Navigating Royal and Noble Titles, an American, Almost Royal, Perspective

I get many questions from my readers on the topic of royal and noble titles—it’s very confusing to an American since we don’t use them here formally. Thanks to Disney, most of us do know the term princess and prince, thanks to the likes of Cinderella, Arielle, Tiana, Jasmine, Mulan—to name a few. I get educated frequently by nieces, granniekids and neighborhood children on the latest happenings in princess-lands—National Enquirer has no chance scooping against these kids…

I researched the topic of titles when I was writing The Crown for Castlewood Manor. For the character of Evan Lancaster, I knew that I wanted him to have a noble title to go along with the family history of the Lancasters. I was intrigued to find out the historical implications of having a title (there are rules), how titles and peerages vary from country to country (for my series, I focused on the UK rules), and finally, who outranks whom (and who has to bow to whom and when)…whew!

I decided to have Evan’s peerage and title be a Marquess (pronounced mar-qwes; peerage: privileged noble class and legal system comprising both hereditary and lifetime titles in the UK). I decided not to go with the title of Duke, there are only 30 in England and Ireland—I didn’t think it would be prudent to do a fictional add since the real royals are getting these titles these days πŸ˜‰ I liked the Marquess title (currently 34, and the real royals are staying away from this title for some undisclosed reason according to Wikipedia). It carries a bit more ranking weight than counts, earls, and viscounts–and frankly sounds a bit more almost royal to my untrained American ears. I have to admit the final deciding factor was in homage to the Downton Abbey finale, when Lady Edith becomes a marchioness after marriage, outranking her sister Mary (payback bigtime Edith) πŸ™‚

So without further adieu, here is the almost royal ranking list, with a few tidbits of interest thrown in:

  1. Emperor/Empress: Only 1 today, Emperor of Japan. King George VI dropped the Emperor of India title in 1948 for future British monarchs.
  2. King and Queen Consort or Princess Consort/Queen and King Consort or Prince Consort: Queen Elizabeth’s husband is Prince Philip (he was a prince by his own right). Last Prince Consort was Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband. Discussion today is whether Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, will become Queen Consort or Princess Consort when Charles becomes King. It is expected that Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, will become Queen Consort when William becomes King. Wowza, more royal drama to come I’m sure…
  3. Queen Dowager or Queen Mother: Queen Mother Elizabeth (died 2002 at age 101) was Queen Elizabeth’s Mummy πŸ™‚
  4. Archduke and Archduchess: Ceased in 1918
  5. Duke and Duchess: Currently 30 Dukes in England and Ireland. This should increase to 31 when Prince Harry marries Meghan Markle on May 19th. Queen Elizabeth is expected to honor him with Duke of Sussex or Duke of Buckingham titles. Meghan will become Duchess of Sussex or Duchess of Buckingham. 2nd son of the King or Queen becomes the Duke of York (although with 2011 royal succession change act, will Princess Charlotte assume the Duchess of York title as 2nd born to William when he is king?)
  6. Prince and Princess: This ranking surprised me the most as an American—I had always assumed a prince or princess was just below a King or Queen (their children do receive those titles at birth). Almost royal confusion on this one…
  7. Marquess and Marchioness: French translation is Marquis. Character Evan Lancaster is 8th Marquess of Kentshire.
  8. Count/Earl and Countess: Downtown Abbey favorites Lord and Lady Crawley, Earl and Countess of Grantham. And how can we ever forget our favorite dowager countess played by the wonderful actress, Dame Maggie Smith. “What is a weekend?” Genius line, will go down in history πŸ™‚
  9. Viscount and Viscountess: Ladies of London cast member (and former American) Julie Montagu is the only viscountess example I can almost royally come up with (she is Viscountess Hinchingbrooke)…she lives in the Earl of Sandwich’s estate, Mapperton, with her husband, Luke.
  10. Baron and Baroness: Again, I revert to my only known example, Caroline Fleming, member of the cast for Ladies of London. She was born a baroness but holds the title no more. She wrote a wonderful cookbook that I love though, Cook Yourself Happy, the Danish Way
  11. Knight or Dame: We have 2 Beatles now as knights, Sir Paul and Sir Ringo. (and will character Kyle receive his knighthood?)
  12. Lord or Lady: Lots of royal and noble protΓ©gΓ© with these honorary titles. You can even buy this title…if the price is right of course.

So as of this writing, Princess Charlotte has broken the almost royal glass ceiling of royal succession–she retains her line to throne ranking (currently 4th) after the birth of her newly named younger brother (Prince Louis Arthur Charles), who does not get to leap frog over her since the 2011 royal succession act. This young princess rules—and at 2 just going on 3, has that royal wave down!

Crowns and Kisses,


P.S. I love my solar waving queen in the featured picture today, she makes me happy πŸ˜‰ Gemma would approve.

Author: My American Almost Royal Cousin Series by Veronica Cline Barton

Hi, I'm Veronica, writer of books in the My American Almost Royal Cousin Series now on Amazon! I'm a lover of all things royal, in castles, wearing marvelous boots! My series gives readers of cozy British mysteries an American twist! Explore the world of a period drama TV series being made on a glamorous British estate. My heroine Gemma has her work cut out for her, dealing with mysteries, murder, intrigue and a little romance. Enjoy!

4 thoughts on “Navigating Royal and Noble Titles, an American, Almost Royal, Perspective”

  1. I’m like you, I’m very curious about the line of succession. Since I know so much, I’ve become everybody’s go-to for royal information!

    Now about your theory about Princess Charlotte possibly becoming “The Duchess of York” in her own right. It’s strange because for one, it’s never been done before, because for the descendants of noble families, who have only daughters, instead of them inheriting the title for themselves, it becomes to their husband and will continue down the male line… I don’t necessarily see her gaining that title, but I think after the death of Princess Anne, Charlotte will become The Princess Royal.

    And about Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, honestly, knowing about all she’s done after she married Prince Charles, I think she should be called Queen Consort. However, there are a LOT of people who would rather just skip Charles altogether and move on to William, for two reasons, 1) he’s younger with a growing family and 2) Catherine has a better reputation. There’s no argument about the Duchess of Cambridge becoming Queen Consort, it’ll happen because the public absolutely love her to pieces!

    I hope you don’t mind the large comment. You asked questions and I replied. Sorry! Lol


    1. Thank you so much for your reply and expertise! I lay no claim on ‘expert’ knowledge (just almost royal, and American at that πŸ™‚ ) I do think it will be interesting on the topic of Princess Charlotte assuming the Duchess of York title as 2nd born—they changed the rules of succession, so it may be time for rules of who gets what title as 2nd born to change as well….I guess it’s something to track and see what happens. If that young lady gets her voice, and way, I think we may see a Duchess of York. As to Camilla and Charles, another royal wait and see I think…

      Thank you so much for your reply! I have some upcoming surprises in my series that may break some ‘almost royal’ (I do know I should be referring to noble titles, but for my series, I’ve taken the ‘almost royal’ liberty) title rules—would love to get your opinion and expertise. Thank you again, Veronica

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome! I think it would be awesome, if Princess Charlotte has children, they’ll be allowed to keep her titles. Like since she is “of Cambridge” right now, will her children have “of York” at the end. Will she lose that title if she gains it before she is married? Do you get what I’m saying? I don’t want to confuse you! πŸ™‚

        I also saw someone say that when Prince Harry marries Meghan Markle, that their children will NOT be considered a prince/princess, even if they get a title themselves. I know The Prince & Princess of Kent are like that, they’re children have the titles of Lord/Ladies, but I don’t know if they were given that because they are Catholic or not. I still think Prince Harry’s children should have the higher titles.


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