The esteemed noble rank of Duke is one of the most elevated titles within the ancient system of aristocratic ranks. 

For centuries, the position of a Duke has commanded respect and admiration from all levels of society. From the reverence and esteem of the common village folk of the Middle Ages, even to the highest social circles within medieval royal courts, the title of Duke has historically evoked a unique dignity and stature, possessing a rarified position within society throughout even the most tumultuous cultural changes. 

Even in modern times, there’s something intriguing and aspirational about the rank of Duke, as it remains a rare vestige of aristocratic heritage and social elevation. 

Arthur Wellesley, First Duke of Wellington
Thomas Lawrence, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

So, it’s little wonder that many people still wonder how it is possible to attain the lofty rank of Duke or Duchess, and whether you can still legally acquire a Dukedom. The good news is that even in modern times, with the golden days of the aristocratic system so far in the distant past, it is still possible to become a Duke or a Duchess

While the opportunities for attaining such an esteemed and rare noble status are not quite as accessible as in centuries past, when monarchs would regularly appoint new dukedoms or ennoble commoners to positions of aristocracy, there are still a number of ways to legally become a Duke

Here are the few remaining options for legally acquiring a Dukedom in modern society. 

Inheriting a Dukedom

If you’re lucky enough to have the title of Duke within your family heritage, it’s possible that you could be in line to inherit the position, and this would be a legitimate way to become a Duke. 

With the gradual decline of the aristocracy over recent centuries, the occasions of inheriting noble titles such as Duke or Duchess have dwindled substantially. but there are still rare titles that can legally be passed onto future generations. 

If you’re keen to discover any links to old forgotten or dormant aristocratic ranks within your family line, it’s possible to use one of the many family history services that have evolved precisely to satisfy this common curiosity. 

Many service providers can help you trace your family line back many generations, and there are some specialist services that help to specifically search for any noble or royal connections. 

Even though the odds may be quite remote that you find you’re the next in line for a noble title of the stature of Duke, you may nevertheless discover a fascinating history within your ancestral line, which is very likely to have some aristocratic connections at some point. 

While this may not lead to an official claim to a Dukedom, you may discover a noble or fascinating aspect of your heritage that makes such an enquiry a truly fulfilling exercise. 

Purchasing a Noble Title

It may be a little-known route to official aristocratic status, but it is still possible in certain circles to legally purchase a noble title and become the legitimate bearer of that title. 

For example, if your preferred new rank is that of a Duke or Duchess, there’s a chance that genuine titles of that rank may come up for sale within the specialist markets for such titles. 

While the purchasing of noble titles may not be regarded as the most obvious entrée into the world of the aristocracy, it is a path chosen by many aspiring nobles throughout the centuries. It’s even true that some of the most esteemed and respected noble lines that endure today may have been the results of a commercial transaction many generations prior. 

The opportunities for purchasing noble titles vary over time, and these days genuine aristocratic titles are increasingly rare, with many only becoming available for purchase quietly through the discrete vendors who handle such sensitive transactions. A rank such as Duke or Duchess may also be one of the more difficult purchases to source, given their stature and limited availability. 

Yet, it is certainly a possible and even respectable option for acquiring noble status and initiating a new aristocratic lineage within your family line. 

Receiving a Duke Or Duchess Title From a Monarch

In the days of old, when the original aristocracy began, the vast majority of new nobles were not royals. They were the valued servants and subjects of the sovereign, who gained favour and were granted rewards in the form of noble titles, elevating their status to that of an aristocrat. 

While it is still technically possible for a reigning monarch to issue new noble titles to non-royals, this is no longer common practice in the modern world. 

For example, the Dukedoms that have been issued by the Queen of England in recent decades have largely been as gifts to her family, those already bearing royal or noble status. 

Rare exceptions included the appointment of Duke or Duchess to the spouses of royal children and grandchildren, such as the Duchess of Windsor (Wallis Simpson), the Duchess of Cornwall (Camilla Parker-Bowles), the Duchess of Cambridge (Kate Middleton), and the Duchess of Sussex (Meghan Markle). 

Although the practices vary in the few remaining monarchies around the world, these days, the odds are very slight of being appointed a noble title by a sovereign, especially at such a lofty rank as duke or duchess. 

So if your heritage does not place you within the royal family or in line for inheriting a Dukedom, the only ways to legally become a Duke are to marry into a position that can officially bear the title, such as the spouse of a duchess, or to take the simplest and often the easiest route that aristocrats have opted for throughout the ages – that of taking their status and fortunes into their own hands and acquiring noble status through a simple commercial transaction. 

While this may not carry the prestige of an ancient family line of ducal heritage, it is a legitimate and respectable way to ensure a noble lineage for the generations that follow. 

This kind of forward-thinking and reverence for future generations is one of the hallmarks of the original aristocracy, and promises an esteemed future for the descendants of those who take such a bold and proactive claim over their own destiny and that of their family for generations to come.