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Wednesday, December 12, 2007



In a nation ruled by a monarch, this term refers to a person without any official royal or noble title, in a formal term neither a sovereign nor a peer. In British class system, this term refers even to the members of the aristocracy and royalty. Technically, Princess Anne (the only daughter of the Queen) is a commoner. Though, she is a princess of the blood royal and has Princess Royal courtesy title, she is not a member of the British peerage.

Even the future king, Prince William is technically a commoner also, as Prince-of-Wales in waiting, he has no title to his own other than that of his father. Someday, the enchanting prince would yield great powers but while he awaits his destiny, he remains to be untitled but Buckingham Palace is preparing him to take royal engagements, making goodwill tours, visiting hospitals and organizing charities in preparation for his future role.

According to Hello!magazine, Prince William might take a civil job in the Foreign ministry office after his stint in the army, unlike his brother Prince Harry, William won't make military a lifetime career because of his future kingship. His mother and paternal great-grandmother were both commoners, as daughters of a titled Earl, they were only"LADIES" in the British nobility, it is a courtesy title but not an official one.


The highest hereditary rank in Britain ranking just below a prince. A British Duke not born of a royal blood has a courtesy title of HIS GRACE. Traditionally, a son of the reigning sovereign who is not heir apparent would have a Duke title with HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS status.

However, sons of the monarch can only pass the Duke title only once, the first born son of their heir must bear their second title which is Earl. Example: Prince Henry, the Duke of Gloucester and 3rd son of George V passed his title to his only son Prince Richard, but his eldest son Alexander will no longer be Duke upon his father’s death, but instead will take the Duke’s secondary title which is the Earl of Ulster.

This title can only be inherited by a male child, Prince Andrew the Duke of York has no sons, when he died this title will become dormant. But there was an exemption to this case, when Alexander Duff, the Duke of Fife and husband of Princess Louise, the eldest daughter of Edward VII, died without a male issue.

His wife’s grandmother Queen Victoria issued a letter patent passing his title to his first born daughter Lady Alexandra Duff who married her second cousin Prince Arthur of Connaught (first cousin of Princess Louise's brother Prince Arthur, the Duke of Connaught-3rd son of Queen Victoria), but Alexandra's only son, Alastair predeceased her so the Dukedom of Fife was inherited by her nephew James George Carnegie, son of Alexandra's younger sister, Lady Maud. The Duke is currently listed as the 54th in line of succession to the British throne.


Ranking below a Duke and above an Earl. Normally the secondary title of a British Duke not born of a royal blood. Gerald Grosvenor, the 6th Duke of Westminster is also the Marquess of Westminster.

By tradition, the heir of a nobleman would take their secondary title, but in the case of Dukes their heirs would carry their 3rd title which is Earl and not Marquess, hence the heir and only son of Lord Grosvenor, Hugh Richard Louis is known today as Earl Grosvenor and not Marquess of Westminster.

Even this title would not automatically make them a peer, therefore they would remain a commoner until such time they could inherit the full title of the father.


A British nobleman ranking below a marquess and above a Viscount. Both Diana and the late Queen mother were children of an Earl but remained commoners however since they had no independent noble titles. This noble title is the usual peerage granted by the sovereign in creating a new nobleman in honor of his outstanding performance in “Her majesty’s government”.

This would also the usual title offered by the sovereign to commoners who married into the royal family’s direct members. When The Honorable Angus Ogilvy married Princess Alexandra of Kent, the Queen’s cousin, in 1935, Her Majesty offered him an Earldom but he declined preferring to remain a commoner, Captain Mark Phillips declined the Queen’s offer in 1973 when he married Princess Anne. Tony Armstrong-Jones accepted the Earl of Snowdon’s title in 1960 after his marriage to Princess Margaret, the Queen’s only sister, because he wanted his children to be noblemen. His only son, David carries his secondary title Viscount Linley while he is still alive.

This could only be inherited by male descendants, but in 1979 when the Earl of Burma and Baron Romsey, Lord Louis Mountbatten assassinated by Irish Republican Armies, his title passed to his eldest and favorite daughter Patricia Knatchbull.

Lord Mountbatten, the uncle of the Queen’s husband known to the royal family as uncle dickie has no sons and made an arrangement with the Queen to pass his noble title and inheritance to his daughter who by then married to the fourth Baron Brabourne, John Knatchbull. This concession of the monarch is limited only to a nobleman who rendered exceptional service to the crown, Lord Mountbatten was a decorated war hero, having been the Supreme Commander of the Allied forces during world war II and an Admiral of the fleet of the British Royal Navy.

Lady Patricia became Countess of Burma and his son and successor Norton Knatchbull will have the courtesy title of Lord Romsey. Earl's daughters will have the courtesy title of a 'LADY' while his eldest son and successor will be known as 'LORD', younger sons will be known only as "The Honorable". Princess Alexandra's husband, the late Angus Ogilvy was an Earl's younger son.


Ranking below an Earl and above a Baron and usually the secondary title of an English Earl. When Diana’s father, John Spencer became the 8th Earl of Althorp in 1975 his only son and Diana’s younger brother Charles became Viscount Althorp. children of the Viscounts would have the "The Honorable" courtesy title. When Diana was born in 1961, her correct style was "The Honorable Diana Frances Spencer", it was in 1975 when she formally become Lady Diana Frances Spencer.


The lowest hereditary rank in Britain. Diana’s maternal grandfather, Maurice Burke Roche was the fourth Baron Fermoy. Children of Barons are known as "The Honorables".

COURTIERS-also called equerries. One of the most important branch of royal service in the Kingdom. They are choosen for their significant ties to the monarch mostly of noble birth, Diana's father, her great-grandfathers and grandfathers to both side served as equerries to many monarchs.

Courtiers are protectors of the crown and made sure the Kingdom looks regal with high respect from the outsiders. They determined what the monarch should do or say in public or whom the sovereign would see or meet. They did this by controlling the flow of information to the public.


is an annual listing of honors given by the British sovereign to individuals with excellent achievement in their respective field. This can also be given to the citizens outside the British commonwealth of nations. The recipient of this award automatically become an aristocrat but this title is not hereditary.

The male recipient would have the courtesy title of SIR while for females DAME. Sir Isaac Newton was knighted by Queen Anne in 1705 for his unprecedented contribution in the field of science, Sir William Herschel, the discoverer of the planet Uranus was knighted by King George III.

Sir Paul McCartney of the Beatles was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1992 for his great service in the music industry. Barbara Cartland, the romance novelist stepgrandmother of Diana become a DAME in 1980 for her achievement in the field of writing. Hollywood film director Steven Spielberg received this prestigious award in 2005 but could not used the title SIR because he is not a commonwealth citizen.


It is the highest honor in Britain. This is usually given to a person with distinctive service to the crown. British Prime minister who does not defeated in a general election have this honor. This Chivalric order was established in 1340 by King Edward III(initially to revive King Arthur's Knight of the round table). The Plantagenet King selected 24 distinguished men to complete the order.


In British class sytem, the titles can be tricky compared to other European royalty. Marriage does not automatically made one a Princess. After the marriage of Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 to Prince Charles, Buckingham Palace published a correct style for the newly created Princess of Wales.

She was not Princess Diana because she was not born a princess or The Princess Diana because only children of the sovereign would have the “The” before their names. Normally the wife takes the title and status of her husband. Diana became Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales which means she ranked third (after the Queen and the Queen mother) in the order of precedence among other titled female individuals in the realm. Commoners are expected to curtsy and bow in her presence.

This title is arrived in marriage and departed through divorce, hence following her divorce from the Prince of Wales in 1996, she was known only as Diana, Princess of Wales stripping the HRH style. But historian's argued that Diana should retained the HRH style because she is the mother of the future king. Nevetherless the style had been stripped along with her regimentals in the military, her son, William told People magazine in his 2000 interview that he would reinstate his mother's HRH style when he assumed the throne.

Usually, ex-wives of the British peers retained their titles they enjoyed in marriage but with the condition that they will not remarry. In 1969 Diana’s parents divorce became final, at that time her father was still the Viscount Althorp, her mother Frances Burke Roche retained her style as Viscountess Althorp but when she decided to get married again to a wealthy commoner Peter Shand-Kydd, she ceases to be Viscountess and was known only as Mrs. Shand-Kydd.

Prince Charles’ younger brother Prince Andrew the Duke of York divorces his wife Sarah Ferguson known simply as Fergie, but continues to be known as the Duchess of York because she remains single up to these days. However the complication occurs when the peer decided to remarry as the title would be used by his second wife subsequently

Camilla Parker Bowles avoided the Princess of Wales title because this is much associated with Diana, instead she choose to be called the Duchess of Cornwall taken from Charles secondary title, Duke of Cornwall. Camilla, according to the order of precedence of women in Britain ranked fourth below HRH Princess Alexandra of Kent. Although she is the wife of the future king, she did not carry the Princess status and would not be crowned as Queen when Charles ascended the throne, she is divorce and the Church of England prohibited it.

In other European countries, a wife of a Prince automatically become a princess through a referendum issued by the monarch, even if the couple will end up in divorce the princess style is a lifetime title of the ex-wife unless she choose to remarry.

When Prince Joachim, the second son of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark divorces his wife Princess Alexandra in 2005, she remains a Princess of Denmark but when she decided to marry her long time beau, her former mother-in-law created her Countess of Frederiksborg, but this is only a personal title and cannot be passed to her descendants.

Prior to the 21st century royal houses of Denmark and Sweden maintained a strict rules for members of the royal family who might succeed to the throne to marry a fellow royal from the existing reigning houses in Europe, disobedience meaning stripping of their royal titles and inheritance. Two sons of Prince Knaud of Denmark (uncle of Queen Margrethe II) were excluded in the line of succession to the Danish throne when they choose to marry a commoner and the title Prince of Denmark was stripped from them, they were created Count of Rosenborg.

In Britain, a female royal is not created a noblewoman in her own right even if she is the next sovereign and has no official title compared to her male counterparts. The then Princess Elizabeth was not invested as Princess of Wales as suggested by some royalists, because that title is reserved for the wife of the Prince of Wales only.

The heir apparent's title is always be "The Prince of Wales" but this is not automatically acquired by the first born son of the ruling sovereign, it is conferred through an investiture by a monarch. King Edward VII's son and heir apparent Prince Albert Victor was not invested as Prince of Wales, he was known as the Duke of Clarence until his death at the age of 28. His younger brother, Prince George was to become the Prince of Wales and reigned for 30 years as George V.

Grand Duke/Grand Duchess-the title of the rulers of Luxembourg. These are also the titles used in some states in Germany before World War II. In the former Imperial Russia these are the titles of the sons/daughters of the Emperor. They are superiors than Princes and Princesses.

Tsarevitch-heir to the throne of the Russian Empire.
Infante/Infanta-titles of the children of a Spanish King, except for the heir to the Spanish throne who takes the title of a Prince.
Archduchess/Archduke- titles of the children of the Emperor/Empress of the former Imperial Austria.
Dauphin-title of the heir to the French throne( when France was still a kingdom).

United Kingdom- Prince of Wales
The Netherlands - Prince of Orange
Belgium - Duke of Brabant
Spain - Prince of Asturias

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