Princess Charlotte will follow in big brother Prince George's footsteps on Thursday, joining him at the $23,000-a-year Thomas's Battersea

By Stephanie Petit
September 03, 2019 12:50 PM

There will be no “Your Royal Highness” in the classroom for Princess Charlotte!

The 4-year-old royal will follow in big brother Prince George‘s footsteps on Thursday, joining him at the $23,000-a-year Thomas’s Battersea — and just like the future king, she won’t be getting the royal treatment during the school day.

To her classmates, Princess Charlotte will be just another kid. Instead of addressing Kate Middleton and Prince William‘s daughter by her royal title, she’ll simply be known as Charlotte. (Perhaps close friends will call her Lottie, the adorable nickname previously revealed by Kate!)

When it comes to the matter of her last name, things are a little trickier. But if she follows her brother George’s lead, she’ll be known as Charlotte Cambridge.

Prince William and Prince Harry went by William Wales and Harry Wales during their own school days, as well as their years in the armed forces. Why? Because their father, Prince Charles, is the Prince of Wales. It’s an homage to their father’s title, for occasions when “Prince” just feels a bit too formal.

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William now has a title of his own: Duke of Cambridge. So just as William took his own last name from his father’s title, so will Charlotte — and she’ll be Charlotte Cambridge in school records and to her peers and teachers.

Even though George is third in line to the British throne, he also follows the tradition and is known as George Cambridge in school.

Princess Charlotte
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Technically, the royal family’s last name is Mountbatten-Windsor. (Charlotte’s little cousin, Archie Harrison, will likely use that as his surname given that he has no royal titles yet.) They became the House of Windsor in 1917 — previously the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. The switch was prompted by anti-German feelings in the United Kingdom following World War I, so they changed the name to the more-English Windsor. The family became the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha after Queen Victoria married Prince Albert, who was German, so the name did have German roots.

The addition of Prince Philip to the family brought about another name change, this one, the addition of Mountbatten, the last name he adopted after giving up his title of Prince of Greece and Denmark. The name belongs to his maternal grandparents — it’s the English translation of their German name, Battenberg. The change took time to make its way into the royal family — 1960, to be exact, 13 years after Philip married the then-Princess Elizabeth, and eight years after she became Queen. However, this didn’t change the name of the House of Windsor, but rather just the surnames that those in said house would use when they weren’t using the style of His or Her Royal Highness (or if they’re members of the family but don’t get said said style.)

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip on their wedding day
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The family actually explains the issue in full on their website:

“A proclamation on the Royal Family name by the reigning monarch is not statutory; unlike an Act of Parliament, it does not pass into the law of the land. Such a proclamation is not binding on succeeding reigning sovereigns, nor does it set a precedent which must be followed by reigning sovereigns who come after. Unless The Prince of Wales chooses to alter the present decisions when he becomes king, he will continue to be of the House of Windsor and his grandchildren will use the surname Mountbatten-Windsor.”

However, though that is technically the royal family’s last name, it’s rarely the one members of the family use in day-to-day life.

Prince William and Prince George on his first day of school in Sept. 2017
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Not only will Charlotte have her big brother, 6, to show her the ropes, but Kensington Palace announced that parents Kate and William will accompany Charlotte on her first day of school.

When Prince George started at the private school some three miles from the family’s Kensington Palace Home in Sept. 2017, only Prince William was there to drop him off. Although Kate was expected to join her son for the important milestone, she was forced to cancel her plans due to acute morning sickness she was suffering during her pregnancy with Prince LouisHyperemesis Gravidarum also afflicted Kate during her previous two pregnancies.

Prince George and Princess Charlotte
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And with a big support system in tow, Princess Charlotte (who previously attended Willcocks Nursery School) is thrilled for the big day.

She can’t wait to be with George at big school,” an insider previously told PEOPLE. “She is so excited about it all.”

“They are close in age, and they spend so much time together,” adds the insider. “Playdates [with outsiders] can be tricky, so they learn to lean on each other.”

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