Courtesy Title (United Kingdom)

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A courtesy title (engl. Courtesy Title ) is a title -Ansprache for current or former spouses (widows and divorced), children, daughters, brothers and their wives and sisters of peers in the UK . The term Courtesy (Courtesy) includes doing more, suggests as the German translation. If the peer dies, the titles are retained, but children of the titleholders do not inherit it. These rules also apply to members of the royal family; There are additional rules for the descendants of the respective ruling monarch. This type of address is also used with holders of certain offices, such as some judges and members of the Scottish gentry .

Examples of courtesy titles are Lord , Lady , The Honorable, whereby Lord and Lady are also used for peers, i.e. are not just courtesy titles in the narrower sense. The title The Honorable (or The Right Honorable ) is also used in other cases, for example in Great Britain for high judges and some high officials and members of parliament. The same applies to other countries, especially from the Commonwealth and also in the USA (where the spelling is Honorable ).

Courtesy title for descendants

Courtesy titles arose because a hereditary nobility title of the British peerages ( Peerage of England , Scotland , Ireland , Great Britain and the United Kingdom ) may only be held by one person - namely the current title holder. Only after his death does the title pass to a single title heir, usually the oldest male descendant. If the deceased title holder does not have a male descendant, however, the title goes to the oldest surviving male descendant of the previous title holder. Until then, the descendant basically only uses his real name, which every title holder in the United Kingdom uses as a name in addition to his nobility title (someone who introduces himself by his real name as Mr. Spencer can also be the Duke of Marlborough). This system of nobility means that later-born members of noble families “return” to the bourgeoisie, unless they are entitled to a courtesy title. "Citizen" is to be understood in this context as a person who does not hold a title of nobility.

Courtesy title of the eldest son

If a peer of the rank of Earl , Marquess or Duke has other subordinate titles, his immediate title heir ( Heir Apparent ), usually his eldest son, may use a title lower in the protocol order ( precedence ) as a courtesy title. Often for precisely this purpose, further subordinate titles are awarded together with the higher-ranking title. If this eldest son in turn has an eldest son and there are other subordinate titles, he can also use one of those titles. For example, the Duke of Norfolk is also Earl of Arundel and Baron Maltravers, among others . His eldest son is therefore addressed as the Earl of Arundel and his eldest son as Baron Maltravers . Still, only the grandfather is a peer. The other two remain bourgeois until they acquire a substantial title of nobility themselves. These courtesy titles are only used by the respective Heir Apparent, siblings of Heirs Apparent and Heirs Presumptive do not have a courtesy title.

The bearers of substantial titles of nobility differ from those who only use a title of courtesy by the addition of the article The or an ordinal number. In the above example it is called The Duke of Norfolk or 18th Duke of Norfolk, but only Earl of Arundel .

Which title is used exactly is a question of family tradition. It is chosen in such a way that confusion with other title holders is impossible. For example, the Duke of Wellington is also the Marquess of Wellington and Marquess Douro . The Duke's eldest son does not become Marquess of Wellington, because then both would be Lord Wellington and could be confused, but instead becomes Marquess of Douro . Sons of viscounts and barons lack the privilege to use such courtesy titles.

This regulation also applies to female owners of several substantial titles of nobility (peeress in her own right) for their marriage apparent .

Courtesy title of other descendants

A similar courtesy address, in the form of a name affix, is granted to the younger sons and all daughters of a nobleman. This addition differs depending on the rank of the title holder: the son of a baron has the prefix “Hon.” (= The Honorable ), the daughter of an earl has the prefix Lady etc. This form of address does not start with The Confused Right Honorable .

If a peer's daughter marries a commoner, she retains the courtesy title, with the civil surname replaced by the husband's last name.

Courtesy title with the married couple of a nobleman

The wife of the holder of a substantial nobility title, if she does not hold a higher-ranking title of her own, also has a courtesy title, which is based on the title of her husband. So the wife of a baron is referred to as a baroness , the wife of an earl as a countess and the wife of a duke as a duchess , etc. Although she is traditionally referred to as peeress , it does not make her the holder of a substantial title of nobility. If the woman is of noble descent, she is addressed by her own first name (for example Lady Elizabeth). If she is of civil descent, the man's first name is called (for example Lady Peter).

The bourgeois husband of the owner of a substantial nobility title (peeress in her own right) , however, does not acquire a courtesy title.

Overview of the courtesy titles

peer wife oldest son younger sons unmarried daughters
Duke Duchess subordinate title of the father Lord [first name] [last name] Lady [first name] [last name]
Marquess Marchioness subordinate title of the father Lord [first name] [last name] Lady [first name] [last name]
Earl Countess subordinate title of the father The Honorable [first name] [last name] Lady [first name] [last name]
viscount Viscountess The Honorable [first name] [last name] The Honorable [first name] [last name] The Honorable [first name] [last name]
baron Baroness The Honorable [first name] [last name] The Honorable [first name] [last name] The Honorable [first name] [last name]


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