The British Honours Order is a noble establishment dating back centuries and can be confusing to understand when you first start to learn about it. One of the most common questions we get asked by anyone researching how to receive a Knighthood is: What is the difference between a Lord and a Sir?
According to Mirriam-Webster.com, the answer is quite simple: Sir is used to address a man who has the rank of a baronet or a knight; the higher nobles are referred to as Lords. But what does this actually mean? What is a baronet or a knight, or a higher noble?
What Does The Term Baronet Mean?
A baronet is higher than a knight but lower than a baron. Barons are addressed as Lord, while baronets are addressed as Sir. The term baronet was first created by King James I of England in May 1611. These days, one cannot be awarded the title of Baronet, and there are only 1000 left in the UK. Any person wishing to be recognised as a Baronet must prove their succession to the relevant dignity to the satisfaction of the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice.
What Is A Knight, And How Do You Get A Knighthood?
According to Wikipedia, “A knight is a person granted an honorary title of knighthood by a head of state (including the Pope) or representative for service to the monarch, the church or the country, especially in a military capacity.” Knighthood is a title bestowed upon an individual (usually a man) by the Queen of England for services to their country or outstanding personal achievement. Damehood is a title bestowed upon a woman by the Queen of England and is the female equivalent of a Knighthood.
The title Sir is used to address a man who has been awarded a knighthood. The monarch may choose to offer a knighthood in recognition of a British citizen’s outstanding personal achievement, public service, or charitable work. The Cabinet Office decides on the recipients of knighthoods twice a year, on New Year’s Day and The King’s official birthday in June.
Examples of British citizens awarded knighthoods for personal achievements include the actor Sir David Jason, and musicians Sir Elton John and Sir Paul McCartney. It is commonly believed that a knighthood is offered as thanks and recognition for favourable representation of the United Kingdom.
Are You A Sir With An OBE?
We are often asked the question, “Is an OBE a Sir?” or “Is a CBE a Sir?” The answer is not straightforward. A man who has been given a knighthood can put “Sir” in front of their name, rather than “Mr.”. Examples of British citizens awarded knighthoods for personal achievements include the actor Sir David Jason, and musicians Sir Elton John and Sir Paul McCartney. However, there are different ranks of knighthood.
Only the top two ranks of knighthood, GBE and KBE, are eligible to use the title Sir or Dame. However, individuals who are awarded a CBE, OBE, or MBE may be awarded an additional higher rank at a later date, which enables them to use the title Sir.
Is A Lord Higher Than A Sir?
In short, yes, a Lord is higher than a Sir. Let’s explore why this is. Any man who has the rank of Duke, Marquess, Earl/Count, Viscount, and Baron can be addressed as Lord. Any woman with the rank of Marchioness, Countess, Viscountess, Duchess, or Baroness.
Traditionally, these ranks were obtained through land ownership. These days, the most common ways to become a Lord or Lady are to either inherit the title through parentage or through marriage. However, it is important to note that purchasing a piece of land from the current owner does not guarantee the bestowal of a noble title. The title has to be recognised and conferred by the British monarchy or the British honours system to become a legitimate title.
In conclusion, the British Honours Order is a distinguished institution that has been in place for centuries, recognising individuals for their services, achievements and contributions to society. A person with a knighthood is referred to as Sir, while higher nobles are referred to as Lords. A baronet is higher than a knight but lower than a baron. Knights and dames are titles bestowed upon individuals (usually men and women, respectively) by the Queen of England, while lordships are traditionally obtained through land ownership, inheritance, or marriage.
It is important to note that titles of nobility do not have any official political, legal, or social status in Britain today. Nonetheless, the honours system remains an integral part of British culture and serves as a way to recognise and celebrate the achievements of individuals who have made significant contributions to society, whether through their work, charitable efforts, or community service.