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In English, why do we say Mr. President/Mrs. President but not Mr. King/Mrs. Queen?

My first language is French, and the same principle applies. What I mean is in French, we say Monsieur le Président/Madame la Présidente, but not Monsieur le Roi/Madame la Reine.

Also, why do we say Your Majesty/Your Highness for a monarch (king/queen/prince/princess/emperor/empress/sultan), but Your Excellency for a president/prime minister?

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  • There is a difference between politicians, especially elected ones, and nobility like kings and princes, who are officially high in status, and need to be flattered with polite speech, like plural 2nd persons and third persons -- not *Mr. Majesty but Your Majesty, vouvoyer, Siezen, etc.
    – jlawler
    Feb 5, 2022 at 23:52
  • I think terms of office carry no inherent politeness, so you need to add Mr./Madame/etc. to show courtesy. Terms of nobility are inherently polite; however, to show extra courtesy you address one of their attributes, rather than the person, like "majesty," "eminence," etc. Protocol/étiquette eventually dictated which terms were appropriate for which title in each language and country. For example, in English, I think ambassadors are addressed with "your excellence," kings and queens with "your majesty," and princes and princesses with "your (royal) highness." Feb 6, 2022 at 0:11
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    In Spanish, Portuguese, and Japanese, the tendency to address the status of the person, rather than the person directly, became so pervasive that some of the terms are now used as regular pronouns with third-person verbs, sometimes in reduced form. For example, "usted" in Spanish comes from "vuestra merced" ("your (pl) mercy"). O Senhor/A Senhora ("the lord/lady") is a formal form of "you" in Portuguese. In Japanese 貴様 (kisama) ("honored status/appearance/situation") started off a few hundred years ago as a form of honorable address, but has deteriorated into a pejorative form of address." Feb 6, 2022 at 0:26
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    I recall that there was some debate in the US early on as to how to speak about the president. I believe Mr. was chosen as it would not create the sense of nobility or title. The Federalist party may have at times tried to use something fancier since they liked some of the trappings of monarchy but surely once the Republicans took over, that would have been gone.
    – siride
    Feb 6, 2022 at 3:04
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    Like when they changed to title of Yes, Minister to Yes, Prime Minister. The whole TV world got a lesson on RP vocatives.
    – jlawler
    Feb 6, 2022 at 16:48

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