How to Address Former Nobility
Nobility from Countries
That are No Longer Monarchies

How to Address Nobility When there is No King?

I work in the advancement office at a College, and I travel to meet with alumni and parents all over the country and in Europe. I am hoping to secure a meeting in Austria with two graduates – a couple – who are a count and countess. I would like to send them a note, but I am unclear  how to address them. I do not wish to be too formal, but I certainly do not want to be disrespectful. I see in your book royal forms … but they are British. Can I use those?
—————– RVK

Dear RVK, How to Address Former Nobility
Interesting question: There is an official answer … and a social answer. #2 applies to you.

—–#1) Officially
—–—–In countries like Republic of Austria which is not a monarchy, having a noble title –  being descendant of an aristocratic family – has no legal privileges. Many such families now indicate their pride of their lineage in their family name (e.g., having the particle ‘de’ [French for of/from] or the the prefix ‘van’  (Dutch).  So at official government events they are addressed as Mr./Ms./Mrs./etc. (Name) … or whatever honorifics they are entitled to … Dr., Lieutenant, Professor …. etc. just like any other citizen.

—–#2) Socially
—–—–Where the royal house is no longer in power – such titles are a matter of pride in one’s heritage and personal marks of status. The titles are used at the preference of the bearer. Some want to be addressed with their titles — others don’t — some do but only in certain circumstances. If you don’t know, it might be a good idea to start addressing them by title … and if they don’t like it they will tell you. If you know they like to be addressed as a count and countess … when the communication is in English, it is acceptable to use the forms of address of the corresponding British nobility (Earl and Countess).  As you mention all these are in my book in detail, and on this site in an abbreviated form.

— Robert Hickey   How to Address Former Nobility


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

How to Address a French Aristocrat?

I saw in The New York Times a reference to Jeane de France, Duc de Vendome of the French Royal Dynasty. In your book I don’t see a section on French Royalty. What form would one use for this gentleman?
————— Bill Taylor How to Address Former Nobility

Dear Mr. Taylor:
In my book I cover forms of address for current royalty and nobility, but not former royalty or nobility.

In the United Kingdom there is a royal family — so the nobles — dukes, marquesses, earls, viscounts, barons, etc. — are still officially addressed by their noble titles. Same is true in Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Japan and other countries where the head of state is a hereditary monarch. I provide forms for all these. But my book was already 576 pages, and I decided it made no sense to include “how to address the Czar” or “how to address the Holy Roman Emperor”, when those offices no longer exist.

In republics — such as the French Republic — nobility no longer officially exists. Jean de France is the Duc of Vendome but the official privileges ceased when nobility was abolished with the French Revolution.

Today friends and social acquaintances address him as a duc as a courtesy to honor him and his heritage.

In an official situation he would be a Mr. de France (in English).

That said, if you want to address him socially and the language of the situation is English, address him as a duc — using the form I provide for a British duke, It’s widely accepted to use British forms when socially addressing all types of nobles in English.

— Robert Hickey

Forms of Address: How a conversation begins can have a huge impact on how the conversation - even the entire relationship - develops.

How to Address Russian Aristocracy?

I hold a number of inherited noble titles, the highest of which being the title of Count of the Russian Empire. These titles are still internationally recognised even though The Russian Empire is no longer in existence.

I am a UK citizen, born in the UK, and lived here for most of my life. I actively use my title and have had it recognised in a number of different formats by UK government agency’s, however there is always some confusion as to the manner in which I should be addressed within the UK. My primary title carries the styling of His Illustrious Highness (HILLH) but as I am sure you can guess this can cause some confusion.

I was wondering if there is any formal style and manner of address for nobles within the UK who hold foreign titles, such as Count. Ideally anything specifically related to The Russian Empire.

If you do know of any such styling then I would be very grateful to hear from you.

——————— HILLH the Count Nicholas Chernoff, BSc (Hons), FdSce

Dear Sir:
The point of view of this site – and my book – is the current, official use of names, titles and forms of address.  So if a title is from a current hierarchy, I’d cover it.  If it’s from a hierarchy that no longer exists – I don’t include it.

That doesn’t mean the latter group isn’t important and fascinating. They are. But I just don’t keep track of them.

Here are some reactions:

—-#1) If you are a Count, then using the British forms of address for a Earl make sense. People in the U.K. will be familiar with those. His Illustrious Highness isn’t a courtesy title used in the British nobility.  From my experience, rightly or wrongly, everyone uses the British forms when addressing nobility from all over the world when the common language is English.

—-#2) Guests are addressed in the style appropriate for their participation. At a meeting of Russian aristocracy the Russian titles are pertinent. At your day job –– they likely are not. We have more than one persona, and each has a different name. We just need to present the correct version for the situation.  You are probably at different times:
—-—-Mr. Chernoff
——–HILLH the Count …..

Direct others how they should address you and generally they will follow your preference.  Just keep it at the right level of formality to match the moment.

— Robert

See these Related Posts:
—-Knight/Dame—-Noble Titles: Social Use Only


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

When Should You Use the Forms on this Page?

You can use these forms of address for any mode of communication: addressing a letter, invitation, card or Email. (If there are differences between the official and social forms of address, I will have mentioned the different forms.)  The form noted in the salutation is the same form you say when you say their name in conversation or when you greet them.
___What I don’t cover on this site are many things I do cover in my book: all the rules of forms of address, about names, international titles, precedence, complimentary closes, details on invitations, place cards, all sorts of introductions, etc. I hope you’ll get a copy of the book if you’d like the further detail.

Not Finding Your Answer?

—-#1)  At right on desktops, at the bottom of every page on tablets and phones, is a list of all the offices, officials & topics covered on the site.

—-#2)  If you don’t see the official you seek included or your question answered send me an e-mail. I am pretty fast at sending a reply: usually the next day or so (unless I am traveling.)  Note: I don’t have mailing or Email addresses for any of the officials and I don’t keep track of offices that exist only in history books.

—-#3)  If I think your question is of interest to others, Sometimes I post the question  – but always change all the specifics.

— Robert Hickey 


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”