Lots of stories and settings involve aristocracy
and politics. If nothing else, focusing on these things is a good way of making the events of your plot feel important, since the fate of nations is in the balance. However, you sometimes find that authors throw about terms and concepts relating to the aristocracy without having done the research. The end result can be that you get barons who outrank dukes, counts who rule kingdoms, and sometimes even kings who rule republics.
You have to be careful, of course, before criticising (if you criticise at all). Titles can shift greatly in meaning and usage across time and between countries, and so things which appear wrong might actually be okay. And for imaginary countries, of course, there's often a justification: "It just works differently here," is perfectly fine, especially if it's followed by "There are complicated historical reasons which are All There in the Manual
." It's not as though the real world hasn't produced odd situations from time to time. Plus, of course, a large dose of "Who the hell actually cares?
" should be kept handy. Therefore, this shouldn't really be a list of criticisms
so much as a list of oddities: things which are interesting in that they diverge from the expected, but which are not necessarily wrong.
Contrast Just the First Citizen
, where the Big Bad
opts for a deliberately understated title.
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- It is not uncommon for works which mention the British aristocracy to treat "Lord" as a distinct rank, separate from barons and so forth. In fact, it's used as a generic title for all five types of peer (duke, marquess, earl, viscount, and baron), although in practice, some get called Lord more often than others. "Lord" is also a courtesy title for those of Blue Blood who do not, in fact, have titles, such as younger sons of nobles. (Lord Peter Wimsey's "Lord" is such a courtesy title; he's the second son of the Duke of Denver.) Works which merely base their aristocracy on the British lot have more excuse, but the deviation is may well be due to carelessness rather than a deliberate choice.
- Except in Scotland, where "Lord" (strictly, "Lord of Parliament") is actually the equivalent of "Baron" in England, while "Baron-Feudal" is roughly the equivalent of an English "lord of the manor" (an utterly useless non-noble title, which simply allows its holder to refer to himself as "Jock Tamson of Killiecrankie" rather than plain "Jock Tamson." Yes, that's right: it is a "title" with no actual title. The various baron-feudal titles are each tied to ownership of a small pieces of land in Scotland, so by buying the estate one can buy up the title. James Boswell, for example, was technically James Boswell of Auchinleck, since his family owned that feudal estate.)
- "Marquis" is French. If they're British, they should generally be "Marquess" instead. Yes, even though that sounds like it should be for women, like "duchess" and "countess". The actual feminine forms are marquise (French) and marchioness (English).
- You also get counts and earls both placed in some sort of hierarchy with regards to each other (in real life, they're equivalent - the wife of an earl is even a "countess" just like the wife of a count.)
- "Duchy" and "dukedom" are not, according to the strict interpretation, supposed to be the same thing. The former is a territory (like "kingdom"), while the latter is a position and status (like "kingship", sort of).
- Plenty of plots deal with succession to the throne, but the terms "Heir Apparent" and "Heir Presumptive" are thrown around without authors necessarily knowing the difference. (Which is, heirs presumptive are at risk of being displaced. For example, a king's brother might inherit if the king dies childless, but he'd be heir presumptive rather than apparent, because the birth of a child would bump him down the list. By contrast, a king's eldest son is almost always going to be the heir, barring disinheritance.)
- We say the eldest son of the king will almost always be the heir apparent because, of course, there are different forms of succession. Take a sonless king (if he had a son, he would in most cases be heir apparent) with a younger sister, a still-younger brother, and an even-younger brother: let's call them Andrew, Betty, Charles, and David. In the most common systems, succession following King Andrew's death is as follows:
- In agnaticnote primogeniture, Charles is the heir-presumptive, followed by David. However, if Charles has any sons, they come before David. Betty and her descendants are totally cut off from the throne unless things really go to hell.
- In a variant of agnatic primogeniture, the semi-Salic succession, Betty and her line are not cut off, but all of her uncles and cousins in the male line would be eligible before her. So if Andrew, Betty, Charles, and David's grandfather George had a brother (Henry), Henry, his son Isaac, and his son James would come after Charles and David and their descendants but before Betty in the succession. Note that in some variants of the semi-Salic succession, the woman (Betty) herself may not inherit, but her son might.
- In male-preference primogeniture, Charles is the heir-presumptive, followed by David, followed by Betty. However, were Andrew to have a daughter, this new girl Eleanor would automatically become heir-presumptive before Charles. Similarly, if Charles has any daughters, they would bump David and Betty further down the list; and if Charles has any sons, they would in turn bump their sisters down, leading to this line of succession: Eleanor->Charles->Charles's sons->Charles's daughters->David->Betty. Confused enough yet?
- And let us note, if Andrew's wife should gift Eleanor with a younger brother, Fred, he would be placed in line ahead of her, but both of them would still come before her uncles, cousins, and aunt.
- In absolute primogeniture, Betty is the heir-presumptive, followed by Charles, followed by David. Eleanor becomes the heir-apparent, regardless of Fred's presence.
- In agnatic seniority, Charles is the heir-apparent, followed by David. Eleanor and Fred are left out in the cold for the time being, because Charles and David both have stronger claims on the throne than them. Fred might have a shot at the throne after his uncles die; Eleanor, on the other hand, is pretty much out of luck. It gets pretty complex after that.
- Also note: the above only covers rules applying in modern or relatively recent European monarchies. There are other systems, as well. For instance, in many medieval and some early modern monarchies the done thing was that the monarch would give each of his sons part of his realm (the history of France from at least the time of Charlemagne to the time of Hugh Capet was driven in part by the fact that the kings kept having to divide their realms; the Capetians finally found a way around it in the late 10th century). The most headache-worthy, however, are those of the Arab monarchies, in which the heir-apparent is traditionally chosen from among the eligible princes, be they the king's brothers, sons, uncles, cousins, or nephews. This is done in two ways: appointment by the current King (as in Jordan) and election by said eligible princes (as in Saudi Arabia). However it's done, it leads to two surprising conclusions, which might be exploited for entertainment:
- The Crown Prince can be stripped of his title before succeeding to the throne, leading to a high degree of uncertainty. This came very close to happening in Jordan very recently: the appointment of current Jordanian King Abdullah II was not a sure thing, and it was only after a lot of heming and hawing and mulling that King Hussein appointed his eldest son on his deathbed (he had previously considered passing the throne to his brother Hasan and then to his younger son Ali). Abdullah, remembering the annoyance of the situation, has since appointed his son (named, inevitably, Hussein) Crown Prince in 2009 (shortly after his 15th birthday, at which point he was certain that Hussein was neither ill nor a dolt).
- The Crown Prince can be unfit to rule well before he takes the throne. This is already a problem with agnatic seniority, but when you toss politics—and especially family politics—into the mix, things can get downright crazy. From 2005 to 2011, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, was in his eighties and in even poorer health than than the King (who's not in particularly great shape himself), and finally kicked the bucket in November 2011 (before King Abdullah's death), and the next few in line (including Nayef, Crown Prince 2011-2012, and Salman, Crown Prince 2012-present) are all at least in their seventies (the youngest of the current generation, foreign-intelligence chief Muqrin, was born in 1945). Although the nominally-elective system would seem to allow for the election of a younger king, there are two factors preventing this: first, the system is really "agnatic seniority unless we really don't like the idea of the most-senior guy as king", and second, the older princes, besides being senior to everyone else in the House of Saud, are also more powerful—having had more time to build up alliances, find useful evidence for blackmail, buy loyalty, and generally play the game than their younger counterparts. As a result, they have more influence, which they leverage to their personal advantage. At the end of the day, all the guys at the top are ancient, and a Succession Crisis will almost inevitably ensue when the last of the old generation dies.
- This general system does have one advantage, which (besides tradition) is why the countries that have it keep it: it's an excellent way to prevent royal incompetence. When the king is appointed by his predecessor or elected by his family, it generally means that someone has vetted him for the skills necessary to be king, guaranteeing that even if the next king is terrible to his people, he'll be a good administrator—and the family will stay in power.
- Of course, even if the family stays in power, that doesn't mean any particular member will get to enjoy it for very long. A system where a new successor to the monarch can be appointed at any time may also lead to a near-permanent Succession Crisis. This was certainly the state of affairs in many phases of the Ottoman Empire, where cabals led by princes and their mothers would launch intrigues to have the Sultan name their candidate his successor and where a new Sultan often would begin his reign by having his brothers massacred (later: put in "golden cages" on the Princes' Islands). Peter the Great instituted a similar system in Russia, enacting a law that the reigning monarch could appoint whomever he or she wanted as heir to the throne (his own successor was Empress Catherine I - his widow). It is probably not a coincidence that many of the successions that followed were settled by palace revolution and murder.
- "Prince" causes almost as many headaches as "Lord". Depending on the situation it can mean any one of the following (though within fiction the first two are by far the most common):
- A male member of a royal family who is not himself the monarch. (e.g., Prince William)
- The claimant to an abolished throne. (e.g., Jean-Christophe, Prince Napoléon - he would hold the title 'Emperor of the French' if the French Empire still existed)
- The ruler of a principality. (e.g., Prince Albert II of Monaco)
- A high ranking title of aristocracy. (e.g., Otto von Bismarck, made 'Prince of Bismarck' by the German Emperor)
- For further confusion, the word "Duke" may also be used in the latter two senses, to translate from languages that have a term separate from the royal son (e.g. German Fürst, Slavic knyaz/knÃÅ¾e). For example, St. Wenceslas may be interchangeably referred to in English as a Duke of Bohemia or a Prince of Bohemia; he is also the subject of the carol Good King Wenceslas, even though no Czech monarch would hold that title until after more than a hundred years after his death.
- A old fashioned generic term for monarchs. (e.g. Elizabeth I using the title to refer to herself: "The word "must" is not to be used to princes." Likewise, Machiavelli's work "The Prince" is about monarchs in general.)
- And in Animorphs, for some reason, if seems to be synonymous with "Captain", even with Translator Microbes.
- "Empire" itself is a headache. The word descends from "imperium" meaning basically "the power to command" (same word as imperative) and originally pertaining exclusively to military authority. Emperor is of the same root of course. All places ruled by emperors seem to be empires, but not all empires are ruled by emperors. Hence one can speak of "The French Empire" (for a long period with a president and a prime minister) the "Swedish empire" (ruled by a king). And just to make things worse, the term has been used in modern political rhetoric as a metaphor (e.g., the "American Empire"). Note that the "British Empire" did have an emperor or empress, but strictly speaking they were only Emperor of the Empire of India (the reinvented Mughal Empire), not of the entire (rather legally amorphous) entity.
- To make it worse: After Napoleon had crowned himself "Emperor of the French" his realm continued to be officially called the "French Republic" for a few years.
- And before that the French First Republic had sometimes been colloquially referred to as "l'Empire", for instance in the patriotic song Veillons au salut de l'Empire, which eventually became the anthem of the Napoleonic Empire.
- As a subtrope of this it should be noted that most "Emperor" titles in Europe descend from the Romans (either in the form of Imperator or Caesar) this includes the Roman empire of course, their Byzantine successors (and through them the Serbian czars and Bulgarian czars, Ottoman sultans and eventually Russian czars as well) and the western variants (Carolingian emperors > Holy Roman Emperors > Emperors of Austria). The French Empire (that is, the Napoleonic one) was obviously meant to come back to that legacy as well (symbolically if nothing else) which more or less just leaves the German empire (1871-1918) as the sole European empire with no real connection to the Romans (as they never really knit things back to the HRE)
- The Chinese and Japanese (as well as Moghul) titles of "Emperor" (as well as a bunch of others) are not derived from the Romans but European translations of native terms. The Moghul title seems to have been Padishah ("King of Kings") which goes all the way back to the Achaemenids...
- The first Europeans in Japan rendered the Shogun as the Emperor and the Emperor as the Pope. Given the religious significance of the Emperor (whose title actually translates to "Heavenly Sovereign"), the only inaccuracy was that the Pope frequently had more political power in Europe.
- To make things worse, "Padishah" is better translated as "Great King." The difference is important because of a phrase in the Qur'an; Shahanshah ("King of Kings") is called out as a wicked title for a man to claim...but according to the Mughals and Ottomans, Padishah is okay. The difference is Serious Business: Malik al-Muluuk ("King of Kings" in Arabic) is a name/title of God Himself (or rather, associated with his name Malik al-Mulk, "Sovereign of Sovereignty"). Taking that title would be setting yourself equal to Him. That's shirk, which is worse than blasphemy. "Great King" is a less faithful translation, but it doesn't have the theological issues that Shahanshah has.
- There are issues regarding the actual application of titles to characters - for example, do you say "Lord Firstname" or "Lord Surname"? (The fact that some aristocrats are actually referred to as "Lord Placename" certainly doesn't help, either.) To that end, here's a schematic (primarily applicable to British titles, but with some application across Europe):
- For the actual holder of a Peerage:
- If the title attached to a place (e.g. Marquess of Bute, Earl of Chatham, Earl of Grantham), the short form is "Lord Placename" (thus "Lord Bute", "Lord Chatham", "Lord Grantham").
- If the title is attached a surname (e.g. The Earl Russell, Baron Rothschild, Baron Mandelson), the short form is "Lord Surname" (thus "Lord Russell", "Lord Rothschild", "Lord Mandelson"). Note that these tend to be more recent creations!
- Wives of Peers are addressed "Lady" [Husband's title]. Thus Cora Crawley was "Lady Grantham" and Patricia Russell was "Lady Russell".
- Since dukes and marquesses always have subsidiary titles (i.e. titles lower than duke or marquess in additional to the main one), the eldest son (and thus heir apparent) of a duke or marquess is addressed by courtesy by the seniormost of his father's subsidiary titles. Thus the heir apparent to the Duke of Norfolk is called the Earl of Arundel.note
- Younger sons of dukes and marquesses are known by courtesy as Lord [Firstname] [Surname]. Thus Sir Winston Churchill's father Randolph was known as Lord Randolph Churchill, as his father was the Duke of Marlborough. This title shortens to Lord [Firstname]; if you were speaking to him, you would call him Lord Randolph, not Lord Churchill.
- Daughters of dukes, marquesses, and earls are known by courtesy as Lady [Firstname] [Surname]. Thus the second daughter of the Earl of Grantham on Downton Abbey is Lady Edith Crawley. This usage survives marriage if the peer's daughter's husband is of lower rank than her; for instance, from the same show, Edith's younger sister, born Lady Sybil Crawley, became Lady Sybil Branson when she married her Irish chauffeur. (Technically, the same is true of her elder sister Lady Mary Crawley, but that's just weird considering that her husband Matthew is a male-line fourth cousin with the same last name and heir-presumptive to the Earldom besides, despite being a middle-class solicitor from Manchester. Such is television.) This again shortens to Lady [Firstname] (oh, just see Live Action TV below).
- A Baroness is a woman who is of Baronial rank. A woman who is married to a Baron X is not a Baroness and is simply called Lady X (men married to Baronesses are out of luck entirely). Baronets and Baronetesses are a lower rank (a bit like a hereditary knighthood).
- Only true for the United Kingdom. The wife of a German Baron was addressed as a Baroness or Baronin, although it should be noted that in Germany a "Baron" officially is usually a Freiherr, his wife a Freifrau and his daughter a Freiin. What is even more important: In Germany Freiherren (or Barons) belong to the low nobility, while in Britain and France Barons are part of the high nobility or peerage.
- The difference between nobility and Peerage. Nobility was transferred to all descendants in the male line together with any titles (sometimes, especially for higher nobility, there was a special title for the head of the house). In contrast, even the children of a British duke are not Peers and remain legally commoners and are addressed as Lord only by courtesy.
- This is why the sons of still-living Peers were allowed to stand for Parliament and often did so—since they were legally commoners, they were not barred from sitting in the House of Commons.note The heir apparent to a living Peer who distinguished himself in the Commons might then apply for a writ of acceleration, by which he would take one of his father's secondary titles and sit in the Lords as a Peer. The House of Lords Act 1999 abolished the practice of acceleration, but also rendered it meaningless; the hereditary Peers were stripped of their right to sit in the Lords, instead electing some of their number to sit in a mostly-appointed House. In the meantime, although hereditary Peers remained Peers, they won the right to be elected to the House of Commons if they weren't already sitting in the Lords. Several chose to do so, most notably John Sinclair, 3rd Viscount Thurso (who prefers to go by John Thurso and sat on the Lib-Dem frontbench before the coalition meant there weren't enough seats on the government frontbench for him; he heads the Finance and Services Select Committee).
- Again, this is the British system, which is not followed by other countries which still have or which used to have a legally defined nobility. In Germany until 1918, for instance, all the sons of a Count were called Count (Graf) and the male members of the reigning family of a duchy were called Duke (Herzog), so if you had to set them apart, the head of the family was called the "reigning Duke" (regierender Herzog).
- In Ancien Regime France, unlike Britain, Peerage and Nobility were not synonymous, as peerage itself had its own rights and privileges that simple nobility did not.
- Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman has Nicholas Fury refer to "Sir Reed" in an early issue, then eventually reveals that this universe's version of Fantastic Four is led by Sir Richard Reed, who would therefore be called "Sir Richard". 1602: Fantastick Four by Peter David confuses this further (possibly intentionally), by not only using "Sir Reed" but also "Master Richards" - but still giving his full name as "Richard Reed".
- In Star Wars:
- The Emperor has a Royal Guard, not an Imperial Guard.
- The Trade Federation, which doesn't seem to be a monarchy of any sort, has a Viceroy for some reason. (A viceroy is supposed to be a stand-in for a monarch: vice is Latin for "in place of a," and roi is French for "king.")
- The Queen of Naboo is democratically elected. (There have been elective monarchies in the real world, and still are today, but in all the real instances, the monarch is elected by fellow aristocrats rather than by the people - though sometimes the definition of "aristocrat" is so broad that this is a big chunk of the population, as in Poland-Lithuania.) This is said in the Expanded Universe to have been a gradual evolution from a more traditional monarchy. She also serves in office for a fixed time, as opposed to most monarchs who reign until death, deposition or abdication. For all intents and purposes, it's a republic that treats its presidents like monarchs.
- There appears to be no universally agreed-upon style for the Emperor. He is addressed as "Your Majesty" in Revenge of the Sith and "Your Highness" in Return of the Jedi.
- This makes some kind of sense, since he is a self-invented monarch and unless he issued a bulletin of 'My Appropriate Titles' everyone would just have to scramble for appropriately respectful terms, which is probably much more gratifying for old Sidious, since it proves his power over each subject individually as they address him, rather than merely receiving the customary prostrations as a matter of form.
- In certain other EU sources, Palps kept his old Republican style of "Excellency".
- "Highness" comes from Luke, who is ironic and not at all deferential, since he's a believer in a Republic. And also his only other experience with royalty is Leia, who is a Highness.
- Invoked in-universe with Han Solo, who picks up a habit of addressing Leia with outrageous, nonexistent and/or just plain wrong styles.
- The Princess Diaries: The succession to the monarchy seems to work in a very odd way in Genovia, with it apparently going first to the spouse of the previous monarch.
- A Song of Ice and Fire has noticeably fewer royal titles than in real life; George R.R. Martin did this on purpose to simplify things. He has admitted that in retrospect he wishes he had added one or two more titles though, mostly to differentiate the great Lords (sometimes distinguished as "high lords" or "Lords Paramount") and their bannermen. As it is, you have hierarchies such as Lord Locke being sworn to Lord Manderly, who is sworn to Lord Stark, who is sworn to the King.
- The Westerosi hierarchy of feudal titles goes: King, High Lord (or Prince in Dorne), Lord Bannerman, and finally just a Lord.
- Westeros is commonly referred to as the Seven Kingdoms, but this is an anachronism; nowadays they aren't kingdoms and there aren't seven of them. The realm is ruled by one King, who is superordinate to seven "high lords" and one Prince (a courtesy title, as one of the old "kingdoms", Dorne, was really a principality).
- Another In-Universe example of the trope: the Southern lords and knights who come with Stannis to the Wall insist on referring to the sister-in-law of a dead "King" of the wildlings as a "wildling princess" (and hope to use her as a political pawn), no matter how many times it's pointed out to them that the wildlings don't believe in hereditary monarchy and don't see the woman as having any innate authority over them.
- Looks like it could be an example, but has justification: Lois McMaster Bujold's Barrayar "counts". The title is actually an abbreviation for "accountant", and they used to be the Emperor's tax collectors.
- When Counts were first introduced, in the Frankish Empire under Charlemagne, they were high officials appointed to specific tasks by the king or emperor, and their position was not meant to be hereditary (however, that quickly changed). In German this is still very apparent, as not only are there several titles that still incorparate the job someone was appointed to - such as Markgraf (Margrave, a count charge of a border province), Pfalzgraf (Count Palatine, responsible for a royal palace) or Burggraf ("Castle-Count") - but there still continued to exist some non-noble Grafen, for instance in the Deichgrafen, officials in charge of the maintenance of a dyke. The word Count as a matter of fact is derived from the Roman title comes ("companion") used for very high appointed officials of the later Roman Empire.
- In the Honor Harrington series, this gets confusing quick. Later in the series the titles get pretty messy including not only the British noble titles but several more, not to mention knighthoods...
- It causes confusion in universe, as well, once they bring the Graysons into the mix. Grayson is split into Steadings, each Steading lead by a Steadholder, and the Steadholders all answering (more or less) to the Protector. That said, it is established in the later books that each Steadholder is considered equal in noble station to the Queen of Manticore, given the nature of Grayson government and politics.
- In Tamora Pierce's earliest books, she uses both "earl" and "count" in a way that implies they're two different things. "Earl" is just the English name for what continental Europe calls a count (and an earl's wife is still called a countess).
- The Maradonia Saga and Inheritance Cycle both have kings ruling empires.
- In the Kingdom of Gwynedd the peerage comes in three flavors; Dukes, Earls and Barons. The title 'lord' or 'lady' is however generously applied to cadets and descendants of those three orders, apparently indefinitely. 'Lord' Rhys Thuryn for example is the son of a younger son and in our world would be untitled but in Gwynedd he is a lord and so are his sons and his daughters are ladies. The title of Prince or Princess seems similarly transmittable ad infinitem.
- In their notes on The Mote in God's Eye, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle explain that the real titles of nobility used by the Empire of Man centuries in the future are things like "sector commander" or "commissar" but they're employing 19th-century British-style titles as a Translation Convention.
- Played with in The Fifth Elephant, where a character tots up all the titles Vimes has been granted only to have Vimes point out that some of them ought to cancel out the others.
Live Action TV
- In Babylon 5, the Centauri Republic has both an Emperor and a Royal Navy. The Republic was modeled in part on The Roman Empire, which in its early phases insisted that it was still a republic despite the Emperor ruling all.
- The West Wing has Lord John Marbury, who is Earl of Croy, Earl of Sherborne, Marquess of Needham and Dolby, Baronet of Brycey and therefore would correctly be referred to as Lord Needham (being the most senior title). Arguably he may have been a younger son when he started his diplomatic career and unexpectadly inherited but chooses to use to previous styling. Or the writers didn't look things up. As Lord John Marbury is a crazy person, it might simply him bucking tradition for a laugh's sake.
- In the world of JAG (“Washington Holiday”), Romania has restored its monarchy but the King and his heir are living under assassination threat from hardliners who don’t want their country to join NATO.
- Downton Abbey really has Shown Their Work respecting the British aristocracy; it rather helps that series creator Julian Fellowes comes from the upper crust and is himself a Tory life peer. Much of the interesting stuff is used above as examples in "General", but we should note Sir Richard Carlisle's mangling of proper address when speaking to Lord Grantham's sister:
Carlisle: Ah, Lady Painswick.
Rosamund: *stamping her walking stick into the ground with a grandiosity befitting her mother* Lady Rosamund.
- Merlin did get the "heir apparent" thing right,with Arthur being named as such on his birthday.
- Cabin Pressure at one point features a King of Liechtenstein, which is really a principality. Word of God, heading off the inevitable angry letters, pointed out that this was because a particular joke relies on the regal, senior expectations associated with a "king", whereas our expectations of a "prince" would not be so subverted by The Reveal that he's a small child.
- In The Order of the Stick, Vaarsuvius addressed Roy as "Sir Greenhilt", which isn't how a real knighthood would work - but of course, judicious application of "this isn't the real world" a la Miko would take care of that.
- As it's never been indicated that Roy is actually a knight, this is likely just Vaarsuvius' way of showing respect for the team leader.
- Pokémon X and Y has a mix of European and UK style ranks at the Battle Chateau.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender , the ruler of the Fire Nation is called the Fire Lord, while his children are referred to as "prince" and "princess", with an explicit mention of a "crown prince". Additionally, the Earth Kingdom is an apparently unified government with two separate kings in different massively fortified capitals.
- It seemed like Bumi was the King of a heavily fortified independent city-state, while the Earth King himself was the head of the loosely united Earth Kingdom (appears to be a coalition of city-states with a common culture and heritage), with direct control over Ba Sing Se and the region within the great walls.
- It's worth noting that they are referred to as "King Bumi" and "Earth King Kuei", or simply "The Earth King", implying that they are separate ranks.
- According to Nickelodeon official site, the ancient kings of Ba Sing Se unified the Earth Kingdom in a confederation, and by law the current king is known as Earth King and rule over the subordinate kings. By the time of the series, the Earth King is merely a figurehead, and at least some of the subordinate kings and rulers (like Bumi) got their power back.
- Interestingly, when Ozai created the world-ruling rank of "Phoenix King" and turned the Fire Nation over to his daughter, she retained the title of "Fire Lord".
- In The Legend of Korra, Zuko abdicated and his unnamed daughter is "Fire Lord." The Fire Lord's consort has no known title.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Equestria is a kingdom ruled by two princesses. In it are the Kingdom of Canterlot and the Crystal Empire among others, the latter is ruled by a Prince and a Princess instead of an Emperor and Empress, and it was previously ruled by a queen and taken over by a king. About the only place that gets it right is the ancient Kingdom of the Unicorns, which was ruled by a king.
- In Pay Me, Bug!, there are a collection of "Baronies", ruled by "Barons" and "Baronesses", that are actually independent states. The manual states that they originally evolved from "corporate states", so their CEOs-turned-rulers probably just assigned themselves a title that sounded cool. Although, how they all wound up assigning themselves the same title isn't elaborated upon.
- Fun fact: He wants you call him "Sir Geoffrey Lord Archer", but unless he's been knighted he's Lord Archer or Jeffrey Lord Archer. "Sir" is reserved to those who have received a knighthood.
- Native "princesses". You've probably encountered someone who refers to their ancestor as a "Cherokee princess". Such things didn't exist, but marrying a princess of any nationality was a mark of superiority, even if that princess were from people the government was trying to exterminate.