Some commoners (Bürgerliche) are more equal than others. This particularly applies to Britain where ordinary people can be awarded titles like The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by the Queen. Titles of peerage (Adelstand)can only be granted to royalty and nobility. Charles eg. is not simply Prince Charles, but His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester, Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick and Baron Renfrew, Lord of the Isles and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland (I wonder if he himself can remember all this...). There are in fact five different ranks of peers:

  • dukes (Herzog),
    female form: duchess
  • marquesses (Marquis),
    female form: marchioness
  • earls (Graf),
    wife of an earl: countess
  • viscounts (Viscount),
    French origin, are deputy or assistant counts, female form: viscountess
  • barons (Baron),

    the lowest and most common rank of peerage, dating from the medieval parliament. They were originally landowners who were summoned to parliament in its early stages by the king. The title can be passed to eldest sons (=hereditary peerage / right of primogeniture=Erstgeburtsrecht).

    Twice a year (on New Year's Eve and on the Queen's birthday in June) the Queens awards titles and honours to commoners (Honours' List). Suggestions as to who is awarded atitle is, however, made by the Prime Minister. The most important titles are the Orders of Chivalry (Rittertum) like:

  • The Most Noble Order of the Garter (Hosenbandorden)

    This order was created by King Edward III and bears the famous motto Honi soit qui mal y pense (Shame on him who thinks evil of it). There is a legend that Edward III picked up the garter of a lady of his court and said these words to those who enjoyed her embarrassment.

  • The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle
    (dates back to James II) includes Knights and Dame Brethren (Ordensbrüder).
  • The Most Honourable Order of the Bath
    - the name comes from the ceremonial bathing that knights underwent on initiation (Aufnahme).
  • The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire
    is conferred on civilians and military for service to their country.
  • The Order of Merit,

    a modern order given for merit in the armed forces, arts, literature or science.
    By giving away some hundred titles and honours twice every year the number of people supporting the monarchy is definitely also growing.

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