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Definition of regal by Cambridge Dictionary:

very special and suitable for a king or queen

Definition of royal by Cambridge Dictionary:

belonging or connected to a king or queen or a member of their family

"Such propaganda was significant at the time, since papal reform would soon be trying to damage regal imagery."

Essentially, regal is another adjective of royal. What is the difference if I use "royal" instead? And it seems like it is more restricted to use regal compared to royal. So in what circumstance is the word regal appropriate and suitable?

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royal means belonging to or about royalty, not all royalty refers to queens and kings. It refers to all those who have titles making them a member of the royalty such as members of a royal family, dukes, duchesses, earls, etc. Also known as nobles: noblemen and noblewomen [too many to list here].

Whereas regal is relating to the king or queen, from the Latin rex for king. [queen is regina].

regal imagery is that for kings and queens or imagery that appears grandiose like that of a king or queen.

  • He had a regal appearancew. [He looked like a king]

  • He had a royal appearance. [He looked like a nobleman, a member of the royalty]

  • I disagree that all dukes, duchesses, etc. fall under the term royal or that it's a synonym for noble. You are correct to mention the royal family, but the definition of royal is "descended from or related to a king or line of kings." Just being part of the nobility is not sufficient to be called royal. When the British press uses the term "the Royals," that's a catch-all term for everyone related to the queen by blood or marriage. They use the term "the peerage" as a catch-all term for all nobility. – Canadian Yankee Oct 20 '18 at 17:31
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    Royal is an adjective and a noun. I am not confusing them. You are. He has a royal bearing=like royalty. Not:he looks like some Royal or other. I stand by my explanation with the adjectival use of regal and royal. It is correct. – Lambie Oct 20 '18 at 17:35
  • I'm not quibbling about adjective or noun, I'm disagreeing with the statement that royalty is "also known as nobles." That's not true. The wikipedia article about dukes in the UK makes it very clear that there are both "non-royal dukes" (who are not related to the Queen) and "royal dukes" (who are related to the Queen). All dukes are noble. Not all dukes are royal. – Canadian Yankee Oct 20 '18 at 17:38
  • I said such as members of a royal family. I didn't say all dukes are royals. But some are. The main point I covered in my sentences: royal appearance versus regal. royalty and nobility there would be the same thing.Whereas regal means only king-like or queen-like. – Lambie Oct 21 '18 at 13:42
  • I still disagree that "royalty and nobility are the same thing." Just like "regal," the word "royal" also traces its roots to the Latin word for king, specifically by way of the French roial, meaning "of the king (roi)." It's just that in English, "royal" has come to mean "related to the king," while "regal" means "of the king." – Canadian Yankee Oct 21 '18 at 17:06
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Regal is descriptive of something that is like or suitable for royalty. An example from Oxford Dictionary is

He held himself with a regal bearing, and strode forth without hesitation.

Royal describes the identity of a person or thing. An example from Oxford Dictionary is

The Queen is not the only member of the royal family to have personal flags.

Note that being a king does not means he always behaves regally. After a rough night out he might be far from regal, but is still royal.

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    a regal bearing is a king-like or queen-like manner or bearing. Not something "suitable for royalty". A duke is royalty and if he has a regal bearing, he is "competing" with this king... – Lambie Oct 20 '18 at 15:40
  • @Lambie I wrote "like royalty" and also "suitable for royalty". Walking "in a regal manner" would be "suitable for royalty". – Weather Vane Oct 20 '18 at 15:42
  • Oxford Dictionary for royal [adj]: 1.3 Of a quality or size suitable for a king or queen; splendid – XPMai Oct 20 '18 at 17:23
  • @WeatherVane, ohh, it would be great if you could elaborate that in your answer. – XPMai Oct 20 '18 at 17:38
  • @XPMai done that. – Weather Vane Oct 20 '18 at 17:42
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Q: What is the difference if I use "royal" instead?

A: There's no difference.

As wiktionari tells us, the word regal is a doublet of royal. See its etymology:

From Middle English regal, borrowed from Old French regal (“regal, royal”), from Latin rēgālis (“royal, kingly”), from rex (“king”); also regere (“to rule”).

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