may be dead, but many still hanker after titles such as Lord, Lady,
Earl or Countess, and if there is a need, there is a market. Websites
promise such titles from $1 000 upwards, some reaching over $50
000. The benefits of such titles, according to the websites that
flog them, include receiving upgrades when you travel, an enhanced
profile and booming business as people clamber to work with and
serve your esteemed royal self. That said, FakeTitles.com, run by
Richard, the 7th Earl of Bradford, whose mission is to uncover fake
titles, since his is real, points out that such offers are fraudulent
and, frankly, just not cricket. A genuine title is passed down through
generations of privilege and, quiet frankly, sir, cannot be bought.
those of you interested, nonetheless, I have discovered three methods
of attaining a title. The first is to buy the title Lord of
the Manor. This is actually not a title, but a form of landownership.
Boxer Chris Eubank, for example, bought the title Lord of the Manor
of Brighton for a paltry £45 000. For his investment, he can
refer to himself as Lord of the Manor of Brighton, although not
Lord Eubank. Semantics aside, he is now entitled to 4 000 herring,
three cows and a slave each year. His title, however, does not give
him the right of the lord of an estate to deflower its virgins.
you can buy a square foot of Scottish earth, name it what you like,
and then refer to yourself as Laird (or Lord) of your said piece
of land. FakeTitles.com claims that the average cost of a square
foot of land being sold in this way on the Internet is $67, which
seems reasonable to me. But the site warns that there are 43 560
square feet to the acre, which means that Internet scammers are
making $2 918 520 per acre for largely useless land.
finally, the most controversial way to get a title is to make a
large donation or loan to Tony Blairs Labour Party. The British
press is riddled with claims that Labour backers have allegedly
been nominated by Labour officials for positions in the House of
Lords. So nepotism is thriving in British politics as it is elsewhere,
but what fascinates me is the lengths to which people will go to
be associated with the monarchy, a system which has long been defunct.
This demonstrates how ingrained in global consciousness the monarchy
has become. Most people who fall for the fake-title Internet scams
are American. Many seek to reconnect with their forefathers; others,
I suspect, are fascinated with the monarchy and want a piece of
the action. The British monarchy still has an allure for South Africans
too; many can tell you all the details of the royal family. Royal
trips to Canada, Kenya and Australia still draw huge crowds.
those from previous British colonies, not to mention the British
public, who continue to fund the royals lavish lifestyles
through their taxes, simply fixated with their past oppressors,
or is there something comforting in the idea of being associated
with tradition, no matter how exploitative? As a Canadian friend
put it to me, we are interested in the British royals because
it tells us where we come from. Either way, what is worrying
about the frivolous debate over fake titles is that it suggests
that titles such as Lord still carry power. One way to change this
is reform, or to just scrap the monarchy and its legacy altogether.
The other is to democratise and popularise such titles, making them
meaningless. But, if the Internet sharks scare you and you are not
loaded with cash, the easiest option is to officially change your
name. Why not try Lord Vader, or better still become a musician
of the ilk of Duke Ellington, or just call yourself Prince?
Hamber writes the column "Look South": an analysis
of trends in global political, social and cultural life and its
relevance to South Africa on Polity, see http://www.polity.co.za/pol/opinion/brandon/.
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