BELFAST (Northern Ireland). Call her Kate, at least for now. It may be years before Kate Middleton becomes queen, but questions are already being raised about the princess-to-be's preferred moniker: queen Kate or queen Catherine?
Ever since her engagement became official in November, palace officials - and her fiance, prince William - have taken to calling her Catherine, which is the name used on the official, gold-embossed invitations to their nuptials at Westminster Abbey on April 29.
"Catherine'' sounds more formal, regal and fitting for a future queen, experts say. But Middleton herself may not embrace the change just yet. During a joint visit on Tuesday with William to Northern Ireland, Middleton mentioned casually that she thinks of herself primarily as Kate.
"I'm still very much Kate,'' said Middleton, when a woman outside Belfast City Hall asked her what name she preferred.
The "Kate'' versus "Catherine'' debate has emerged in recent weeks because of William's switch in using it and because "Catherine'' or the initial "C'' is being imprinted on officially sanctioned wedding memorabilia and commemorative china.
"I think that Catherine does have a more historic feel to it; there have been several queen consorts called Catherine in British history,'' said Charles Kidd, editor of the blue-blood bible Debrett's Peerage. "So queen Catherine does sound quite familiar. It has a historic ring to it.''
He said Kate also sounds pleasant but reminds him of the feisty character in 'Kiss Me Kate,' a Cole Porter musical that features Shakespeare's play 'The Taming of the Shrew.'
The late Princess Diana, William's mother, also had an informal nickname - "Lady Di'' - that was too casual for formal court affairs, where she was called Her Royal Highness, The Princess of Wales.