Courtesy titles being the very important thing that they are, we couldn’t help but notice how many people are angry with us for not calling the girl who used to be Kate Middleton the right thing. Some have emailed to say she’s supposed to be called a duchess, others have text messaged drunkenly to cast their vote for team princess. Obviously, we needed a solution to this pressing problem, so we asked the person we thought would know best, British handbag designer Lulu Guinness.
Because in addition to being from Great Britain, where people actually know this kind of thing, Guinness is also an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. So while we didn’t have to curtsey when we talked to her at her New York store Tuesday afternoon, she’s about as close to an actual princess as we’ll ever get. And she calls Kate duchess.
“Duchess. Of Cambridge. Yeah, definitely. She’s the Duchess of Cambridge,” she said, before adding, “I could be wrong. I think she will become a princess, but I don’t think she is at the moment. We call her the Duchess of Cambridge, in England, in the press and everything.”
Duchess of Cambridge it is! Guinness was awarded her OBE in 2006 (the same year Hussein Chalayan got his) for her services to British fashion, and since then has observed that while Americans are mystified by the British honors system, sometimes they don’t totally understand what a big deal it is.
“I had an American CEO at the time, in England — a girl. And she didn’t get the enormity of it. She was from California,” she said. “But the main thing is, you think, oh my God I’ve been working away so hard all this time, and actually someone did notice!”
Guinness, who’s famous for her lip-shaped bags and eccentric embroidery (think sparkly skylines and bowls full of ice cream) enjoys a healthy following around the world — she even has the Royal Warrant for the Queen’s umbrellas. And while we haven’t seen the Duchess of Cambridge carrying one of her bags yet, we’d guess it’s only a matter of time before she picks one up, too.