From the Grand Old Duke of York of history books and nursery rhymes, to the modern royal Dukes who regularly hit the headlines, the world has long been captivated by the various famous Dukes. 

Some of the most legendary Dukes of history were the military champions of Europe. Given that many of the noble titles that we know today originated from military terms and ranks, it’s not surprising that so many of the famous Dukes throughout the ages were renowned for their bravery in the field of battle or their strategic genius in leading their men to victory. 

These infamous and iconic Dukes have created an air of intrigue and fascination around this esteemed title of nobility. It’s little wonder that many people around the world like to imagine what it might be like to live the life of such a high-ranking member of the aristocracy. 

It’s often believed that there are no longer any ways for ordinary people to become a Duke, if they weren’t born into the right family or live in the right country. 

People in America may feel that because their country doesn’t have a system of nobility, there are no options for acquiring a genuine noble title. 

The good news is that there are still ways to become a Duke, even if you live in a republic that has no formal social hierarchy of its own. 

How To Become A Duke

Historically, the usual way to become a Duke was to impress the reigning sovereign. Dukedoms, like many noble ranks and titles, were traditionally granted only by a king, queen or other type of reigning monarchs. 

During the Middle Ages, when so many of the titles of nobility were originally created, the customary route to a Dukedom (a title of a Duke) was to win an important war or military operation. 

In later periods, monarchs would sometimes grant the noble title of Duke as a gift for their favourite courtiers. Many of these royal gifts were hereditary titles, which is why there are still some historic Duke titles around today. 

Other than charming a king or queen, another way to become a Duke was to inherit the title. For example, if a great warrior was made a Duke in reward for his services to the crown, he would often be entitled to pass the Dukedom to his descendants. 

These hereditary titles were usually passed down the male line of descent, from father to son, and normally to the eldest son when possible. These hereditary ducal titles could often be passed on through many generations. 

A modern example of this is the 7th Duke of Westminster, one of the wealthiest aristocrats in England. As his title suggests, the rank and status of Duke of Westminster have been passed down through his family for several generations. The most recent holder of the title, Hugh Grosvenor, is a direct descendant of the original Duke – the 1st Duke of Westminster, who was ennobled from the rank of Marquess of Westminster by Queen Victoria. 

Hugh Richard Louis Grosvenor, 7th Duke of WestminsterUK Government, OGL 3, via Wikimedia Commons

Can You Become A Duke In America?

The traditional ways of becoming a Duke – currying favour with a sovereign or inheriting the title – are no longer viable options for the vast majority of people in the modern world. This is even more unlikely for those who live in a country without a monarchy or a formal system of nobility, such as America. 

Yet, there’s still the opportunity for aspiring citizens who dream of elevating their social standing to the lofty realm of Dukes and Duchesses. Because there is a route to acquiring noble titles that has roots almost as ancient as the titles themselves, and is still available in the modern world, and that’s the little-known possibility of simply purchasing a genuine title of aristocracy. 

Buying noble titles is a practice that has been a part of the nobility for centuries. There’s likely to be a great many modern nobles who have family ties to aristocrats that were not born into the right lineage but who nevertheless acquired the desired rank by commercial endeavours. 

There are even specialist agencies who are experts in sourcing these noble titles when they become available for sale – something that doesn’t happen very often, and yet is still very much a part of the modern-day aristocracy. 

While it’s possible to purchase a range of genuine noble titles with the right connections, it’s true that the title of Duke may be one of the most rare. Dukes and Duchesses are the very epitome of social elevation – they outrank almost every other title of aristocracy, such as Counts and Countesses, Barons and Baronesses, Lords and Ladies etc…

As a result, sourcing a Duke title for sale may not be something that is easy or even possible for anyone without the right connections or guidance. 

Yet, these titles do occasionally become available, so it’s possible for those who have what it takes to track down these rare and unique titles to simply complete the formal transaction and begin to look forward to their new life as a genuine Duke. 

Can Americans Buy Noble Titles?

There’s sometimes some confusion about whether Americans can purchase titles of nobility. This is understandable, after all, America doesn’t have a formal system of aristocracy, so it’s common to wonder whether a noble title would be an option for American citizens. 

Yet the good news is that people from anywhere in the world can purchase a noble title, because it’s the country of the title’s origin that gives it the legitimacy, not the place where the new recipient lives or was born. 

There are many American people who have gone on to acquire titles of nobility from other countries around the world. A famous example from recent times is Meghan Markle, the actress from California who has become a high-ranking member of the British Royal Family and is a Royal Duchess.

The possibility for American people to acquire noble titles is still very much available. So, with a little know-how and the right resources, even those from a republican country can join the ranks of the world’s legendary nobles and become a bona fide Duke or Duchess.