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Maree’s musings 

May 10, 2021 May 2021, Regular Features No Comments


It’s been a few weeks now since Prince Philip, husband of the Queen, and Duke of Edinburgh, died. As we know, he was nearly100, so was maybe looking forward to that telegram. What a great innings though, They’d been together for almost ever, it seems. I recalled another of his titles was ‘consort’. This doesn’t sound as fine, despite being used for Victoria’s beloved Albert, as nowadays it has other not so nice meanings. It originally derived from the Latin word ‘consors’ which means destiny sharer. Much better!

Generally I don’t give much thought to the monarchy, with its total sovereignty of one. Kings and Queens, in a word. They’re the head of state, and also supreme governor of the Church of England. Both big jobs, so useful to have an off-sider to help. The next in line must be an heir to the throne too: until 2011, this would be the eldest son. Now a princess, if the eldest, is deemed OK as well. Regents can be appointed if the monarch is a minor or incapable of doing the job, and believe it or not, they can even be female too! That’s something, at least.

Sir David Attenborough, commenting on the funeral, said “we need someone to look up to.” So maybe that’s what it’s all about, although for us lesser mortals, having a title is more a way of identifying one’s place in society. For example, up until 2005 [2005!], a guy and a gal who wanted to marry had the titles ‘bachelor and spinster’ alongside their name on the licence. Long ago unmarried women were called spinsters because they commonly ended up with lower status and poorly paid jobs such as spinning. Bachelors seem even today to be entitled to much more fun although in the past they were teased and worse, if they were still single by 30. German lads, I learned, were made to sweep the Town Hall steps until kissed by a ‘virgin’. Today ‘single’ replaces both, thank goodness.

Esquire is an unofficial title, having no precise significance, so doesn’t mean anything. Many years ago I recall coming across a studio photograph of my dad: it was titled ‘R. N. Porter Esquire’. This term doesn’t even feature on the peerage ranking system which includes dukes, earls, counts, lords, barons etc, etc. Some of the titles involve work but most don’t. The rest of us are just ‘hoi polloi’ – lesser mortals! I don’t actually care. I was my dad’s ‘little princess’ so it didn’t matter. By the way, the photo was a profile shot. I did inherit his profile, much to my chagrin!

Like my readers, I guess, the vast majority of people I know have no title whatsoever, but it’s not a biggie. For me, despite our position or rank, should we happen to have one – and especially these days – our gender, we’re all entitled to respect so that’s what counts in the end. 

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