Titles and Styles of Knights and Dames
1. Postnominal Letters
Postnominals (abbreviations after a name) may be shown with or without points (full stops); e.g. K.N.Z.M. or KNZM.
A knight of an Order of Chivalry may use the appropriate postnominal letters after his name; e.g.
Knights Bachelor do not use any postnominal letters to denote their honour. The appellation "Sir" before their name is considered sufficient. In biographical works of reference the abbreviation "Kt." or "Kt. Bach.", followed by the date of knighthood, may be used to clearly identify the type of knighthood and date of the honour.
The letters "K.B." should not be used. These letters refer to a Knight of the Order of the Bath prior to 1815.
Damehoods are confined to the Orders of Chivalry and a dame may use the appropriate postnominal letters after her name; e.g.
2. Wife of a Knight (Courtesy titles)
The wife of a knight may use the courtesy title of “Lady” before her surname, provided she uses her husband’s surname. For example, the wife of Sir John Smith is:
To distinguish between other women with the same name and title, it may be necessary to use a forename; e.g.
In the United Kingdom, the style "Lady Mary Smith" indicates that a woman is a holder of a peerage courtesy title in her own right, and is considered incorrect usage by the wife of a knight. In New Zealand’s more relaxed society, however, as there is no system of hereditary peerages, this convention is not always observed and the following styles may be used on occasions where the holder of the courtesy title considers it to be appropriate:
The wife of a knight who, for professional or other purposes uses her maiden name, may use the courtesy title in association with her other names. For example:
The wife of a knight may choose not to use the courtesy title of "Lady" and may simply be known and addressed by her forenames and surname; e.g.
or when associated with her husband:
In these situations it would be unusual for the style "Mrs" to be used.
In those situations where the wife uses neither the courtesy title nor her husband’s surname, the following styles may be used:
3. Husband of a Dame
The husband of a dame is not accorded a courtesy title. A dame and her husband would jointly be addressed as:
In the case of a dame who does not use her husband’s surname, the joint form of address would be:
[The use of a courtesy title by the spouse of a dame has been the subject of lengthy debate and study in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. No satisfactory solution to this anomaly has been found.]
4. Letterheads and Correspondence
The name of a knight or dame may be printed or typed on letterheads, usually from the top left-hand corner. For example:
If other honours and distinctions are held, these may also be included; e.g.
Alternatively, the correct name and style may be typed below the signature; e.g.
Sir John Smith, KNZM, QSO
Dame Joan Grant, DNZM
The prefix "Sir" or "Dame" and postnominals should not be included as part of the signature.
The wife of a knight may show her name and courtesy title in the letterhead; e.g.
or under the signature:
Lady Smith, or
Mary, Lady Smith
If other honours and distinctions are held, these may be included; e.g.
The prefix "Lady" and any postnominals should not be included as part of the signature.
5. Legal Documents
Knights and dames in legal documents, share certificates and the like may be described as:
If other honours or distinctions are held, these may be spelt out in full or shown by the appropriate postnominals.
The wife of a knight, who uses the courtesy title "Lady", should be described as:
6. Business and Professional Cards
A knight or dame of an Order of Chivalry should include the appropriate postnominal letter after their name on business or professional cards; e.g:
Knights Bachelor should show their name as:
The wife of a knight should show her name and title on a card as:
Other postnominal letters may be included at the personal discretion of the knight, dame or lady.
If a person asks for your name, it is not improper to give your name and title, e.g. "Sir John Smith", "Dame Joan Grant", or "Lady Smith". The person will then know to address you by the title and not as "Mr" or "Mrs", thereby avoiding embarrassment.
In the event that a knight and his wife separate, the wife may continue to use the courtesy title of "Lady" so long as she uses her former husband's surname. However, she may choose not to use the courtesy title. In the event that the wife reverts to her maiden name or another surname, it would be incorrect to use the courtesy title.
9. Divorce and Remarriage
If a knight divorces and remarries, the current and former wife (or wives) who retain their current and former husband’s surname are entitled to use the courtesy title of "Lady". There may be, therefore, several "Lady Smiths".
In those situations where there is more than one former wife living and entitled to use the courtesy title, a forename may be used; e.g.
When a man is made a knight a former wife, who has retained his surname, may not adopt the courtesy title of "Lady". She continues to be styled as she was at the time of her divorce and before her husband was knighted; e.g. "Mrs".
10. Knight's Widow
On the death of a knight his widow may continue to use the courtesy title of "Lady" until such time as she remarries and assumes another name. If the widow remarries but retains her late husband's surname, she may continue to use the courtesy title. However, the widow of a knight may at any time choose not to use the courtesy title even though she may have retained her late husband's surname.
11. The Use of Other Titles and Styles
On being made a knight or dame the use of the style “Doctor” is discontinued. The use of the postnominals denoting the Doctorate may, however, be shown after the name. For example:
Those knights and dames entitled to certain other titles, styles or ranks may continue to use them; e.g:
A Judge of the Supreme, Appeal and High Courts who is a knight or dame may be addressed as:
12. Clerical Knights
In New Zealand all clergymen and clergywomen may accept and use titles denoting a knighthood or damehood. Clergymen may also accept the accolade of knighthood.
[In the United Kingdom, clergymen of the established churches in England and Scotland, while eligible to receive knighthoods, do not receive the accolade, may not use the title of "Sir" and their wife may not use the courtesy title of "Lady" as the wife of a knight.]
13. Honorary Knights and Dames
Honorary knights and dames are not entitled to use the titles of "Sir" or "Dame". The wife of an honorary knight may not use the courtesy title of "Lady". Honorary knights and dames may use the appropriate postnominal letters; e.g.