The Prince of Wales has come under fire for using ‘American’ spellings in a heartfelt letter, written to the French president following the Notre Dame fire.
On Tuesday, a letter of sympathy written by Prince Charles, 70, to Emmanuel Macron, 41, in the wake of the cathedral inferno, was shared to the Clarence House Instagram account.
Despite the touching message, many of the royal’s 714,000 followers were distracted by the ‘Americanised’ spellings – a day after fans claimed Meghan is running the SussexRoyal Instagram account, due to US words and phrases in the captions.
Arguing that the future King should stick to British English, fans pointed out that ‘agonizing, realize and civilizaton’ were used in the letter, as opposed to ‘agonising, realise and civilisaton’.
Others suggested that his spellings could have been autocorrected, with most word processing programmes using American English as their default setting for spellchecking.
Clarence House declined to comment, but it’s believed that Charles prefers to use the ‘correct’ 15th century versions of English, when words were spelled with an ‘ize’ instead of ‘ise’.
Examples of previous letters written by the royal, show that he has always used spellings such as ‘recognize’ and ‘realize’.
The Prince of Wales, seen with Camilla, has come under fire online over his ‘American’ spelling in a heartfelt letter written to the French president following the Notre Dame fire – with many fans not realising the use of ‘ize’ dates back to traditional British English spelling
David Adger, Professor of Linguistics at Queen Mary University of London, confirmed to Femail that Prince Charles’ spelling is techincally correct, if unusual in 2019.
He said: ‘The -ize spelling is a pretty accurate representation of the Ancient Greek suffix from which it derives, which was roughly pronounced -idzo.
‘It’s still used by, for example, Oxford University Press, instead of the more standard -ise.
‘However, for words that don’t come from that Ancient Greek affix, like analyse, for example, Oxford University Press sticks with the -se spelling, while American English has generalised even those words.’
The full letter reads: ‘My wife and I were utterly heartbroken to learn of the terrible fire at Notre-Dame cathedral this evening and wanted to let you know immediately how much we were thinking of yourself and the French people at this most agonizing of times, and of the emergency services who are so bravely tackling the blaze.
‘I realize only too well what a truly special significance the Cathedral holds at the heart of your nation; but also for us all outside France it represents one of the greatest architectural achievements of Western Civilization.
Where does the use of ‘ize’ in words such as realize originate from?
Despite the common belief that the use of ‘ize’ instead of ‘ise’ derives from American spelling, it actually originated in England where it was used in the 15th century.
The first example for the verb ‘organize’ in the Oxford English Dictionary is from around 1425, from an English translation of a treatise on surgery written by the French physician Guy de Chauliac:
The brayne after þe lengþ haþ 3 ventriclez, And euery uentricle haþ 3 parties & in euery partie is organized [L. organizatur] one vertue.
The use of ‘-ize’ spellings is part of the house style at Oxford University Press, and reflects the style adopted in their first edition published in 1884.
The OED’s earliest example for realize dates from 1611, taken from a definition in A Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues, a bilingual dictionary written by Randle Cotgrave:
Realiser, to realize, to make of a reall condition, estate, or propertie; to make reall.
The first recorded use of the verb with an ‘-ise’ spelling in the OED is not until 1755 – over a century later.
In the Oxford English Dictionary (published in parts from 1884 to 1928), the first editions of Hart’s Rules (1904) and the Authors’ and Printers’ Dictionary (1905), ‘-ize’ spellings were used, because they correspond to the Greek verb endings ‘izo’ and ‘izein’.
However, in both American and British English, certain verbs must always be spelled with an -ise at the end, because this is an intrinsic part of the word, rather than being a separate ending.
For instance, the -ise in the word surprise prise, means taking.
Other words that must end in an -ise include, advertise compromise exercise revise.
It’s believed that confusion over which words should be spelled with an -ise led to it being commonly adopted in British English, overtaking the -ize.
However, Prince Charles does make a blunder in one of his letters where he spells the word ‘advertize’, which is not in face correct, and is commonly ‘advertise’ in both British and American English.
‘It is a treasure for all mankind, as such, to witness its destruction in its most dreadful conflagration is a terrible tragedy, the unbearable pain of which we all share.
‘Cher Monsieur le President, our hearts go out to you and the people of France more than you will ever know, especially in view of our experience with the devastating fire at Windsor Castle twenty-seven years ago.
‘We send you our most profound sympathy, however inadequate that may be.’
Previous letters written by Prince Charles show he has always used the traditional ‘ize’ spelling.
However, one commenter who was unhappy with the spelling in the letter, said: ‘Wait what? A British uses ‘realize’ not realise? Are you an American or the future King?’.
On Tuesday a letter of sympathy written by Prince Charles, 70, to Emmanuel Macron, 41, in the wake of the cathedral’s fire on Monday, was shared to the Clarence House Instagram account
However, despite the touching message, many of the royal’s 714,000 followers took to the post to slam the ‘Americanised’ spellings
Users quickly slammed the post, with one follower writing: ‘Wait what? A British uses ‘realize’ not realise? Are you an American or the future King?’
Another added: ‘Agonising with a z – that will not do’, while one wrote: ‘Please ask your secretary not to write Americanised English!’.
Elsewhere one follower argued: ‘What hope is there for our schoolchildren, when even HRH starts spelling ‘realise’ with a ‘z’?’.
‘Realise! Not realize. Not criticising the sentiment of the letter though, just to be clear,’ another wrote.
Why are we eschewing the Queen’s English for Americanisms?’ another questioned.
How Charles uses and antiquated form of English dating back to the 15th century
A look at past letters written by the Prince Of Wales shows how he’s always made use of ‘ize’, at the end of words that many people would spell with an ‘ise’.
Last year Charles wrote a letter to Sarah Rose Troughton, the Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire, in which he praised the resilience of the people of Salisbury following the Novichok poisonings, and used the American spelling of ‘organization’.
And a letter to loved ones of MH17 crash victim Liam Sweeney in 2014 spells both ‘realize’ and ‘agonizing’ in American spelling.
Similarly, letters that surfaced in 2015, in which Prince Charles wrote to Tony Blair warning Armed Forces in Iraq did not have enough resources, show the use of the word ‘advertized’.
Another one shows Charles writing the words ‘practices’ and ‘overemphasize’.
A letter to loved ones of MH17 crash victim Liam Sweeney in 2014 spells both ‘realize’ and ‘agonizing’ in American spelling
Last year Charles wrote a letter to Sarah Rose Troughton, the Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire, in which he praised the resilience of the people of Salisbury following the Novichok poisonings, and used the American spelling of ‘organization’
Similarly, letters that surfaced in 2015, in which Prince Charles wrote to Tony Blair warning Armed Forces in Iraq did not have enough resources, show the use of the word ‘advertized’
Another one shows Charles writing the words ‘practices’ and ‘overemphazize’
Arguing the royal family should set an example, another said: ‘*Realise* not realise (we are not American) … HRH is supposed to be a stickler for grammar and accurate spelling!’.
One fan even joked that Charles was dictating the letter, and his American daughter-in-law Meghan had typed it up.
However many others defended the letter, arguing that the spelling was irrelevant in light of the tragedy.
‘Beautifully stated but I am so sorry to see the amount of criticism here. Have a heart, people!’ one said.
Another argued the post was aimed at an international audience, adding: ‘Let’s not be petty and argue about regional differences. We all speak English.’
Meanwhile one said: ‘The world has just lost an iconic historic building in tragic circumstances which was originally erected in 1161 and took centuries to complete. It had over a million visitors annually, it housed priceless treasures and all you can complain about is a spell checker’s spelling?’.
Language expert reveals the English origins of the use of ‘ize’ and which words they apply to
Professor of Linguistics at Queen Mary University and President of The Linguistics Association of Great Britain David Adger told FEMAIL: ‘The ‘ize’ spelling is an accurate representation of the Ancient Greek suffix from which it derives, which was roughly pronounced ‘idzo’.
‘It’s still used by, for example, Oxford University Press instead of the more standard ‘ise’.
‘However, for words that don’t come from that Ancient Greek affix, like analyse, for example, OUP sticks with the ‘ise’ spelling, while American English has generalized even to those words.
However many others defended the letter, arguing that the spelling was irrelevant in light of the tragedy
Speaking to FEMAIL, royal etiquette expert William Hanson said: ‘It is a shame that Clarence House inadvertently used the American English version of ‘realise’.
‘All communication aimed at the British public should be in British English. One of the softer roles the monarchy has to play is maintaining traditional standards.
‘The British monarchy should uphold correct British English – or, as it used to just be called, English. But I do wonder whether Clarence House chose to use the more internationally recognised spelling on purpose as the message was meant for a global audience? Perhaps we should give them the benefit of the doubt.’
This comes after fans took to the SussexRoyal Instagram account on Tuesday, claiming the Americanised spelling on its most recent post meant that California-born Meghan was writing the captions herself.
Meghan, 37, and Harry, 34, recently thanked fans for donating to their chosen charities in honour of Baby Sussex, and one post about Baby2Baby contains references to ‘cribs’ and ‘diapers’.
Several posts use the US spelling ‘organization’, rather than ‘organisation’ and ‘programs’ rather than ‘programmes’.
And fans were also quick to spot ‘Americanised’ spellings, as well as dollar signs and American English in the captions, and claimed this pointed to a US native writing them.
Eagle-eyed fans took to the SussexRoyal Instagram account on Tuesday, claiming the Americanised spelling on its most recent post meant that California-born Meghan was writing the captions herself