Highness (abbreviation: HSH, oral address: Your Serene
Highness) is a style used today by the reigning families of
Liechtenstein and Monaco. Until 1918, it was also associated with the
princely titles of members of some German ruling and mediatised
dynasties and with a few princely but non-ruling families. It was also
the form of address used for cadet members of the dynasties of France,
Italy, Russia and Ernestine Saxony, under their monarchies.
Additionally, the treatment was granted for some, but not all,
princely yet non-reigning families of Bohemia, Hungary, Italy, Poland,
Romania and Russia by emperors or popes. In a handful of rare cases,
it was employed by non-royal rulers in viceregal or even republican
In a number of older English dictionaries, serene as used in this
context means supreme; royal; august; marked by majestic dignity or
grandeur; or high or supremely dignified.
1 German-speaking lands
2 Francophone dominions
6 United Kingdom
13 See also
15 External links
The current, legal usage of the style in the German-speaking countries
is confined to the Princely Family of Liechtenstein, the entirety of
which bears the treatment.
The German term is Durchlaucht, a translation of the Latin
(su)perillustris. This is usually translated into English as Serene
Highness, however, it would be more literal to translate it as
superior to, above, beyond or greater than illustrious, as it is an
augmentation of Erlaucht ("illustrious"), which was accorded to
immediate counts (Reichsgrafen) of the
Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire and by
mediatised counts of the
German Confederation and the German Empire.
The 1911 edition of the
Encyclopædia Britannica wryly observes that a
perfectly logical English version might be "Your Transparency".
In 1375 Emperor Charles IV bestowed the nobiliary style Durchlauchtig
(Most Serene Highness) upon the seven Prince-electors designated by
the Golden Bull of 1356. As from 1664 Emperor Leopold I vested all
Imperial Princes with the title, it became so common that the Electors
like the Archdukes of Austria began to use the superlative address
Durchlauchtigst. In the German Empire, the style of Serene Highness
was usually held by princes of lower rank than those who were entitled
Highness (exceptions were the Wettin cadets of the Ernestine
duchies), Grand Ducal Highness, Royal Highness, and Imperial Highness.
Therefore, if a woman entitled to the treatment of Royal Highness
married a man who was addressed only as Serene Highness, the woman
usually retained her pre-marital style.
In 1905 Emperor
Franz Joseph I of Austria
Franz Joseph I of Austria granted the style of
Durchlaucht to members of virtually every family which had held the
title of prince in the former Holy Roman Empire, even if the family
had never exercised sovereignty.
In the German and Austrian empires of the 19th and 20th centuries, the
Highness was also officially borne by:
Cadet branches of the sovereign Ernestine dukes (i.e., Saxe-Altenburg,
Saxe-Meiningen, Saxe-Coburg and Gotha);
Reigning Fürsten of the small German realms which survived the
collapse of the Holy Roman Empire;
Hohenzollern (yielded sovereignty to Hohenzollern kinsman, the King of
Prussia, in 1848)
Waldeck and Pyrmont
Mediatised princes and dukes (e.g., Ratibor), and, eventually, their
Morganatic princes, descended from reigning dynasties;
Other non-reigning princes of the German nobility, but not (always)
their cadets (e.g., Bismarck, Carolath-Beuthen, Pless, Wrede).
By tradition, Durchlaucht is still attributed to the princely
dynasties which were sovereign until 1917 or had been mediatised under
Austro-Hungarian Empire and
German Confederation in 1815, although
the usage has been unofficial since 1918.
There is some evidence that in pre-Revolutionary France, unlike
Germany, one entitled to be addressed as Serene
considered to outrank someone who was merely addressed as Highness.
Those members of the royal family who were not children or
grandchildren of a king, i.e., the princes du sang, were entitled to
be addressed as "Most Serene Highness" (son altesse sérénissime).
The simple style of "Highness" (altesse) was claimed by the princes
étrangers and the princes légitimés. In fact, these formal styles
were seldom employed in conversation, since the princes du sang used
unique styles (e.g. Mademoiselle, Monsieur le Prince), while the ducal
peers, led by the proud Duc de Saint-Simon, avoided conceding the
altesse to the princes étrangers and bâtards royals, prompting
nobles of lesser rank to do likewise.
The reigning Prince of Monaco, Albert II, is addressed as His Serene
Highness. His wife, children and younger sister, Princess Stéphanie,
are also referred to as Serene Highness. His elder sister, Princess
Caroline, was also styled Her Serene
Highness prior to her 1999
marriage, but is styled Royal
Highness since then, even during the
period when she was officially "The Hereditary Princess of Monaco" as
heiress presumptive to the throne. In French, both male and female
versions are Son Altesse Sérénissime (S.A.S.), which translates,
literally, as "His/Her Most Serene Highness".
In the Republic of Venice, also called "the Serene Republic", the Doge
was known as Serenissimus ("Most Serene") as was the
Children of the Savoy kings and crown princes of Italy were entitled
to the treatment of Royal Highness, but more remote descendants in the
male-line were Serene Highnesses by right (although often the style of
Highness was granted to them ad personam, e.g., the Dukes of
Aosta, Dukes of Genoa).
The mediatised House of Thurn and Taxis, entitled to the Serene
Highness treatment in the German Empire, has a non-dynastic cadet
branch, the Dukes di Castel Duino, which obtained naturalisation in
Italy in the 20th century. When incorporated into the Italian
nobility, their use of the Serene
Highness style was authorised by the
In the First Republic of Poland (1569-1795), also called "the Most
Serene Republic of Poland", His/Her Serene Reigning
Majesty (SRM) was
a style used by the reigning monarchs.
After 1886, great-grandchildren of Russian emperors in the male-line,
and their descendants, were princes or princesses, and accorded the
treatment of Serene Highness. The exception was the senior male by
primogeniture in the patrilineal descent of each great-grandson, who
retained the higher style of Highness.
Strictly, the Russian term, Svetlost, was an honorific used in
adjectival form (Светлейший: Svetleyshiy) to refer to
members of a select few of Russia's princely families (e.g. "The
Serene" Prince Anatoly Pavlovich Lieven or "The Serene" Prince Dmitri
Vladimirovich Golitsyn). However, when translated into non-Slavic
languages and used in reference to a member of the imperial Romanov
family, it was usually rendered as Serene Highness.
Queen Victoria elevated each of the princes who married her daughters
Highness (except for Crown Prince Friedrich of Prussia,
husband of Victoria, Princess Royal, who already possessed the HRH).
This included, on 30 January 1884, HSH Prince Henry of Battenberg,
husband of Princess Beatrice. That couple's children were
granted the style of
Highness by their British grandmother by letters
patent 4 December 1886.
Several morganatic branches of reigning German dynasties took up
residence in the
United Kingdom in the 19th century, where their
German princely titles and style of Serene
Highness were recognized by
the sovereign. Included in this group were Princess Edward of
Saxe-Weimar, Princess Victor of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, the dukes and
princes of Teck and the princes of Battenberg.
During World War I, King
George V revoked recognition of the style
Serene Highness, hitherto used by some relatives of the British Royal
Family who used German princely titles but lived in Britain. George
V's queen consort was born "Her Serene
Highness Princess Mary of
Teck", and Prince Philip's mother had been born "Her Serene Highness
Princess Alice of Battenberg". The Tecks (descended from the royal
house of Württemberg) and the Battenbergs (descended from the Grand
Dukes of Hesse and by Rhine) were compensated with multiple peerages,
Marquess of Cambridge and
Earl of Athlone
Earl of Athlone for the former, and
Marquess of Milford Haven
Marquess of Milford Haven and
Marquess of Carisbrooke
Marquess of Carisbrooke for the
The following titleholders or families are authorised by the Crown to
use the style Serene Highness:
Dukes and princes of Arenberg
Dukes of Beaufort-Spontin
Dukes and princes of Croÿ
Princes of Habsburg-Lorraine (archducal cadets resident in Belgium)
Lobkowicz (resident in Belgium)
Dukes and princes of Looz-Corswarem
Princes of Stolberg-Stolberg
Before 1947, the style His/Her Serene
literally: "His/Her High Dignity") was in use in Hungary. Peers with
the title of prince were entitled to it, and between 1920 and 1944 the
regent, Miklós Horthy, was styled as His Serene
Highness the Regent
of the Kingdom of Hungary (Őfőméltósága, a Magyar Királyság
As the most powerful noble family in Portugal, the Dukes of Braganza
had the official treatment of Serene
Highness until 1640, when they
mounted the Portuguese throne, thereby becoming entitled to the style
of Royal Highness, however the infantes not in direct line for the
Portugal were titled as "His/Her Highness, the Serene
From 1853 to 1855 the president of Mexico, Antonio Lopez de Santa
Anna, enjoyed the official style of Most Serene Highness, a treatment
unique in that country.
Agustin I de
Mexico gave that title to several members of his family.
In 1807 Manuel de Godoy, Prince de la Paz, was accorded the style of
Most Serene Highness, a treatment unique in that country at the time.
Previous to this grant the style was sometimes used by the Catholic
Monarch Isabella and Ferdinand as well as by other houses known
anciently as illustrious or serene. A majority of these ancient houses
lost the style through prescription. 
The honorific (Spanish: El Serenísimo Señor) is one of the styles of
In Thailand, the title of Serene
Highness is the westernized style of
the Thai title of Mom Chao (His/Her Serene
Thai: หม่อมเจ้า), denoting the grandchild of a king
through one of his princely sons. In present-day Thailand, there are
very few Mom Chao left after the royal family discontinued the
traditional practice of polygamous marriages, and in Thailand all
royal titles and styles decrease one level every generation for those
not of the immediate royal family, therefore the child of a Mom Chao
would only have the aristocratic title of Mom Rajawongse, which would
then decrease in the next generation to Mom Luang, which would then
decrease further, similar to a British life peerage.
Style (manner of address)
Most Serene Republic
SAS (novel series), named after Son Altesse Sérénissime, French
version of the honorific.
Almanach de Gotha
Almanach de Gotha (Gotha: Justus Perthes, 1944), pages 111-113, 115
Almanach de Gotha
Almanach de Gotha (Gotha: Justus Perthes, 1944), pages 73, 94, 97,
98, 121, 124, 126
^ a b Velde, François. "Royal Styles and the uses of "Highness"".
Heraldica.org. Retrieved 1-3-2009. Check date values in:
^ Spanheim, Ézéchiel (1973). Émile Bourgeois, ed. Relation de la
Cour de France. le Temps retrouvé (in French). Paris: Mercure de
France. pp. 107–108.
^ Christoph Franke, ed. (1997). Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels
Fürstliche Häuser Band XV (in German). Limburg an der Lahn: C. A.
Starke. pp. 33–41.
Almanach de Gotha
Almanach de Gotha (Gotha: Justus Perthes, 1944), page 104
Almanach de Gotha
Almanach de Gotha (Gotha: Justus Perthes, 1944), pages 49
^ a b c Burke's Guide to the Royal Family. London: Burke's Peerage
Ltd. 1973. pp. 293, 303–305. ISBN 0-220-66222-3.
Almanach de Gotha
Almanach de Gotha (Gotha: Justus Perthes, 1944), pages
^ Monitorio áulico By Pascual Maria Massa Martinez (baron del Pujol
Article on the use of Highness
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