Marriage has traditionally been one of the simplest ways to elevate social status for those of us not born into the highest echelons of society. 

Throughout the ages, ordinary people or those of lower noble ranks have aspired to greater status and viewed an advantageous marriage as their preferred route to attaining it. 

In modern times, when kings and queens rarely ennoble their subjects – ie, grant them noble titles – marriage may seem like the only route into the aristocracy. 

The closed circles of royal families may seem even more impenetrable, with marriage being regarded as the only possible way to enter this gilded realm. 

The traditional childhood fantasy of many young girls is to marry their Prince Charming and live happily ever after as a beautiful princess, and this fairytale has indeed played out, in reality, a number of times throughout the ages. 

But what if you want to become a prince? 

The Husband of a Princess

In simplest terms, the husband of a princess is called a prince, and so it seems obvious that unless you’re born into the appropriate royal family, the way to become a prince is to marry a princess

In reality, however, the answer is a little more complex. 

For example, as kings and queens have changed the rules around royal titles over the ages, there are occasions where marrying a Princess doesn’t automatically guarantee you’ll attain the title of Prince

The new husband of a royal princess may instead be granted a noble title, such as a Duke, which is a high-ranking aristocratic status that is regarded as the next best thing to royal status. 

Or the title may be modified to indicate status by marriage rather than legitimate blue blood or genuine royal birth. For example, the title of Prince Consort or Royal Consort has been used by some monarchies when there is a desire to acknowledge the important stature of a royal marriage partner, without granting them the title of king or queen. 

Albert (Prince Consort), Queen Victoria and their nine children, 1857
Caldesi and Montecchi (fl.1857-67), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Additionally, sometimes a prince is not the husband of a princess but rather the husband of a queen. One famous example is the late Prince Phillip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II of England. It seems confusing that in this case the husband of a queen is not called a king, but it relates to traditions and restrictions around royal consorts and the strict criteria for a reigning sovereign. 

So while the plan to marry a princess and become a prince may seem straightforward, in reality, it is much more complex, not to mention highly unlikely for the vast majority of the population. 

Purchasing a Royal Title

While marriage has traditionally provided a fast track into the privileged and glamourous lives of the world’s royal families, it is not the only way to access this elite world and enjoy life as a member of royalty. 

There is a little-known path into the world of royalty that may seem like a modern commercialised approach, but it has actually been common practice by the aristocracy themselves for centuries, and that path is to simply purchase a genuine royal title of prince or princess

So if you have your sights set on a royal title, yet there are no eligible princes or princesses agreeable to your hand in marriage (or you’re not prepared to take that route), there’s still a chance that you could become a prince or a princess in your own right, simply by seeking the relevant royal title for sale and officially purchasing it to become the legal owner of the princely title and rank, with all the benefits that come with it.  

Purchasing a Noble Title

If you are keen to advance your social standing, you may be happy to hear that it’s not just royal titles that are available – which is fortunate as these are extremely rare and only becoming more scarce and more sought after. 

In addition to the few royal titles that are occasionally available to buy, it’s also possible to purchase official noble titles and attain genuine aristocratic ranks

There tends to be a wider selection of nobility titles than royal titles, simply because historically there have been many more nobles and aristocrats than legitimate royals. And there is also a wider range of ranks and titles, and these vary in stature and esteem. 

For example, there are often a fair number of Lordships and Ladyships available, and while these respected titles often possess historic lineage or even ancient roots, they were among the more popular and prevalent titles throughout the development of the nobility. They are also among the lower-ranking titles, a kind of entry-level status within the aristocratic hierarchy. 

At the opposite end of the scale are the Dukes and Duchesses. These rank at the very top of the table of noble titles, just one step down from royalty itself. While these are obviously much rarer than some of the other noble titles, there are sometimes occasions when it is still possible to purchase the title of Duke or Duchess

In addition to the rarest and most prevalent noble titles, there’s a whole range of mid-ranking aristocratic ranks that also become available to buy. Again these can be quite scarce in modern times, but with the right connections, it’s possible to acquire a highly respectable aristocratic title such as Marquis, Marchioness, Count, Countess, Viscount, Viscountess, Earl, Baron, Baroness, Baronet, and Baronetess. 

The marriage route into the royal and noble circles is almost as old as the aristocracy itself, yet the commercial route also claims centuries of history and practice. Even during the heyday of sovereign families and their vast courts of aristocrats, it wasn’t uncommon for noble families to fall on hard times and sell off their titles, which were even then regarded as highly valuable assets. 

With an ever-decreasing selection of royal and noble titles available, there are far fewer opportunities to marry into these elite and fascinating social realms. So, for those aspiring to a higher social rank than their birth origin would suggest, the good news is that it’s still possible to raise your station and attain official noble or even royal status. You may even find that you then become regarded as a highly eligible marriage partner yourself.