standard is as follows:
BE IT ENACTED by the Queen's [King's] most Excellent Majesty, by and
with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and
Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of
the same, as follows:
In ancient China
Main article: Chinese honorifics § Emperors
In Empire of China, an honorific (陛下) of
Emperor of China (皇帝)
Main article: Japanese honorifics § Royal_and_official_titles
In Japan, an honorific (陛下) of Reigning
In Brunei, a Malay title for the
Sultan of Brunei
Sultan of Brunei is Kebawah Duli Yang
Maha Mulia, Paduka Seri Baginda Sultan (KDYMMPSBS) or simply Kebawah
Duli. It literally means "Under the dust of the Most Exalted [God],
The Victorious Sovereign".
It reflects the title of Zilullah-fil-Alam ("Shadow of
God on Earth"),
referring to the Sultan as having a small bit of God's immense power.
The title paduka means "victorious" from
Old Malay while seri is an
honorific from Sanskrit. The title baginda is a third-person noun for
royals and prophets.
Look up majesty in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
^ Royal Styles and the uses of "Highness"
^ Great Tales from English History, Robert Lacey.
Styles used by monarchs and royalty
Imperial and Royal Majesty (HI&RM)
Apostolic Majesty (HAM)
Most Faithful Majesty
Most Faithful Majesty (HFM)
Fidei defensor (FD)
Britannic Majesty (HBM)
Most Excellent Majesty
Most Gracious Majesty
Members of sovereign
and mediatised families
Imperial and Royal