The Royal Family Is Required to Know More Than One Language

Updated on August 22, 2019
revmjm profile image

Margaret Minnicks is an online writer who writes about the royal family.

When most people were in high school, a foreign language was an elective. Some students took French, Spanish, or German. In college, they had the same choices with more added such as Latin, Russian and others.

In seminary, students might be required to study Hebrew and Greek. That's because the original language of the Old Testament was Hebrew. The original language of the New Testament was Greek.

Members of the royal family are required to know more than one language, and most of them know more than one. Even the young children know some languages other than English.

Charles, the Prince of Wales, knows more languages than the other members of the family. The oldest son of Queen Elizabeth and next in line to the throne knows four languages while Prince Harry is the only member of the immediate family knows only English.

Below is a chart indicating what languages Prince Charles knows along with a list of languages other members of the family know. Notice that Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex is the exception. He knows only one language. However, in his travels to foreign countries, he has probably picked up a few words especially those pertaining to greetings and well-wishing.

Queen Elizabeth
English, French
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
English, French, German
Charles, Prince of Wales
English, French, German, passable Welsh
Camila, Duchess of Cornwall
English, French
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge
English, French, Welsh
Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge
English, French
Prince George (5 years old)
Learned to count in Spanish when he was four years old
Princess Charlotte (3 years old)
Knows Spanish words she picked up from nanny
Prince Louis (8 months old)
Not talking yet
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex
Only English
Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex
English, Spanish, knows greetings in other languages

As you can see from the above chart, most members of the immediate royal family know French. That particular language is the most common foreign language taught at schools in the United Kingdom.

The Queen and many of the others speak fluent French. Knowing French comes in handy because Queen Elizabeth's menus are always written in French. Over the years, she has become familiar with some German words as well as some Italian, Spanish, and Irish words. However, she knows very little of those languages.

Prince Charles knows Welsh because he is the Prince of Wales. Prince William learned the language in preparation to become Prince of Wales some day.

Prince Philip and Prince Charles also speak German because Prince Philip is of German descent.

No one knows for sure why Prince Harry speaks only English. What is known is that his education suffered after his mother's death. Even without speaking other languages, he travels a great deal to countries where he is well respected and loved. His lack of knowledge of a foreign language has not significantly hindered him in any way.

Meghan Markle, the newest member of the royal family, was reportedly heard speaking some Filipino with a member of the public while in Edinburgh.

Prince William's Toddlers Know Words in Spanish

When Princess Charlotte was only two years old, she had learn some words in a second language. Her nanny Maria Turrion Borralo is a native of Spain. The toddler reportedly has picked up some words from Borralo just as her older brother Prince George has also done. Prince George had learned to count to ten in Spanish by the time he was only four years old.

Prince George, 5. Princess Charlotte, 3.
Prince George, 5. Princess Charlotte, 3.

The Duchess of Cambridge once reported that her two older children are very much interested in Spanish. When they are older, they will probably learn French in school.

Many studies have shown that the best time to learn a new language is during childhood.

Greetings in foreign languages
Greetings in foreign languages

Most People Know Some Words in Different Languages

Some people know a few common words and phrases in languages other than their native tongue even though they might not know what the particular language is. They have picked up some words from being around people who languages different from their own.

For instance, some people know how to say "hello" and "goodbye" in a foreign language like those seen in the photo above. It is advisable to study common phrases when visiting other countries. Learning a foreign language is easier than most people think. There are classes online and on YouTube.

Do you know a foreign language?

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    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 

      13 months ago from London England

      With the passing of Arch Duke Jean of Luxemberg, our Queen becomes the most senior Royal of European nobility.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 

      14 months ago from London England

      The most recent addition to the Royal Family namely Her Highness the Duchess of Sussex most probably has introduced an 'American idiom' at least privately of course.

    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      14 months ago from Richmond, VA

      Ian, you are right. Most high school students take at least one foreign language. I took French in high school and Spanish in college. In seminary, I took Greek and Hebrew.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 

      14 months ago from London England

      Many of us with a High School education studied a foreign language for a few years. Diplomacy would dictate some knowledge of other languages would be a plus in the case of our Royal Family.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 

      15 months ago from London England

      Today marks 67 years we have been ruled by the Queen.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 

      16 months ago from London England


    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 

      17 months ago from London England

      There still is surviving Royalty in Greece but they wield no power.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James MizBejabbers 

      17 months ago from Beautiful South

      This article caused me to do some research on Prince Phillip, and I'm surprised. I thought he actually grew up in Greece, so I was wondering why he didn't speak Greek. The way the American articles read when I was a teenager didn't really go into his family's banishment and that he grew up in Northern Europe. Anyway, he has my respect and so does the Queen.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 

      17 months ago from London England

      I'll wager The Queen has a working knowledge of the Gaelic tongues as well.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 

      17 months ago from London England

      I am anticipating the annual Queen's Christmas speech with much joyous glee. Always the highlite of my holiday.

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 

      17 months ago from London England

      Yes. H.R.H. The Prince Charles was required to learn to speak Welsh as a prerequisite for being inducted into the realm as Prince of Wales.

      More to follow.


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