A Bridgerton's Guide to the World of British Noble Titles

     One of the all-time favorite Netflix series is back, and it's all about Bridgerton! Over a year and a half since the second season blessed our screens, Lady Whistledown has dropped a major announcement: a new season is on the way, and Netflix has been teasing us with trailers and sneak peeks to get our hearts racing. But here's the twist - this time, it’s about the romantic entanglements of Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) and Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton). And the important thing is, we should be ready for a rollercoaster ride of love, drama, and scandal in the upcoming season of Bridgerton. But for non-commoners, or should we call ourselves outsiders?-- to British society and the monarchy, things might be confusing as we wonder what's so special about being noble or having a viscount title, or if it's so hard to be a duchess. Well, this article will give you a small, but valuable insight into the British's prestigious titles.

    Welcome to the exciting world of British nobility, where fancy and old customs mix. As fans of the popular Netflix show 'Bridgerton', we should get lost in the beautiful parties and secret stories of Regency-era London because the idea of noble titles is once again interesting. And behind these fancy things, there is the real world of the rich and powerful, where titles like Duke, Duchess, Earl, and Viscount are essential for many families. Just like the gossip sheets in 'Bridgerton' tell about love and secrets, the world of the British royal family has its own special rules.

    Speaking about royalty and nobility, the highest prestige is undeniably held by the ruling monarch, which is a king and a queen, a position that in the "Bridgerton" series is embodied by Queen Charlotte. This character, based on the historical Queen Charlotte, Queen Consort of Great Britain and Ireland, is portrayed with a blend of historical accuracy and fictional embellishments, offering a compelling narrative that delves into the complexities of royal life and the societal shifts of the era.

    Well, after the queen itself, is the “prince” title. The title of prince is not a rank in the peerage but is a title of royalty. It is derived from the Latin word "princeps," which means the first citizen. In the British monarchy, the title of a prince is given to the eldest son of the monarch or the eldest son of the monarch's eldest son. The title of a princess is given to the monarch's eldest daughter or the eldest daughter of the monarch's eldest son. The correct form of address for a prince or princess is "Your Royal Highness." However, when talking about peerage, the Duke has the highest rank in the peerage category after the monarchy itself. The title of Duke is derived from the Latin "dux," meaning leader. It originally signified Sovereign status and was not adopted as a peerage title until 1337 when Edward III made his eldest son, Edward the Black Prince, the Duke of Cornwall. Typically, a prince in the royal line becomes a duke either upon reaching adulthood or upon marriage. For instance, Prince William became the Duke of Cambridge when he married Catherine in 2011, who also became the Duchess of Cambridge. Dukes and duchesses are the only members of the peerage referred to as "His Grace" and "Her Grace," respectively. William and Catherine, as members of royalty, are addressed as "His Royal Highness" and "Her Royal Highness," respectively, on first address, and "Sir" and "Ma'am" thereafter.


    In the context of "Bridgerton," the title of a prince is used to denote the highest rank within the aristocracy. In Bridgerton Season 1, the show's main character, the Duke of Hastings, is a prince by birth and holds a significant position within the British nobility. Another side character who also holds the prince title is Prince Friedrich, who is introduced as Queen Charlotte's nephew, and a prince of Prussia. The title of a prince is associated with power, wealth, and prestige, and the show explores the complexities and responsibilities that come with holding such a title.

    The title second to Duke is Marquess, originating from the Norman word "marchis," which referred to earls or barons who guarded the Welsh and Scottish marches, or border territories. The title was first conferred by Richard II onto Robert de Vere, Earl of Oxford, who became Marquess of Dublin in 1385. The wife of a marquess is styled "marchioness," and both marquesses and marchionesses are addressed as "Lord" and "Lady," respectively, as are the members of all the lower ranks of the peerage.

    Earl is the third-highest rank in the British nobility, originating from the Old English word "eorl," which means "a man of noble birth or rank." It was first introduced in England during the reign of Canute (1016–35) and can be traced back to Scandinavia. The title is equivalent to the French "comte" or German "Graf" (count). There is no female styling of "earl," and a woman who holds the rank, or the wife of an earl, is styled "countess." Similarly, as with Marquess and Marquesses, Earls are addressed as "Lord" and "Lady." In the Bridgerton series, there is no specific character that holds the title of Marquess or Earl, and it is not explicitly mentioned in the Bridgerton or Queen Charlotte series, at least.

    Viscount is the fourth rank in the peerage system. It was first used in 1440 when Henry VI, who was king of both England and France, combined the titles of the two countries, making John, Lord Beaumont, both Viscount Beaumont in England and Viscount Beaumont in France. The title gained popularity during the 17th century. A woman who holds this rank or is married to a viscount is known as a viscountess. A viscount or viscountess is addressed as ‘Lord’ or ‘Lady’.

    In Bridgerton, Anthony Bridgerton, the eldest son of the Bridgerton family, inherits the title of viscount after his father's death. On the other hand, Violet Bridgerton, Anthony's mother, is the only viscountess in the series until Kate Sharma marries Anthony and becomes Viscountess Bridgerton. Viscounts were once appointed by the monarchy and held a position similar to a sheriff. When Anthony marries Kate, she becomes a viscountess by extension of her husband's title, but she still ranks below the title of duchess in the Bridgerton nobility ranks.

    The title "Baron" is the fifth and lowest in the British Peerage. This title was introduced by the Normans originating from the Old German "baro," meaning "freeman," and was first formally created for John Beauchamp de Holt, who was made Baron Kidderminster by Richard II in 1387. The wife of a baron is referred to as a "baroness," and all children are addressed as "Honorables." Barons are also addressed as "Lord," and the title "Baron" is rarely used.

    The Bridgerton character that holds the Baron title is the Featherington family. The Featherington family, with their late Baron Featherington, ranks below the Bridgertons in London high society due to the difference in their titles. Baroness Featherington, on the other hand, perceived herself as high and mighty, falls behind Violet Bridgerton despite her titled rank. The Baroness's rivalry with the neighboring lady and her family's secrets contribute to her unpopularity among the Ton families.
    Below the peerage are honorary ranks that include baronet and knight, two classes that bear similarities to the nobility but are generally not regarded as such. The title 'Baronet' is a hereditary rank in the British peerage, introduced in the 14th century by King James I to raise funds for a war in Ireland. It is lower than the peerage but above the rank of knight in the hierarchy. Unlike other titles in the peerage, baronetcies are not created by the monarch but are sold to individuals whose annual income is at least £1000 and whose paternal grandfather was entitled to a coat of arms. The only hereditary honor that is not a peerage, the baronetcy is not used by the monarch or their family, and the title is passed down through the male line. There is no such explanation or special mention regarding the baronet character in the Bridgerton series.
    In the world of 'Bridgerton,' the British nobility hierarchy plays a central role, with various families holding specific titles and ranks. This intricate web of titles and ranks not only defines the characters' social standing but also shapes their relationships and the narrative's intrigue.
    So, what would be your dream title if you were a member of one of the British noble families, like the Ton family? And do you think in today's society, this rank or status really matters? Especially for non-commoners like us, do we truly support a monarch with a fancy title, who achieved success at the cost of many things, not to mention years of colonization? Well, we're going to enjoy Bridgerton season 3 in peace, so let's save opinions for our next conversation! Cheers.





Writer : Rani Roanliq Lamahayu

Editor : Iman Amila Fitra