I've watched the first two seasons of the TV series, and I'm in the middle of the first book. While reading, I noticed that Catelyn is usually referred to by her married name:

Scarlet-tinged spittle flew from the fat innkeep's mouth as she begged of Catelyn Stark, "Don't kill him here!"

Her maiden name is only used in the past tense:

"I was still Catelyn Tully the last time I bedded here," she told the innkeep.

The same seems to be true for Lysa Arryn (can't find an example right now) and other married ladies. Yet, the book calls the queen by her maiden name:

Cersei Lannister entered behind him, a jeweled tiara in her hair.

Is there an in-world explanation for that? Are the "naming rules" different for the royal couple?

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    Not sure if there is an actual rule, but it definitely is in keeping with their personalities. Catelyn is proud to be a Stark, whereas Cersei proud to be a Lannister, but not proud to be a Baratheon.
    – NominSim
    Jul 2, 2012 at 21:07
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    @onewho - While Robert and Lyanna were promised to each other, they were never officially married. So Cersei is definitely the first queen. Jul 2, 2012 at 21:30
  • 3
    Lyanna was also dead before Robert became King (her murder started his Rebellion). Therefore, even if they had been married, Lyanna would not have been the first Queen.
    – user2952
    Jul 5, 2012 at 17:34
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    Not her murder started the rebellion but her abduction. She died in childbed.
    – ImreNagy
    Aug 25, 2015 at 15:12
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    @ImreNagy watch the spoilers, OP said to not reveal stuff after season or book 2.
    – Paul
    Jul 13, 2016 at 10:19

3 Answers 3


I don't know that we've ever had a formal description of the Westeros rules for styling and naming, but it seems to be based heavily on medieval European customs. In that case, it would make sense for Cersei to retain her name, as she married into royalty.

Of course, the real-world naming and marriage customs are complex, vary from culture to culture, and change frequently. Things get even more convoluted when you add in the inheritance of the crown. But in general, most medieval European cultures followed rules that were similar to the following:

When a woman marries into a titled family (the only people that had proper "last names"), she takes on her husbands name. This is because she is leaving her old family (where she was of her father's house) and joining a new one (her husbands house.) Formally, they would be styled "Lady Catelyn, of House Stark", just like Ned is "Lord Eddard of House Stark", but in everyday usage they would be Ned and Catelyn Stark.

(In practice, the rules here vary a lot based on the situation. The Westeros example given in a previous comment had Genna, a Lannister, marrying a Frey. Depending on the current relative social/political standing of those two houses, she may choose to maintain her father's house name in common speech, though she would still be Genna, nee Lannister, of House Frey.)

When the man is royalty, however, the rules are different. A woman cannot become royalty by marrying into it, in the sense that they do not gain all of the privileges that a royal name has. Specifically, a woman who marries a king/prince cannot become Queen in her own right -- her daughters can, but she cannot. As such, while she becomes a member of the royal house, she doesn't "take on" her husbands name.

If you look back through English history, we can see plenty of examples of this convention. In particular, ASoIaF is based roughly on the historical War of the Roses, which saw the Henry Tudor become the first Tudor king. Henry VII's son, the famous Henry VIII, would also have been named Henry Tudor, but his wives are still referred to as Catherine of Aragon, or Anne Boleyn. In modern England, woman who marry into royalty don't actually use a surname; e.g. Catherine Middleton now simply Catherine, nee Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, since her husband is, among other things, the Duke of Cambridge. But, in informal conversation, and even in some media outlets, she is still often (incorrectly - see below) called "Kate Middleton", likely as a throwback to the historical naming convention.

In this sense, we can imagine that Cersei's full legal name while Robert was alive might be something like Her Majesty, Cersei nee Lannister, of House Baratheon, Queen of the Seven Kingdoms -- shortened to Queen Cersei Lannister.

I don't remember much about the other queens we've seen, or heard about, on-screen thus far but I think they fit this pattern. Stannis' wife, by this custom, would not take the Baratheon name as it was the current royal family when she married, and I only remember ever hearing her named as "Lady Selyse" or "Selyse Florent". Robb's wife is mostly just called "Jeyne" by Robb and Cat, but I don't remember anyone ever referring to her as Jeyne Stark. Margaery married two Baratheon kings and was still "Margaery Tyrell", and I don't know of any case where Rhaegar's wife was named as "Elia Targaryan".


Unrelated side note, just to show how complex this stuff gets:

Referring to the Duchess of Cambridge as "Catherine Middleton" is not just impolite, it's flat out wrong. She should be addressed as "Princess Catherine" in all cases, but her "legal" surname is a matter of some confusion. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles would give their surname as Windsor, if required. Queen Elizabeth has specified that her non-royal descendants will take the surname Mountbatten-Windsor, which shouldn't apply to Princess Catherine. However, when she needed to file suit in a foreign court, she gave her name as Mountbatten-Windsor, as did her husband. So, clearly, what to call the wife of a royal family member is absolutely not a straightforward question.

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    Hmmm. Interesting answer! IIRC there were no mentions of "Selyse Baratheon", "Jeyne Stark", "Margery Baratheon" or "Elia Targaryen". All those royals by marriage were always named after their original houses. Jul 3, 2012 at 16:22
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    It's worth noting that the Russian monarchy was an exception to the rule that the monarch's wife could not inherit his authority. More than one Tsar's wife ruled Russia after her husband died; the most famous one was Catherine the Great. Feb 12, 2014 at 21:37
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    Why does Catherine I not count? She was a commoner who married Peter the Great, was named as co-ruler during his lifetime, and succeeded him after his death. She established a precedent which was followed by Catherine II (admittedly with some messy conflict along the way, but that's the way transfers of power tend to work in an absolute monarchy). All this is totally different from the modern British example you gave; George VI's widow did not become monarch herself, the present Queen did instead. Feb 13, 2014 at 8:28
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    To add further to the confusion Prince Harry and Prince William both adopted "Wales" as their surnames whilst serving in the armed forces.
    – Dan Kelly
    Jun 1, 2016 at 9:34
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    I usually just refer to Catherine Middleton as “second from the right against the wall when the revolution comes”. Jul 13, 2016 at 9:37

The Lannisters are shown many times to be a very prideful lot. Everything from their demeanor, to coat of arms, to house words (Hear me roar!) is indicative of this. They place themselves higher than other houses, so they almost always refer to their Lannister blood.

Another indication of this from the books is King Joffrey's coat of arms. Although a Baratheon, his coat of arms contains both the crowned stag (Baratheon) and the golden lion (Lannister). He is also titled "King Joffery of the Houses Baratheon and Lannister".

Yet another instance of this; Genna Lannister, Cersei's aunt. She is a Frey by marriage, but she is always referred to as Genna Lannister, not Genna Frey.

  • I like this answer, except that King Joffrey is both Baratheon and Lannister, so it makes sense for his coat of arms to contain both the stag and the golden lion. If it were an indication that Lannister placed themselves higher then it wouldn't be both.
    – NominSim
    Jul 2, 2012 at 21:55
  • @NominSim - If I remember correctly it wasn't his personal coat of arms (which would make sense) that had both sigils, but the coat of arms for his kingdom. Jul 2, 2012 at 22:02
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    @NominSim - Something tells me it's from somewhere in the Blackwater battle. It's time for my annual reread of these damned books again anyway :) Jul 2, 2012 at 22:16
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    As a king, Joffrey is always referenced as "Joffrey of the houses Lannister and Baratheon".
    – Wilerson
    Jul 2, 2012 at 22:27
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    @ladylad As far as the world of Westeros is concerned he is, which is what I think SystemDown is saying. His answer reflects Joffrey's coat of arms, which is of house Baratheon and Lannister.
    – NominSim
    Aug 15, 2012 at 20:03

First of all I'd suggest that it is really a matter of choice I suppose.

As already mentioned, Genna Lannister was never called Genna Frey despite marrying Emmon Frey. Their children however all carried the Frey name.

Another example which has not been mentioned yet is Lelia Lannister who became Queen Consort of Iron Islands by marrying Harmund II Hoare, is always referred to as Lelia Lannister, not Lelia Hoare.

Yet another example is that Rhaenyra Targaryen, Princess of Dragonstone married Ser Laenor Velaryon, heir to Driftmark and great-grandson of King Jaehaerys I Targaryen. She kept her name Targaryen even though her alleged children with Ser Laenor had surname "Velaryon". But then again, we can say she needed Targaryen name to appear as legal claimant to throne of Aegon the conqueror. Still, it appears to be her choice.

Catelyn Stark had a loving relationship with Eddard Stark so it makes sense that she chose to be called Catelyn Stark, not Tully. Cersei and Robert's relation was never good so it makes sense that Cersei refused to take her Lord Husband's name. But there is no canon source for this and this is just speculation.

That being said, never in the history of Westeros has a Queen changed her name to adopt her Husband's family name.

Queens don't change names

I have never seen any Westerosi Queen taking her Lord Husband's name if she comes from another house. Let's see list of all previous kings and their queens who were not of same dynasty:

King Aenys Targaryen and Queen Alyssa Velaryon

King Aenys married Alyssa Velaryon and took her to his Queen. She is never referred to as Alyssa Targaryen after her marriage.

King Maegor the Cruel & his Consorts

King Maegor the Cruel married multiple times both within and without his dynasty. The brides he took from outside House Targaryen were Ceryse Hightower, Alys Harroway, Tyanna of Pentos, Elinor Costayne and Jeyne Westerling. Notice how none of the five Queens took the Targaryen name.

King Viserys I Targaryen and his consorts

King Viserys I married twice. First he married his cousin Queen Aemma Arryn. After her death he married Alicent Hightower. Both Queens kept their own names even though Aemma Arryn was half Targaryen on her mother's side.

King Aegon III Targaryen and Queen Daenaera Velaryon

King Aegon the Dragonbane married twice. His second marriage was outside House Targaryen with Daenaera Velaryon. The Queen kept her name instead of becoming Daenaera Targaryen.

King Viserys II Targaryen and Queen mother Larra Rogare

Viserys II married a Lysene noblewoman from old blood of Valyria, Larra Rogare. The couple had a troublesome relation. While Rogare family helped Targaryens to stabilize rule of Viserys's brother, Aegon III, Larra never felt happy in Westeros. Eventually, the marriage collapsed and Larra went back to Lys leaving her children, Aegon, Aemon and Naerys behind. Viserys never took another wife even after becoming the King. So even though Larra never became the Queen, she remained Rogare, not a Targaryen.

She died during reign of Viserys II and never saw her son Aegon IV become King but I suppose we can consider her Posthumous Queen Mother on this account.

King Daeron II Targaryen and Queen Mariah Martell

King Daeron the Good married a Dornish Princess Mariah Martell. Queen Mariah kept her family name.

King Aerys I Targaryen and Queen Aelinor Penrose

King Aerys made his cousin Aelinor Penrose his Queen. She remained a Penrose.

King Maekar Targaryen and Lady Dyanna Dayne

King Maekar the Anvil's wife Dyanna Dayne died before his ascension to Iron throne thus never became a Queen. Maekar never took another wife or had any affair afterwards that we know of which hints at a successful marriage full of love (And six princelings). But anyhow, notice how despite never being a Queen, Dyanna is still a Dayne, not Targaryen.

King Aegon V Targaryen and Queen Betha Blackwood

King Aegon the Unlikely married with a woman of comparatively low birth, Betha Blackwood. At time of marriage, Aegon was so below in line of succession (fourth son of a fourth son) that no one objected. But eventually Black Betha became a Queen and her husband one of the greatest Targaryen Kings ever. Betha however remained Blackwood, not Targaryen even though Betha and Aegon married for love and remained in love through out their marriage.

This concludes the list of Monarchs other than Robert I Baratheon who married women of other dynasties. As you can see, there is not a single case in which the Queen consort took her Husband's name or is referred to by her Husband's house. So why should Queen Cersei Lannister take her Royal Husband's name?

The precedent continues. As pointed out earlier, Margaery Tyrell is still a Tyrell despite marrying Joffrey I Baratheon and Tommen I Baratheon. Not to mention she had also married Renly Baratheon in the past. She did not become a Baratheon either. Simple as that, it is evident that Queens don't change their names.

If we move past Royal marriages and discuss general nobility, there are conflicting accounts about it, unlike Royal marriages. Olenna Tyrell was called a Tyrell but she was infact born a Redwyne. Similarly Donella Hornwood was called Hornwood despite being born a Manderly. On the opposite we have many and more examples as cited above where ladies retained their birth names after marriage. So all we can say is that it depends on choice of the lady and her circumstances.

Also another aspect to consider is, the POV. When Masha heddle begs Catelyn Stark, that's Tyrion's POV. When Catelyn calls herself a Tully, that's her POV. When Cersei is called a Lannister, that's Eddard's POV who had previously called the Queen "The Lannister Woman".

  • Her enemies know her as Cersei Lannister Dec 27, 2017 at 22:39

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