Sunday, 4 November 2012


The British peerage system is divided into five main ranks:  

Marquess (sometimes spelled “Marquis”)

Above dukes are the members of the royal family, with the sovereign at the top.  
Below barons are two ranks of non-peers:  Baronets and Knights.  Not being peers,  they do not hold a seat in the House of Lords (a privilege which ended with the twentieth century).  These two ranks both use the title “Sir” with the given name (never with only the surname), and a baronetcy is passed down through the family like a hereditary peerage.  A knighthood, on the other hand, is for life only.

The order of precedence in England and Wales is as follows:

The Sovereign; The Duke of Edinburgh; The Prince of Wales; The Sovereign’s younger sons; The Sovereign’s grandsons; The Sovereign’s cousins; The Archbishop of Canterbury; Lord High Chancellor; Archbishop of York; The Prime Minister; Lord High Treasurer; Lord President of the Council; Speaker of the House of Commons; Lord Privy Seal; Ambassadors and High Commissioners.

Peers rank among themselves as follows:

1. of England, 2. of Scotland, 3. of Great Britain, 4. of Ireland, 5. of UK and Ireland.

Precedence among those with honours and titles:

Dukes; Marquesses; Earls; Viscounts; Barons; Knights of the Garter; Baronets;
Knights of the Thistle and other orders; Knights Bachelor; Companions.
The Archbishop of Canterbury takes precedence in England and Wales after Royal Princes, while Bishops rank above barons but below viscounts.

In Scotland precedence alters as follows: The Sovereign; The Duke of Edinburgh; The Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly (while that Assembly is sitting); The Duke of Rothesay (eldest son of the Sovereign); The Sovereign’s younger sons;  The Sovereign’s cousins; Lord Lieutenant of Counties; Lords Provost of Counties of Cities; Sheriffs Principal; Lord Chancellor of Great Britain; Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland; The Prime Minister.

Full details can be found in ‘Whitaker’s Almanac’ or ‘Debrett’s Peerage
and Baronetage’.

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