Hacker: What has Sir Arnold to fear, anyway? He's got all the honours he could want, surely.
—Yes Minister, "Doing The Honours"
Britain, being a monarchy, has a title system to go with it.
Hereditary Peerages (all titles have female equivalents):
- Duke (Duchess): The highest title of the lot. Address as "Your Grace" when you are talking to him. Prince Philip was the Duke of Edinburgh. Of course Prince Philip was a Royal Duke, which is to say a prince of the Royal family who holds a ducal title. There are non-Royal dukes also, who feature lower in the pecking order. The overwhelming majority of Dukes (23 of 30, as of October 2021) are non-royal.
- Parodied by Mark Twain in the story of The Million Pound Banknote where the owner of the note becomes so famous that the Times reports his doings above those of "Any duke not royal".
- The Grace bit is mentioned in Blackadder the Third. Prince George in disguise calls the Duke of Wellington 'My Lord', who then proceeds to correct him with a blow to the head.
- Marquess (Marchioness)
- Earl (Countess)
- Viscount (Viscountess)
- Baron. A female baron is a Baroness, but not The Baroness. Usually. Thankfully.
- Lord of Parliament (Scotland only)
- Scotland, having retained a mixture of the old Celtic tribal federation to go with the Norman-influenced feudalistic system has some degree of complication. It still maintains clan chiefs parallel to the nobility though of course any given chief is likely to also be a noble, and if he distinguished himself somehow, to be a knight. If you will the Queen is both nominal liege and nominal paramount chief in Scotland and just nominal liege in England. For information on this see Bonnie Scotland.
- Honorable mention among titles goes to "squire". Originally meaning an apprentice knight (sort of like a Padawan), it became a colloquial term for minor nobility -- specifically those with a respectable but not gigantic landholding and a few renters. As a rule of thumb there would have been one squire to a village in the heyday of squirearchy. In some ways this was one of the more democratic positions of the aristocracy. A highly talented person could gather enough money, or influence, or whatever in the course of successful career to retire and found a landholding dynasty. In a way, though, the position of squires was ambiguous. While certainly part of the nobility in a sense, they did not get a seat in the House of Lords. They could run in the House of Commons, though, and over time the Commons began to wield more power than the Lords. Squires also played some of the biggest roles in providing officers for the armed services, and taking part in the judiciary, legislature and (Anglican) clergy. Perhaps the most important part for the squires provided some of the chief fuel for Britain's politics as well as much of social life. Many famous British literary characters are from the families of squires.
Peers are referred to and usually addressed as "Lord [title]" unless they're dukes, in which case they're addressed as "Your Grace" and referred to as "The Duke of [title]". Wives of male peers and women who are peers in their own right get "Lady" and "Duchess" instead of "Lord" and "Duke". Husbands of peeresses don't get anything, as traditionally the man was the head of the household and was expected to see such a possibility as disgusting and emasculating.
A peer's eldest son uses his father's second title (if any) during the father's lifetime. An old rule, the writ of acceleration, allowed them to sit in the House of Lords under that title, as well, if they had made a distinguished career for themselves in the Commons. However, the last time this was used—to bring distinguished Tory MP Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, Viscount Cranborne, to the Lords—was in 1992, and it will no longer be used, as hereditary peers are no longer entitled to sit in the Lords (presumably, any future heirs to hereditary peerages who wish to sit in the Upper House will have to seek appointment as Life Peers by the government—or election, should Lords Reform ever happen in earnest). Younger sons/daughters of dukes, marquesses, and earls use "Lord/Lady [firstname] [lastname]". Any other children of peers can use "The Honourable first name] [last name]
Informally, all peers except dukes can be referred to as "Lord Title-name", as mentioned above. Formally, however, dukes, marquesses, and almost all earls are addressed as "the Title of Title-Name". Examples include the Duke of Wellington, the Marquess of Queensberry, and the Earl of Clarendon. It's done this way because the title-names in these cases aren't surnames: they're place names. Viscounts and a few earls, on the other hand, are formally known as "Title Title-name" - for example, Earl Spencer and Viscount Bennett - because their title names usually derive from surnames. Barons are usually known as "Lord/Lady Title-Name" whether the title name derives from a surname (Lord Thomson) or otherwise (Lord Beaverbrook), but a few holders of baronies prefer "Baron" to "Lord" or "Lady". Margaret Thatcher, for instance, prefers to be called Baroness Thatcher, possibly to emphasize that she's using the title she was awarded on her own merits and not merely riding on the coat-tails of her late husband, who was a baronet.
- Baron (Baroness): All life peerages are baronies. Due to the possibility of surname duplication, life peerages usually formally include a title, usually the person's surname, and a location - e.g. Lord Black of Crossharbour - but the last part is usually left off unless there happen to be two or more peers with the same title, such as Lord Browne of Belmont, Lord Browne of Ladyton, Lord Browne of Madingley and Lord Browne-Wilkinson.
- A title specifically created just to look posh; the king used to sell them to get extra cash. None created since 1964 (except for Denis Thatcher), but there are still some out there. Like a knight, a baronet starts his name with "Sir" but puts "Bart." at the end instead of the initials of his order and degree of knighthood (see below). Also hereditary.
- Motion is hereby put that the cartoon character Bartholomew J Simpson be created baronet just so that he gets to sign his name "Sir Bart Bart."
- In Gilbert and Sullivan's Ruddigore, the main character, "The Bad Baronet of Ruddigore," is called a "Bad Bart" by himself and others quite often.
- This is referenced in one episode in The Simpsons' fifth season, when the self-help guru ask Bart what his name is, the response is "Ruddigore, sir!"
Knights for Life (in most cases - it is possible to get stripped of a knighthood, like Anthony Blunt was when it became known he was one of the Cambridge Five group of Soviet moles or more recently Robert Mugabe for general oppressiveness) There are various knightly orders that one can be appointed to. The brackets indicate their post-nominal letters. These are the best known:
- Order of the Garter (KG or LG). Oldest of the batch, usually dated to 1348. Has the motto "Honi soit qui mal y pense" ("shame upon him who thinks evil of it" in Old French). Apparently came about after some woman's garter fell down at a party, and everybody thought it happened because Edward III had his hand up her skirt. The Queen is a member and the motto appears on the Royal Coat of Arms in England.
- Order of the Thistle (KT or LT). A Scottish one. Motto: Nemo me impune lacessit, or "No one provokes me with impunity" in Latin (also the motto of the Black Watch, a famed Scottish regiment)
- Order of the Bath (GCB for Grand Cross members; KCB or DCB for Knight Commanders; CB for Companions, who are not knights). This is for Army, Navy, and Air Force types. There is no longer a requirement to have a bath before being admitted. Though in this day of showers, maybe there should be.
- Order of St. Michael and St. George (GCMG for knights or dames Grand Cross; KCMG/DCMG for knights or dames commanders). This is for diplomats and civil servant in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. See the page quote. ("CMG" in the quote is for "Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George", which is not a knighthood.)
- Royal Victorian Order (GCVO, Knight Grand Cross; KCVO/DCVO, Knight Commander. Not knights: see below). For personal services to the Royal Family.
- Order of the British Empire. Two knight ranks (Knight/Dame Grand Cross and Knight/Dame Commander, abbreviated as GBE and KBE/DBE). See below for the others.
- Knight Bachelor is for people who deserve to be knighted, but don't fit in the categories of who belongs in the orders. You can get a lesser Order of the British Empire honour, but still not qualify for a KBE, in which case you keep the lesser honour as well as your knighthood, as in Sir Alex Ferguson CBE, or Sir Terry Pratchett OBE. If you don't have a *BE, you can follow your name with Kt. High Court Judges are always made a KBE; because there is no such thing as a "Dame Bachelor" (Dame Spinster?), women appointed to the High Court Bench are made Dames of the British Empire.
- CB- Companion of the Order of the Bath
- CMG- Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George
- CVO- Commander of the Royal Victorian Order
- LVO- Lieutenant of the RVO
- MVO- Member of the RVO
- CBE- Commander of the Order of the British Empire
- OBE- Officer of the Order of the British Empire
- MBE- Member... You get the idea.
- OM- Order of Merit: For outstanding lifetime achievement. Only 24 are allowed in at any time, and the Sovereign gets to choose who gets in. Florence Nightingale was made a member at the age of 87.
- CH- Companion of Honour. For outstanding achievements in certain things. Maximum membership of the Order of the Companions of Honour is 65 at any one time, including the monarch. Sir Ian McKellen (Gandalf) is one.
- DSO- Distinguished Service Order. For exceptionally good commanders of the armed forces. Name a famous British general from WWII, and he was a member.
- ADC- Aide-de-Camp, a personal helper to a senior military officer. Certain members of the Royal Family with military commissions, including the Prince of Wales, hold the title of Personal Aide-de-Camp to The Queen.
- The Order of St. John- formally, The Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem. A royally-chartered charitable order best known for its ambulance service (the logo of which is currently on the TARDIS). Members are selected from the Commonwealth, the US, Hong Kong, and Ireland, by invitation only. Only Christians may become knights, but other religions can become honorary members. Its Grand Prior is HRH the Duke of Gloucester. Its knights are not allowed to use the titles "Sir" or "Dame", and the post-nominal letters are for internal use only; but its symbols may be used in a knight's coat of arms. The order has 6 grades: Bailiff/Dame Grand Cross (GStJ), Knight/Dame (KStJ/DStJ), Commander (CStJ), Officer (OStJ), Member (MStJ), and Esquire (EsqStJ).
- Royal Guelphic Order (GCH, KCH, KH)- Created by George IV when Hanover became a kingdom in 1815, the order had separate civil and military Divisions. It ceased being awarded in Britain on the death of William IV in 1837, when Queen Victoria`s uncle became King Ernest I of Hanover. It was the national order of merit in the Kingdom of Hanover until it was annexed by Prussia in 1866, and still exists today as an award for personal services to the Royal Family of Hanover. The Duke of Wellington was a recipient.
- Order of St. Patrick (KP)- Was to Ireland what the KG is to England and the KT to Scotland. The monarch's jewelled badge and star of the order, which were known as the Crown Jewels of Ireland, were famously stolen in 1907 and never recovered. Stopped being awarded in 1919; the last living member, George VI's brother Henry, died in 1974.
- Order of the Star of India (GCSI, KCSI, CSI)- Created in 1861 and awarded to important Indian princes, viceroys, and colonial officials. Went dormant in 1947. Last living member was an Indian prince who died in 2009.
- Order of the Indian Empire (GCIE, KCIE, CIE)- a more inclusive order for lesser Indian nobles, accomplished soldiers and colonial administrators in the Indian Empire. Created in 1878, shortly after Queen Victoria was proclaimed the Empress of India. Went dormant in 1947; the last living member was a maharaja who died in 2010.
- Order of the Crown of India (CI)- for wives of important Indian princes, viceroys, and colonial officials. Elizabeth II was made a CI in 1947, the year it went dormant; she is the last living member.
- Indian Order of Merit (IOM)- a non-knighthood award to Indian soldiers for gallantry. Originally 3 classes, the 1st class was abolished in 1911 when Indian soldiers became eligible for the Victoria Cross. A civilian division was created (two classes, reduced to one in 1939) but rarely awarded. Retired in 1947.
- Order of British India (OBI)- For "long, faithful and honourable service", originally to the British East India Company, then to the Indian Army. Awarded in two classes; recipients of the first class were also given the honorific Sarhar Bahadur (Hindi for "heroic leader") while 2nd class were titled Bahadur ("hero"). Retired 1947.
- Order of Burma (OB)- Instituted in 1940 for long or distinguished service or acts of heroism in the Burmese armed forces, a local equalivent to the IOM. Only awarded to 33 people before being discontinued in 1948.
- Imperial Service Order (ISO)- a non-knighthood award for long service and good conduct in the civil service throughout the British Empire. It also had an accompanying Imperial Service Medal (ISM) for 25 years good service in non-management civil service, 16 years for jobs in unpleasant conditions. After WWII it was given mostly to British workers until honours reform in 1993 retired the awarding of the ISO, while keeping the ISM. Peculiarly, the government of the Australasian Commonwealth nation of Papua New Guinea continues to send ISO and ISM recommendations from its civil sevice to London to this day.
Royal Family Orders:
- These are orders created by certain monarchs to reward female members of the Royal Family for personal service, mostly as a token of esteem. The orders (which are uniformly named "The Royal Family Order of (monarch name)") consist almost entirely of a medal; it carries no title, post-nominal letters, formal sash, star, collar or mantle, nor any public announcement of the appointment or place in the order of precedence. George IV created the first Royal Family Order, with later ones created by Victoria (as "The Royal Order of Victoria and Albert" and separated into four classes, the lower two reserved for female courtiers), Edward VII, George V, George VI, and Elizabeth II.
- Similar to this is the Royal Victorian Chain, a token of the monarch's personal esteem first given in 1902 by Edward VII. Like a Royal Family Order, it consists entirely of a chain, but it is awarded to fewer people, mostly outside the Royal Family, and is given by multiple monarchs.
Foreigners can get these titles also, but they generally can't call themselves "Sir" or "Dame". Bono of U2 is an example, as is Bob Geldof, while some countries specifically prohibit their citizens from accepting foreign titles of nobility.
- For the rules for U.S. citizens, see this page on heraldica.org. The basic rule is that you can accept any award or title from a foreign country as long as you're not a public employee or official at the time of the award; if you are, Congress has to consent. Also illegal if the title comes with land, money, or power.
- The rules are less clear for Canadians. Although the Nickle Resolution of 1917 implies that Canadians are not allowed to accept a foreign honour that has not been approved by the Prime Minister, no Canadian citizen has ever been prevented from inheriting a Commonwealth peerage granted to an ancestor. This is why publisher Conrad Black had to renounce his Canadian citizenship before being granted a peerage, but publisher Ken Thomson is still a Canadian citizen - Thomson inherited his. The only old Quebec title still extant is the Barony of Longueuil, which (curiously enough) is currently held by a Scotsman whose grandmother is a cousin of the Queen.
A very common error among non-British creators involves how people with any title entitling them to use "Sir" are addressed or referred to. You only ever say "Sir [firstname surname]", or "Sir [firstname]" if you want to take up less time/space, even if you wouldn't usually be on first name terms with them. "Sir [surname]" is always wrong. For a really glaring and consistent example of how not to do it, see the Dark Horse English translations of Hellsing, where Sir Integra is consistently called "Sir Hellsing" (you can handwave the gender issues).
- Actress (Dame) Judi Dench has mentioned the confusion her title causes in the USA: she is known formally as "Dame Judi", but rather than being called "Dame Dench", which would simply be the wrong application of her actual title, she experiences a very specific form of mislabelling possibly due to her first name's similarity to a different title, which does roll off the tongue - she gets called "Lady Dench"... which would be correct if only she were a peer of the realm. Presumably if she is ever actually elevated to the peerage then she'll get further misnamed "Lady Judi", and so on.
A similar error happens with the "Lord" and "Lady" prefixes. Peers (other than dukes) are, as mentioned above, usually referred to as "Lord/Lady Title-name". The wives of male peers, knights, and baronets are always "Lady Title-name", not and never "Lady Firstname Title-Name". The construction "Lord/Lady Firstname" is considered a "style", not a "title", and is only given to the daughters and younger sons of senior peers - well-known examples include Lady Diana Spencer and the fictional Lord Peter Wimsey, son of a duke. Naturally the media gets this wrong constantly, calling the wife of a knight "Lady Sonia" or, even more strangely, the young daughter of a duke "Lady Wellington". Even better is when a wife or ex-wife of one of these worthies deliberately makes the "mistake" in order to make herself seem more posh than she really is. The most notorious example of this comes from The Thirties, when the young, um, shall we say "glamour model" ex-wife of a doddering old knight advertised herself as "Lady Elizabeth" - which was even more scandalous at the time because people assumed she'd named herself after the six-year-old Princess Elizabeth (the current Queen).
Some Britons (those of the smug, sneering, sarcastic, snide stereotype) seem to think that deliberately getting titles and styles wrong makes them cool and edgy, because it shows that they don't care about these things. In reality it just makes them look ignorant, and arrogantly ignorant at that. Factual inaccuracy generally isn't considered a sign of intellectual superiority.
Another mistake is to confuse the peerage and the knighthood. A noble title gives the holder a voice in the government. Before 1999, all peers sat in the House of Lords; nowadays, all life peers and some hereditary peers do so. Either way, they have a real (if somewhat weak) voice in how the country is governed. A knight, on the other hand, gets a nice medal and the right to be called "Sir" or "Dame". This is especially glaring in shows set in the Victorian Era; at that point in time you needed to have Blue Blood in order to get into the House of Lords, but anyone - fishmonger, toilet manufacturer, tea baron - could be knighted.
As for inheritance... oy. It's easy for life peerages and knighthoods: these are never inherited. Baronetcies are equally simple - they're always passed down to the senior male descendant of the senior male line; the oldest son, the oldest son's oldest son, and so on. Run out of direct male-line male descendants and the baronetage goes extinct. The real confusion is with hereditary peerages, since how they are handed down varies depending on the royal warrant made at the time of the creation of the peerage and even on the country they were created in (Scotland was once an independent country with its own peerage rules, and yes, there are peerages dating back that long). Most English and UK peerages work like baronetcies with only male-line male descendants being able to succeed, but Scots peerages and some English/UK peerages can be inherited by daughters (or, even more confusingly, through daughters to their sons) if the current holder doesn't have any sons. Suffice to say that any writer who intends to tackle the succession of a hereditary peerage would be well-advised to get the advice of an actual expert instead of making things up as he goes along.
So how do you get one of these juicy little titles? Here's some tips:
- Save Western Civilization from falling into the abyss of a new dark age that would've been made even more sinister and protracted by the lights of perverted science. One recipient thus far, via this most notable of methods. And he turned down a peerage (it was proposed that the title Duke of London be created for him), because it would have wrecked his son's political career (you can't be Prime Minister if you are a peer).
- Win a couple of Olympic medals.
- This seems to have crystallised over the last few years into a fixed Sliding Scale of Gold Medal-Holding Ennoblement: every member of a British Olympic squad who wins one gold can expect to receive an MBE – the lowest rank within the Order of the British Empire – in the next Honours List, while doubling up on those golds leads to an OBE, the next rank up. The rare achievement of accumulating three gold medals over an Olympic career will result in a CBE (e.g. Bradley Wiggins after Beijing '08), and the hallowed realm of four golds or more lands you a KBE (Sir Steve Redgrave - although it took until his fifth consecutive gold in 2000 before he got his knighthood - and later his erstwhile rowing partner Sir Matthew Pinsent, and most recently Sir Chris Hoy), or presumably a damehood should any female athlete ever collect four Olympic titles to convert into a DBE. Quite what equivalent quantity of World Championship athletics gold is required to achieve these ranks remains, as yet, unclear.
- Become a Nobel Prize laureate or equivalent.
- Become England soccer manager and win The World Cup. OK, that might be a hard one.
- Likewise rugby: still a challenge, but one that's actually been achieved in this editor's lifetime.
- Cricket too, although more for winning The Ashes rather than the World Cup. Several cricketers from Commonwealth nations have knighthoods as well.
- If you only got a British team to the biggest number of titles imaginable (Alex Ferguson), you might get one as well.
- There was an eensy bit more to it than that (i.e. The Treble).
- Likewise rugby: still a challenge, but one that's actually been achieved in this editor's lifetime.
- Be a high-ranking member of the Civil Service. Hence Sir Humphrey Appleby.
- Be a high-ranking military member or just very good at your job. The military rank goes first.
- Kelly Holmes got an OBE for her military service before acquiring the Damehood for her athletics achievements.
- Which explains the previously-baffling discrepancy between her 'only' winning two Olympic titles yet receiving a DBE, contrary to the established Scale of Gold Medal-Holding Ennoblement - she evidently only needed a pair to upgrade her OBE...
- Kelly Holmes got an OBE for her military service before acquiring the Damehood for her athletics achievements.
- Become head of the Secret Intelligence Service or the Security Service.
- End up in charge of a police service.
- Be a bold explorer, or a pirate who does do things. Especially if it's Spaniards you are plundering (Sir Francis Drake for instance).
- Be a senior politician (Privy Councillor status helps). Ex-Prime Ministers customarily get the Order of the Garter, or equivalent.
- Be a renowned highbrow actor, author, musician, filmmaker or TV production person (like Sir Derek Jacobi; or more obviously Sir Laurence Olivier, later Baron Olivier of Brighton). If your work is merely popular, you'll have to settle for a OBE (like Russell T. Davies). If you're an actor who gets a knighthood or above, you don't use your new title when you're being credited in movies.
- Be a hugely popular and very long-lasting pop music phenomenon: Sir Cliff Richard, Sir Paul McCartney, Dame Vera Lynn, Sir Elton John, Sir Mick Jagger, Sir Tom Jones, Dame Shirley Bassey... You won't find any of them using their title on an album cover except the latter, who is apparently subject to Ben Kingsley Syndrome: she must at all times be referred to as "Dame Shirley" or more puzzlingly "The Dame" (which seems to be approximately a case of confusing a damehood with a peerage: a man calling himself "the Knight" would sound very weird, wouldn't it?) - most egregiously her website not only uses "DSB" as her initials now, but has listed The Dame appearing alongside "Elton John" shorn of his equivalent 'Sir'.
- Sell a lot of computer programs, in the case of William S. Gates III, OBE, former CEO of Microsoft.
- Give the government or governing party a lot of money. Baronetcies were originally always purchased. Even without direct payment, rich people were always more likely to receive any honour, partly because some honours required the holder to live in a certain way (knights, for instance, were originally military officers who had to afford a horse, armor, grooms, servants, etc.) and because poor people wouldn't be able to do any of the things that would bring them to the sovereign's attention. (To be fair, they wouldn't likely be interested in doing any of those things either, since the attitude of the poor of the time was that it was best to keep one's head down and not be noticed.) Officially the grant of titles or honours in exchange for donations to the government, political parties or individuals has been illegal since the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925, which was introduced after a major scandal involving the near-open sale of titles by David Lloyd George's Liberal administration. However, there have been strong public and media suspicions about the number of party donors who have been granted honours by both Labour and Conservative governments in the last thirty years or so. Pissing away vast quantities of money, oddly enough, can work (Sir Fred Goodwin), but only temporarily.
- Be a Teenage Girl who sails around the world in a yacht. Jessica Watson won the Order of Australia by doing this at the age of 16. She is not quite a Dame (the Order of Australia has several levels), but she is not to be sneezed at.
- Buy/own literally any amount of land in Scotland, no matter how small. By Scottish law and custom you are then a lord (or lady).
- Throw (surprisingly little) money at a micronation like the Principality of Sealand.
- Have an ancestor who signed on with the right faction in a Succession Crisis.
- Have an ancestor who was a rich commoner when there were no nobles left alive to compete for disputed estates.
- Have an ancestor who was a rich Protestant commoner who could gain land when The Abbeys came up for auction.
- Have an ancestor who was a successful suck-up generally - who says you have to get a noble title in a noble way?
The rules before about 1837 were somewhat different. Plausible ways in which your historical character can get one of these:
- By being a useful and prominent public servant, such as a member of the Cabinet, head of the military, or Prime Minister. Examples include William Cecil, advisor to Elizabeth I, who became Lord Burghley; John Churchill, advisor (and later general) under five of the Stuarts, who became the Duke of Marlborough; Edward Hyde, the guy who brought Charles II back to England, who became the Earl of Clarendon; and Arthur Wellesley, who conquered most of India, saved Europe from Napoleon, and became Duke of Wellington and a bunch of other things.
- By being a royal bastard (as opposed to a Royal Bastard), at least before about 1760. Many modern hereditary peerages were originally created for Charles II's bastards.
- By sleeping with the sovereign, or by making the sovereign want to sleep with you. The first worked for both George Villiers (under James I) and his distant relative Barbara Villiers Palmer (under Charles II); the second worked for Lord Robert Dudley, who became the Earl of Leicester under (or not under) Elizabeth I.
- By being the King's drinking buddy. Charles II handed them out like candy. The Georges weren't much better, except that with George III they were more like tea-drinking buddies.
- Be eaten by a King who really likes his steak (according to an unlikely but charming legend, one King was impressed enough with his meal to dub it Sir loin).
Ancient English or Scottish honoured characters
Oral Tradition, Myths and Legends
- Any number of the Knights of the Round Table.
Modern British honoured characters
Anime and Manga
- Sir Integral Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing
- Sir Miles Axelrod and Sir Tow Mater from Cars 2.
- Jack Ryan from the Tom Clancy books.
- Brigadier-General Sir Harry Paget Flashman VC KCB KCIE.
- Commander James Bond CMG, RNVR.
- He is offered a knighthood at the end of the novel of The Man with the Golden Gun - he declines.
- Sherlock Holmes declined a knighthood after a Noodle Incident, mentioned in "The Adventure of the Three Garridebs".
- In the BBC television adaption, Sherlock makes a comment that the government "threatened me with a knighthood. Again." after he solves a serial murder case.
- Lord Peter Wimsey is second son of the 15th Duke of Denver. His brother is the 16th Duke, his brother's wife is the Duchess of Denver, their son is the Viscount St George (a courtesy title), and his mother is referred to as the Dowager Duchess. Wimsey's "Lord" is properly a "style", not a title of any kind. (Word of God has it that Lord St.George joined the RAF in WWII and was killed, and that Peter became the 17th Duke; presumably his son Bredon is now the 18th Duke, although he'd be rather old.)
- Sir Harry Pearce from Spooks.
- Yes Minister's Sir Humphrey Appleby and other senior civil servants in the same setting, as discussed in the page quote.
- The Brigadier from Doctor Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures was knighted off-screen by Doctor Who's fourth series, so is now Brigadier Sir Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart.
- The Doctor and Rose get accoladed by Victoria as "Sir Doctor of TARDIS" and "Dame Rose of the Powell Estate" in "Tooth and Claw". Then they are 'invited' to leave the country. The late owner of Torchwood House in that episode was Sir Robert MacLeish, who was the son of a knight that conspired with Prince Albert to fight the werewolf.
- Sir Robert was presumably a baronet if his father was also a "sir".
- Technically, the title "Sir Doctor of TARDIS" is a misnomer because that's not how Victorian knighthoods worked. Mediaevel knighthoods would have worked like that (e.g. Sir Godfrey of Bouillon) but knighthoods (and baronetcies) then and now would be "Sir First-name Surname" (e.g. Sir Hugh Gough, later Viscount Gough). The only way that would work is if the Doctor were a Scottish baronet where their titles are "Sir First-name Surname of Place-name" (e.g. Sir Archibald Grant of Monymusk). Really he should be "Sir Doctor" as he has no apparent first name (or surname for that matter).
- Ian Chesterton is knighted Sir Ian of Jaffa in The Crusade.
- Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley, Lord Asherton (he's the eighth Earl of Asherton).
- His wife Helen was Helen Lynley, Lady Asherton (and can also be referred to as the Countess of Asherton).
- Downton Abbey is about Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham (Lord Grantham) and his family. His wife Cora is the Countess of Grantham (Lady Grantham), his mother is the Dowager Countess (also known as Lady Grantham), and his daughters are all known as 'Lady' (Lady Mary, Lady Edith, and Lady Sybil). The courtesy title that would the eldest son would hold if there was one would be Viscount Downton (Lord Downton). Several other titles also feature. The highest-ranking nobleman to appear is his Grace the Duke of Crowborough (who would never be referred to as 'Lord Crowborough'), but there is also the Marquess of Flintshire (Lord Flintshire) and his wife the Marchioness (Lady Flintshire, Lord Grantham's cousin). There are also two 'sirs': Sir Anthony Strallan (who may be a baronet and his deceased wife was Lady Strallan) and Sir Richard Carlisle (who is definitely not a baronet; and if Lady Mary married him, she would still Lady Mary Carlisle rather than just Lady Carlisle because her already-existing courtesy title holds precedence).
- Lady Lara Croft, of the Tomb Raider games, a hereditary title. There was a letters column discussion in Private Eye over whether she is the Countess of Abingdon.
- Admiral Sir Geoffrey Tolwyn from Wing Commander, though the specifics aren't given.
- Halo's Fleet Admiral Lord Terrence Hood. No specifics provided but we can assume he's the latest Viscount Hood, in which case he's following the family tradition
- The Spiffing Brit has bought several noble titles from the Principality of Sealand (which follows British usage), usually as a strange incentive for viewers to add "likes" to his videos. And as part of an early 2021 video he has acquired several square feet of land in Scotland, which by Scottish law and custom actually makes him a lord.
Analogous (not English/Scottish or British) honoured characters
- Honor Harrington got the title of Duchess to give her enough local status to attend parties on her homeworld at roughly the level that she would at an allied planet where she went native and which had a different system. She very much earned the title of Dame in battle. White Haven is her husband's estate toward the end of her career. All that is relevant as the Manticoran aristocracy resembles the British one except in the time of writing it still has political teeth (that is a noble can serve on cabinet, and resigning from the Lords to run in Commons was an interesting gambit but not a politically necessary one as it is in Real Life Britain).
- In GURPS Traveller the volume Nobles details the system of Nobility of the Third Imperium. The titles are for the most part drawn from the British system. One quirk is that the duties are separated from the fiefdoms (a Baron is effectively hereditary mediator between a single planet and the Emperor but this fief is not his planet; in even higher grades, the fief is likely to be far away from the world where their duties take place). The fief is officially given to provide expenses for the noble life, and unofficially to provide a hostage for the Noble's behavior, and is traditionally a landed estate but may take another form. It is to be noted that there are several levels of nobility, including "honor" nobility who got it for achievement, "rank" nobility to adjust the level of precedence of Imperial military or civil servants, and "high" nobility who are actually a type of satrap or as has been said a mediator with the public of a given planet or group of planets.
- As the Imperium is decentralized and has planets who were acquired by willing annexation, conquest, colonization or some combination thereof some planets have local systems of nobility some of which existed even before the Imperium. If there is likely to be confusion between titles the adjective "parochial" is placed on (I.E. it is illegal to have a planetary ruler be an Emperor for obvious reasons but he can be a "parochial emperor").