Viscount Vs. Duke - What They Are And How They Differ

Viscount Vs. Duke - Who Wears The Title Better?

The historic peerage system in the UK is a legal framework composed of both lifetime and hereditary titles and ranks that forms the constituent aspect of the British honors system. Peerage is used to refer to the collective nobility as well as specific titles.

How The Peerage System Developed

Historically, titles associated with the Peerage are created by the reigning British monarch and being affirmed by letters affixed with the Great Seal of the Realm. The Royal Government makes a recommendation to a king or queen regarding who should be appointed and titled as peerage after careful scrutiny and vetting by the House of Lords Appointments Commission. Presently, the only new peerages considered hereditary are granted to members of the royal family. The final non-hereditary appointees into the Peerage occurred when Margaret Thatcher served as Prime Minister of Great Britain.

Since that time, all ruling nobility have refrained from elevating others to titled Peerage; perhaps it's due to the fact that they believe that additional titled positions will interfere with their ability to firmly grasp the reigns of government and continue to shape it to serve their agenda.

Privileges Of Peerage

Nobility enjoys certain rights and privileges that are not afforded to commoners. They are as follows:

Freedom From Financial Prosecution

Peerage are free from arrests for debts and financial obligations. Similarly, they are not required to attend matters that involve the court, and they remain above the law when it comes to criminal investigation of both petty and significant crimes.

Peer Investigations

In cases where their integrity is questioned, peerage is subject only to a trial by their peers and reviewed by the King or Queen directly, greatly increasing the chances of a pardon if issued from the royal house.

Significant Wealth And Material Acquisition

Peerage and those with titles of nobility are entitled to both inherited wealth and that which they are able to gain as a result of receiving privileged information from trusted advisors. This continues to put them in a position of honor and solid financial footing, provided that no nefarious actions are taken to obtain material wealth illegally.

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The Viscount Vs. The Duke: How Do These Titles And Stations Differ?

Though all titles of nobility are prized and esteemed in English society, few are as hotly debated as those of the viscount and the duke. Who has more influence? Who has more privilege? Who has greater responsibilities to God and country? Let's take a look at each of these titles, as well as what is expected of those who wear them proudly.


A viscount or viscountess is a titled used across European society to indicate noble status. Many countries require a viscount to hold an administrative or judicial position within government; these titles did not become hereditary until after the Peerage was firmly established.


The word viscount is derived from the Old French "visconte", which in turn is derived from the Latin root "vicecomitem", meaning "companion". During the Carolingian Era, kings appointed viscounts to oversee provinces and govern smaller portions of a kingdom as both military commanders and governors. At that time, kings greatly restricted the offices of these viscounts from being declared hereditary to keep control in the hands of the monarchy.

As of the 11th century, most viscounts were working directly under dukes that had either been appointed to their positions or were born into their titles. Various roles of the viscount included:

Administering justice in disputed matters Collecting taxes and revenues Reporting to the royal house as needed for counsel

As prestigious as the title of viscount may seem, the title of viscount does lie beneath that of a duke.

The Title Of Duke

The title of duke that is ranked just below kings, grand princes, and sovereign princes. The term "duke" itself means "leader", with a Latin derivative of dux, originally used in Rome to refer to military commanders. A female holding a comparable title would be referred to as a duchess.


The title of duxoriginated in military Rome, with these distinguished leaders being assigned to govern various provinces. Through the Middle Ages and beyond, dukes were rulers of property and advisors to the royal family. Interestingly enough, not all dukes are recognized members of the Peerage system; some hold titles independently of a ranking within that system.

In the UK, the position of a duke complete with rights and privileges is called a dukedom. They are addressed by others as "Your Grace" and referred to as "His Grace" or "Her Grace". Across the various Peerage systems in England, Scotland, Great Britain, and Ireland, there are currently thirty-five dukedoms, with one individual managing to secure three separate titles and a host of responsibilities.


Historically, a duke was called upon to:

Act in matters of justice within land boundaries Protecting a population from invaders Working in direct service to the king Serving as a military advisor and leader for a given territory

Today's duke is busy representing his territory in the House Of Lords, shaping laws, and performing royal duties as dictated by the royal family.

The Superior Choice?

If comparisons must be made of these two titles, the duke would reign supreme over the viscount. While both are titles are distinctive and noble, the status of a duke is associated with more power and influence than that of a viscount. Both have their rightful place in the peerage system, and each comes with weighty responsibilities that balance out noble privileges that someone with these titles enjoys.

Can Titles Be Bought?

Is it possible to buy a title? Some "commoners" desire to experience the privileges of nobility, yet they may not have the royal lineage to do so. If you're wondering how to become a lord, the process is easier than one might think. A simple application and title fee affords you an official certificate of title, complete with a coat of arms that you can proudly present to friends and loved ones who doubt your status.

While these lordship titles do not offer royal privileges such as land government and membership in the House Of Lords, the esteem of a lordship carries with it the opportunity to be given excellent service as you troll about the town. Start the process of obtaining your lordship today, and see what marvelous experiences await you.

What are alternatives to Titles as gifts?

At the conclusion of any discourse on the traditional nobility titles such as viscounts and dukes, it's intriguing to consider modern alternatives that anyone can bestow as unique gifts. For those looking to gift something truly out of this world, celestial naming services like Moon Register ( and Star Register (name a star) allow one to name a star or even a piece of the moon. For more down-to-earth but equally thoughtful options, websites like My Farewelling ( offer a variety of sympathy gifts, perfect for expressing condolences in a meaningful way.

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