Thursday, August 19, 2010

Writing Royal and Nobility Titles:

I have read many books and been to numerous movies where they get the title of either nobility or royalty wrong. Maybe it’s an American thing, or maybe it’s the century we live in. In my epic fantasy, ‘The Treasures of Carmelidrium,’ I have both royalty and nobility hanging around my all American modern heroine. She’s confused too. So I thought it would be fun to give a little heads up and maybe I can help someone out there or at least provide a little education.

We will just mention the royal titles and the higher nobility. Anyone below a Duke is addressed as my lord or my lady depending on gender anyway. That is pretty straight forward.

Put yourself in the moment, there’s your character, or actor, bowing respectfully to the king or queen and says, “Your Highness.” That sounds okay, I mean, we’ve heard it and read it a hundred times by now, isn’t it correct?

No, the king is addressed either as “Your Majesty,” or as “Sire.” Why sire? because he is a symbol of fatherhood to his countrymen. The queen would be addressed as, “Your Majesty,” or “Madam .” In a polite manner with due respect and not as some reading this will suppose, a lady of the night. Unless she’s a vampire and that is an entirely different subject.

A prince or a princess is addressed as, “Your Highness.” To my knowledge I don’t think there is a word used similar to ‘sire,’ or ‘madam,’ unless it is ‘lord,’ and ‘lady.’

A duke is a title either appointed by the king or queen or one you’re born into. Women cannot be dukes. Remember, this is the age before women’s lib. So, if you say to the duke, “My Lord,” you are mistaken. He is “Your Grace.” His wife is “My Lady.”

It is correct to say, “Your Lordship,” and “Your Ladyship.” But if you did you’d better be addressing a count or viscount or one of the other lesser nobility.

In my epic fantasy I created a new title. I wanted to tweak the medieval world a little and I ended up changing it a lot. It’s a fantasy after all. My new title for nobility is ‘Friend-Brother.’ This is an honorary title given to a good friend of the heir apparent and he is higher than a duke. Therefore, he should be addressed as, “Your Grace.”

Back in the real world, I am liable to call out, “Hey you,” when I want to talk to someone who is ignoring me.

What do you think? Is this helpful or just informational?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'll remember those titles if I ever write a fantasy novel.

N. R. Williams said...

There good for Historical novels too and any other novel that deals with these types of characters. Thanks for stopping by.

Caledonia Lass said...

I think it is both helpful and informative. In my fantasy, I have those who are close to the king and queen use "M'lord" and "M'lady" a lot. It isn't always acceptable, but it does show that those below the stature of the king and queen are using respect even when they're in a casual atmosphere.
Good post!

N. R. Williams said...

Thank you Cale. I would add, that the peasants would put their own linguistic spin on it. "Mi Lady." for example.

laughingwolf said...

good stuff, nancy, thx... since i do not acknowledge 'royalty' [a staunch son of the republic], i have no clue what's 'appropriate' in addressing them

doubtless, whatever i write, grates on the reader/viewer... 'royalty' is long past its usefulness... ok, except in lit/movies ;) lol

nor will you see me in a country where it's de rigueur to kowtow to em, since i prefer to live a bit longer...

Patricia Stoltey said...

Hi Nancy -- While I was lollygagging over coffee, you already discovered I passed an award on to you today. So I'll just say congratulations and enjoy the fun.

I can see a definite advantage to writing fantasy over historical fiction -- the author can make things up in fantasy and avoid all that learning part. :)

Kay said...

You hit one of my pet peeves ... especially back when Americans "discovered" Georgette Heyer and Regency romances. Very few American writers got the titles and addresses right.

Fortunately, fantasy give you more latitude. You can set your own parameters as long as you're consistent.

N. R. Williams said...

I think a few Englishman might agree with you too, laughing wolf.

Thanks again for the award Pat, and your comments. Alas, even fantasy writers must do some research.

I am so glad that you have the same nerve I do Kay, maybe some editors will stop by and read this.

Thank you everyone for stopping by and posting a comment.