Here is a mnemonic with which to remember the order of precedence of the ranks of the British aristocracy:

"Does Mi'lord Ever Visit Brighton Beach?"

(Duke, Marquis, Earl, Viscount, Baron, Baronet)

The title "Count" is not used. William the Conqueror tried to introduce it to replace the Anglo-Saxon "Earl", but failed - although an Earl's wife is still called a "Countess".

The term "Lord" is not included because it is just a courtesy title applied to nobles of rank between Marquis and Baron, and also given to the children of Dukes and Marquesses.

The lowest remaining hereditary rank (Baronet) is entitled "Sir xxx", and has the suffix Bt. after the person's name (differentiating them from an ordinary Knight whose title is not hereditary but merely honorary). A Baronetcy also differs from other hereditary titles by not being a Peer (and thus not entitled to attend the House of Lords).

Within the premier rank of Duke, there is also a certain precedence or "pecking order" determined by the date of creation of each title. The premier British dukedom is that of the Catholic Duke of Norfolk, created in 1483 -the Howards - whose seat is in Sussex (at Arundel Castle).

Nevertheless Dukes have not always been popular with the monarchy. For example, after Queen Elizabeth's government executed the Duke of Norfolk in 1572, England had no Dukes at all until King James I invested his friend George Villiers as Duke of Buckingham in 1623 (since when several Dukedoms have been restored, including Norfolk, and other new ones created such as the land-owning Duke of Westminster in 1894 - the Grosvenors - then and now still the richest man in Britain).


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