Quentin Bryce agreed to become the first dame nominated by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, but it turns out she has collected another title to take into retirement.
Thanks to a historical anomaly, government ministers and judges automatically receive the title ''the honourable'' for life, but governors-general did not.
The former prime minister Julia Gillard wrote to the Queen about this, and she agreed to correct it, according to informed officials.
The moment the Queen signed the letters patent, the mystical power of the monarch instantaneously made Ms Bryce, who was the governor-general at the time, ''the honourable Quentin Bryce''.
Her title as governor-general became her excellency the honourable Quentin Bryce. But while she lost the excellency on leaving the job, she was to be honourable for life.
The Queen decided to make her decision retrospective so that all former governors-general were honourable, too. But because of the history of holders of that post, it added to the titles of only two of the 24 who went before Ms Bryce.
For the first century of Australia's federation, all the governors-general were already deemed honourable because of birth or former occupation.
They were all British aristocrats, knights of the realm or former Australian judges or ministers, all of whom automatically were allowed to be called ''the honourable.''
But in 2001, the appointment of an archbishop, Peter Hollingworth changed that. He was followed by Michael Jeffrey, an army officer. Neither was allowed to call themselves honourable. But they did not go unadorned in retirement because of their previous lives.
Dr Hollingworth holds a doctorate and his life in the Anglican Church meant he was titled ''Right Reverend''. Mr Jeffery carries the title of Major General (ret.)
So Ms Bryce would have been the first to revert solely to the honorific of the mere mortal, Mr or Ms, but for the decision to endow her with ''the honourable.''