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The Queen and Other Royal Titles

In light of the recent death of Elizabeth II, Queen of England, we'll take a look today at the German words for royal titles. Just two days before her death, the Queen was still fulfilling her royal duties, meeting with former Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his successor Liz Truss at Balmoral Castle.


Aber die Königin starb bald darauf.

But the Queen died soon afterwards.

Caption 11, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Schneewittchen

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Some languages, like English, have completely different names for male and female monarchs. In German, however, most noble titles take the masculine nouns and make their feminine equivalents by giving them an -in  feminine ending.


Bis 1806 trafen sich hier die Kurfürsten, um den deutschen König und Kaiser zu wählen.

Exactly. Until 1806, the electors met here to choose the German king and emperor.

Captions 68-69, Bundesländer und ihre Rezepte: Hessen

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Der König is easy enough, but what is the difference between der König and der Kaiser? The notorious Kaiser Wilhelm II, who was forced to abdicate after the surrender of Germany in the First World War, was both the King of Prussia and the Emperor of the German Empire. Prior to the end of the monarchy in Germany, which was a result of losing the First World War, the country was comprised of many kingdoms. Each of these kingdoms was ruled by a king or a queen, but the highest ruler of the land was der Kaiser, the Emperor. The title Kaiser derives from the Latin name Caesar.


Until the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, emperors were chosen by a council of nobles called die Kurfürsten. You can still see traces of this antiquated term in street names, such as the famous shopping street in western Berlin called Kurfürstendamm.


Der Prinz und die Prinzessin waren überglücklich und schnell war allen klar, dass sie sich ineinander verliebt hatten.

The Prince and the Princess were overjoyed and soon it was clear to everyone that they had fallen in love with one another.

Captions 85-86, Märchen - Sagenhaft: Dornröschen

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Der Prinz and die Prinzessin are quite easy for English speakers as the words are very close to their English equivalents.


Der bayerische Herzog Wilhelm IV war ein großer Freund des reinen Bieres.

The Bavarian Duke Wilhelm IV was a good friend of pure beer.

Caption 21, Deutsches Bier: 500 Jahre Reinheitsgebot

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The royal title ranking beneath der Prinz is der Herzog, or "duke." The feminine for "duchess" is die Herzogin.


Es gibt Schilderungen, da hatte eine Gräfin von Thun ihn angefleht, auf den Knien, dass er spielt.

There are descriptions where a Countess of Thun had begged him on her knees to play.

Captions 14-16, Ludwig van Beethoven: 250. Geburtstag

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Apparently Beethoven wasn't particularly fond of the aristocracy, since according to this anecdote, he refused to play for her based solely on her rank. The masculine equivalent of die Gräfin is der Graf: "the count."


Eine Lösung für dieses Mobilitätsproblem hatte Karl Freiherr von Drais.

A solution for this mobility problem was found by Baron Karl von Drais.

Caption 7, 200. Geburtstag: Die Geschichte des Fahrrads in 2 Minuten

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Der Freiherr is "baron" in English and feminine equivalent of "baroness" is die Freifrau. German also occasionally uses der Baron and die Baronin as well!


Further Learning
Extend your knowledge of German noble titles by reading the Wikipedia Adelstitel ("noble titles") page. Then you can go to Yabla German and search for some other videos using the words you learned for German titles of nobility.

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