While the social spheres of royalty and the nobility have been an integral part of human evolution for over a thousand years, within that time, there have been numerous trends and subtle changes. 

The Evolution Of Royal Titles

The social structures and hierarchies that we know today are the result of many variations and developments within royal legislature and aristocratic regulations. 

With each new monarch, there are often new ideas and sometimes sweeping changes in the precise details regarding royal titles and their noble equivalent – aristocratic ranks and status. 

Over time, these individual changes can amalgamate to create strong traditions that are adhered to generation after generation. Yet, there are also shifts and trends within this evolution, some of which are fleeting and inconsequential in the long term, whereas others have staying power and eventually become a recognised part of the age-old traditions. 

Which of the modern trends will stick and which will fade away? Only time will tell, and the future of royal titles and aristocratic structures is as subject to the wider world as ever. For now, though, here are some of the current trends for noble and royal titles. 

Duchess – The New Princess

One recent trend with British royal titles relates to the styling and status of women marrying into what’s known as The Establishment, i.e. the inner circle and close family of Queen Elizabeth II. 

The British royal family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace – Carfax2, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In recent times, there has been a change in the protocol for the titling of these new members of the royal family. In the past, a woman marrying a royal prince would usually adopt the same rank of title, ice princess. A contemporary trend has seen this tradition shift toward the elevation of a new type of royal title – the royal duchess

It’s widely believed that this alteration was in response to the increasing divorce rate within the royal family, and the usage of the title of Princess for those not born into the Windsor family line. 

Whatever the roots of this modern trend, however, it has created an exciting and glamourous new category of modern royal, one that captivates media attention and the public’s imagination, both within the UK and around the world. 

Knights & Dames – The New Nobles

It’s no secret that in modern times, there are far fewer royal grants of new noble and aristocratic titles than during the heyday of the noble classes. 

In times past, it was not uncommon for a monarch to regularly grant a royal decree to a favourite within the court or a valiant military champion. These royal gifts and gestures were the origin of many of the noble lines and heritage that still exist today. Yet modern monarchs seem to be far more discerning in their granting of new titles. 

One benefit of the reduced royal grants is that those noble titles currently in existence maintain an air of exclusivity that only adds to their value and appeal. For those who aspire to noble status, though, it can mean the options and likelihood of attaining aristocratic status in the modern world are greatly reduced. 

There is one route to noble ranks that is still open to people from all walks of life, however. It’s a thoroughly modern pathway that is rooted in equal opportunity and inclusivity – in theory, it’s openly available for anyone to attain. 

This contemporary route to the possession of a legitimate noble title – complete with royal grant and recognition – is the attainment of a modern Knighthood or Damehood.

In today’s world, despite the reduction in new noble titles, it’s possible for anyone to rise through the ranks of their chosen profession and vocation and enjoy this esteemed level of royal approval. In this way, the newly-created knights and dames of industry, science, sport, culture and commerce are the new nobles of 21st-century society. 

Purchasing Royal Titles – An Age-Old Tradition

One interesting new trend in royal and aristocratic titles is the commercial approach to acquiring royal status or a genuine noble rank. This practice of purchasing titles is becoming increasingly popular, with many people from all walks of life taking an interest in the realm of noble living, and being proactive in elevating their social status. 

While this new trend has seen a growth in interest in recent years, the very nature of royal and noble titles means that there are still only a few genuine titles that become available for purchase. 

This limitation ensures that such assets maintain their exclusivity, protecting the rarity factor of such historic titles. It also ensures that only the truly discerning types, those who greatly value the rich history and calibre of such acquisitions, will go to the lengths required to attain royal or noble status. 

Curiously, this trend of purchasing aristocratic and noble titles may seem like a very modern and commercial approach to becoming part of the established nobility, yet it is actually an age-old practice within the aristocracy itself. 

For centuries, ambitious or socially-advancing individuals have elevated their family’s status and rank through the purchasing of noble titles. It’s a practice that even has the royal seal of approval, given that numerous monarchs over the centuries have made certain titles available for sale in order to boost royal coffers. 

So even though there has been an increased interest in the purchasing of royal titles in recent years, this modern trend is one that has deep and historic roots, following an age-old tradition staunchly ingrained in the nobility itself. 

As the modern monarchies of the world adapt to the latest social changes, political developments and cultural shifts, there will likely continue to be alterations to the nature of royal titles and the granting of noble ranks. 

While the ancient and rich traditions are undoubtedly part of the charm and appeal of the royal circles, it’s encouraging that within the age-old practices there is some room for evolution and innovation. 

This openness to embracing modern culture and adapting accordingly is likely what will keep the monarchy relevant in today’s world, as well as being relatable to millions of ordinary people around the globe.