Monday, September 22, 2008

Buy Your Own Royal Title???

A question that may interest perhaps only a few, but while researching the modern day acquisition of noble titles, I was surprised to uncover the following.

Noble titles are indeed purchasable especially in the US (of all places), England (where else?) and even Spain (I'm sure there are other countries out there selling peerage titles, but due to the obvious language barrier, I haven't discovered them, yet ...). The prices range from about $ 49,00 all the way up to about $ 160,000.00 and perhaps more. It depends of course on the type of the title or even in which country it is available. Typically, the royal titles on the market begin with Sir/Knight (oops, this is not really a royal title, but more a title of feudalistic dignity. It's often confused with the former ...), Lord / Lady, Baron / Baroness, Viscount / Viscountess, Earl / Count / Countess, Marquis / Marchioness, Duke / Duchess and ends with Prince / Princess. Whew!! That's a long list to choose from! It's of course important to realize the value of such a title and where they are to be used, and, of course which titles are even purchasable, but I want to get into that in a later post ...

The question that remains in this post is, how valid are such “purchased” noble titles? This market has gained a lot of attention, especially in Great Britain, among various families of nobility. Their claims accuse “modern day pirates” of impersonating and slandering those who possess authentic titles.

One could discuss long and extensively on the topic, but in my research so far, I have yet to discover the illegality of these purchases in any way. However, I do understand the frustration of those who bear genuine titles. Imagine if you were the Duke of York (who is incidentally Prince Andrew, second son of Queen Elizabeth II) and someone else, a wealthy businessman for example, buying the Duke of “whatever” title. Prince Andrew received his title by birth and is a member of a long lineage of royalty. Being that he is the second son of the present British monarch, he received his title by right and heritage. As a side note, since the creation of this title in 1474, none of the Dukes or Duchesses has ever transmitted it directly through marriage or birth. To date, they either had no male heirs, or became Kings themselves. In the case of becoming King, they could pass on the “Duke” title to their second son. So, you being the Duke of York, would of course be very upset at some rich businessman going out to the proverbial supermarket of royal titles and simply buying his Duke title, right? Of course you would. But to my knowledge, that title is not really up for sale anyway ...

But let's look at it from a different angle before I get way off the topic here. I do want to stress the importance of differentiating between the title itself and its authenticity. First of all, it is absolutely legal to change your name through a registry office (usually for a very low fee), but it remains just a name or name extension and does not change the bearer's status. I can call myself Count Pherrel, but that does not give me the official status of Count. If however, I were to marry a genuine Count or Countess, I could take on that title if I so choose (it's not automatically transferable).

The legal status of nobility has been abolished in nearly all countries where it was once the ruling power. Of course, the descendants of these families do exist, but for the most part, they have no influence whatsoever in the governments and very often only hold important positions on the boards of charities, affluent businesses or otherwise. On rare occasions they are politicians themselves, but not because of their title. Great Britain is obviously a completely different matter, but I will get into that in yet another post.

But let's get to the point at hand. Buying genuine noble titles is just not possible, no matter in which country. The only way to acquire genuine titles is through marriage or adoption. There is a small exception however, and that is the Scottish baronial title. This title is made available to very few per year and is just not that easy to receive anyway. The acquirement of this title is exclusively reserved to those who purchase the matching piece of land, but, I will get into that in a later post ...

What I did discover though, is that in Germany it is in fact possible to acquire a genuine nobility title through marriage or adoption. The individual that I found out about is looking for wealthier persons who are interested in securing a noble title for business or personal reasons. At first, I was very doubtful about the validity of this offer, but in my research have discovered that it is quite legitimate and legal. What is hoped for, is an individual who is willing to pay a certain amount of money to marry this person, who will from then on bear the title to be used quite officially in social, business or personal circles.

I intend wholly to find out more about this topic and will of course keep you readers informed about my findings. In the meantime, I really would appreciate your comments and help in my continued efforts to unravel the mystery (at least for those countries void of royalty) of royal families and their histories. Join me in this very interesting journey of discovery!

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