Titles and decorations conferred by His Holiness the Pope, recognition of.
Fd copy despatch to Prime Minister. Australia.
(copy sent to F.O.)
See F.O. letter in ./2. See also 440302 [= HO 45/13725].
MinutesThis correspondence does not directly call for any H.O. action, but it seems desirable to take the opportunity of reconsidering the question of the recognition of Papal titles (which is certain to be raised in a concrete form before long in view of the recent change in the position of the Pope). It will be convenient to consider at the same time whether there should be any change in the practice with regard to foreign titles generally. The present is a very suitable occasion for doing this, as we have now got - what we have never had before - a complete list of all the Royal Licenses for the use of foreign titles known to have been granted. Mr Boyd has succeeded after a good deal of pressure in getting from the heralds a copy of their record of licences up to 1893 when the H.O. notes begin; and a continued list taken from the Heralds' records and our noted, with brief particulars of the recipients of the licenses added where possible, has been prepared. It would probably be convenient to have 20 or 30 copies of the list struck off for use in the H.O. and the Lord Chamberlain's Office - he asked for a list, see 440,302/2.
Please see memo and list of licenses for foreign titles within.
The recent change in the temporal position of the pope makes it necessary to reconsider the existing practice in regard to the recognition of Papal titles of nobility in His Majesty's dominions. Hitherto the rule has been that decorations and titles conferred by the Pope are not recognised in this country: permission to wear the decorations is not given, and Royal Licences for the use of the titles are not granted. The whole question was carefully considered in 1912 on the occasion of an application for permission to use a Papal title of Marquis, and His Majesty gave the following decision:-
"The King quite agrees that the application should be refused, not of course on the Roman Catholic point, but because the Pope not being an independent Sovereign has no power to confer Titles and Orders".
"The Duke of Cumberland or King Manuel of Portugal might just as well claim the right to do so".
It is clear that this position can no longer be maintained, since there is now a Papal State (though a very small one) in existence once more. The Foreign Office have accordingly obtained His Majesty's authority for putting papal decorations, so far as this country is concerned, on the same footing as those granted by other foreign governments and bringing them within the scope of the Foreign Order Regulations *(547,423/3).
[This is what the Foreign Office letter says, but it is understood that in practice it is only proposed to grant "restricted permission", i.e., the decorations would only be allowed to be worn on purely Roman Catholic occasions, not at Courts or Levees.]
Titles, of course, stand on a different footing from decorations. Permission to wear foreign Orders and Medals is given freely in accordance with certain general rules laid down in the Foreign Order Regulations above-mentioned. The Royal licence to use a foreign title is granted very sparingly and as a special mark of His Majesty's favour. The rule laid down by Queen Victoria in 1893 and confirmed by King Edward VII and His present Majesty is as follows:-
"In future the rule is to be that all applications for the Royal licence to use foreign titles In this country are to be refused. There may be special cases of an exceptional kind in which the Queen may be properly advised to relax the rule, but they will probably be of very rare occurrence and can be dealt with as they arise."
I understand unofficially that the Foreign Office do not propose to raise the question of papal titles until they are obliged. But it may at any time be compulsorily raised by an application for a Royal licence coming in, and it seems desirable to consider the question now and try to arrive at some decision as to the principles on which such applications are to be dealt with in future. This is more easily done if the general question is not complicated by considerations of sympathy or otherwise for an individual applicant. Further the Irish Free State Government have shewn symptoms of a desire to deal independently with foreign titles and similar matters within their jurisdiction, and it would probably strengthen our position if we have a clear rule laid down before they seriously raise any questions of this kind. It is clear that it is no longer possible to brush aside all Papal titles as invalid on the ground that the Pope is not a temporal sovereign. At the same time the recent change in the Pope's international status, whatever it may amount to in international law and usage, is very slight in substance. Up to 1870 the Pope really was a temporal sovereign with a certain amount of authority; and until 1860 the States of the Church were a temporal state of substantial extent, not inferior to other Italian States such as the Grand Duchy of Tuscany or the Kingdom of Naples. There was a native territorial nobility not differing in principle from that of other European countries; and there was nothing unreasonable per se in the sovereign of such a country conferring new titles of nobility if he wished. From this point of view the recent change is a mere technicality: the extension of the Pope's sovereignty to an area of a few hundred yards round the Vatican Palace does not make him a temporal sovereign in anything but a legal sense, and does not make Papal titles any less unreal than they were between 1871 and 1928. There is nothing in the recent change therefore to make the recognition of Papal titles any more desirable in itself than it was before. And it has to be borne in mind that in the case of Papal titles there are special objections to the grant of a Royal licence. It has for centuries been a constitutional rule that no British subject may use a title conferred by a foreign monarch or state without the express consent of his own Sovereign. The principle underlying this rule is the obvious one that as long as titles and distinctions are an object of ambition to men, British subjects should not be exposed to the temptation to prefer the interests of foreign countries to those of their own. This principle was laid down with inimitable cogency and point by Queen Elizabeth in the classical case of Thomas Arundell of Wardour, who had been made a Count of the Holy Roman Empire for conspicuous courage in fighting for the Emperor against the Turks. The Queen's words, as given by Camden (History of Elizabeth) are-.-
"The Queen being asked her Opinion hereof, said, "Between Princes and their subjects there is a very strict Tie of Affections. As chast Women ought not to cast their Eyes upon any other then their own Husbands; so neither ought subjects to cast their Eyes upon any other Prince then him whom God hath set over them. I would not have my Sheep branded with another man's Mark; I would not have them follow the Whistle of a strange Shepherd".
Now this principle applies with exceptional force in the case of Papal titles. For the Pope, unlike other monarchs, has two capacities; he is a temporal sovereign and also the spiritual head of a great international Church, and his temporal sovereignty is - and was even before 1870 - subsidiary to his spiritual position. His real subjects are not the inhabitants of the Vatican City, but Roman Catholics all over the world, and his power is not, like that of secular monarchs, limited by the geographical boundaries of his territory but interpenetrates all other temporal states in proportion to the number of Roman Catholics in their populations. It necessarily follows that the opportunities for foreign subjects to earn and the occasion for the Pope to bestow Papal titles are incomparably greater than in the case of any other State. Few British subjects are in a position to render any special service e.g., to the Kings of Italy or Spain, and fewer still are likely to be under any temptation to do so at the expense of their own country. But a conflict of interests between his Church and his country either in domestic or foreign politics is liable to arise at any time for a Roman Catholic in Great Britain.
It may be added that before the Union of Italy in 1860 Papal titles were not in high repute. The papal States, like the other small Italian principalities, did not make matters difficult for foreigners who wished to acquire titles. Possibly things were never as bad at Rome as in some other European oountries. Not so long ago our Ambassador at Lisbon in reporting upon an application for the recognition of a Portuguese title said that at the time of the grant (1895) "titles were indiscriminately distributed to foreigners, generally to the highest bidder". (B21,684/3). And a little earlier His Majesty's Embassador at Lisbon reported in another case:- "The dignity in question was probably conferred in the usual course of things, viz., for personal services rendered or in consideration of the amount of fees which the applicant may be prepared to pay". (B14,637/6).
So doubt the Vatican takes up a stricter attitude with regard to titles now than it did in the early 19th century. But as late as 1901 the Governor of Malta in a confidential report to the Colonial Office expressed himself strongly against the recognition of Papal titles borne by British subjects living in Malta on the ground that "they are modern paper concession of ecclesiastical, rather than temporal, importance. These paper "titles" are easily obtained for apparently small consideration". It has to be remembered that Italy has for centuries past been a country where every land-owning family had or could easily acquire a title, and that people who in England would be merely country squires of quite minor importance are normally counts or marquises in Italy.
["Of all European countries Italy has been most prolific of Counts. Every petty Italian prince fron the Pope downwards created them for love or money ..... while often the feudal title passed with the sale of the estate to which it was attached.....As for the Papal Countships, which are still freely bestowed on those of all nations whom the Holy See wishes to reward, their prestige naturally varies with the religious complexion of the country in which the titles are borne. They are esteemed by the faithful, but have small significance for those outside-. ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA S.V. Count]
Naturally therefore an Italian Government -which is what the Vatican is on its temporal side - is not likely to appreciate the dignity and importance which attaches to the possession of a title of nobility in England or to observe English standards in granting titles for services rendered.
The practical conclusion to be drawn from these considerations appears to be that it is no longer possible as a matter of principle to refuse to recognise Papal titles as such, but that in practice, having regard to the peculiar position of the Papacy as a temporal power, any application for recognition of a Papal title should be scrutinised with particular care and should only be granted if exceptionally strong grounds are shown for doing so in the public interest. This would mean in effect that we should recognise the possibility of granting licences for Papal titles, but practically never do it.
It seems desirable to take this opportunity of reconsidering the practice with regard to the grant of licences for foreign titles generally. It is possible that a re-adjustment of the general practice may make it easier to deal with the difficult Question of Papal titles; and also the time is opportune for a reconsideration because we have now got, what we have not had before, a complete list of all the licences issued. Hitherto we have had in the Home Office a record of the more recent cases (since about 1874), but as the responsibility of recording grants rests officially with the Kings of Arms, we have had no certain knowledge of the earlier grants. Mr. Boyd has now procured a list taken from the records of Garter and Ulster.
[I think the list may be taken as complete so far as English licences are concerned. Ulster's records seem however from the correspondence to be less satisfactory, and there may possibly be other Irish licences in existence beside the one given in the list.]
A copy of it is attached: I have added brief notes (taken as to the recent cases from the Home Office papers, as to the earlier cases from such historical sources as were readily accessible) indicating where possible the reasons for the grant.
A brief examination of the list throws an interesting light on the distribution of the grants. There are first of all half a dozen sporadic grants made in the 17th and 18th centuries on no very clearly defined principle: then during the period of the French wars (1792-1815) there are 12 cases, many of which are for distinguished war service, e. g., Nelson's dukedom of Bronte, and Beresford's Portuguese title. Between Waterloo and Queen Victoria's accession there are five licences, three of which are in respect of titles originally granted for services rendered during the war. There are two grants (Rothschild, 1838, and Goldsmid, 1846), in the earlier part of Queen Victoria's reign, followed by a gap of 28 years during which no licences were given. We know from references In later Home Office papers that various applications were made during these years, but they were all rejected. In 1874 Baron de Worms was given a licence for his Austrian title, and between 1874 and 1893, 9 licences in all were granted. Nine grants in less than 29 years was (relatively) a large number: The titles were all recent creations, some of them of doubtful merit, and not more than one having any apparent relation to services rendered to this country. The Home Office had no principles laid down to guide it in discriminating between such applications, and - as the minutes on 312,651/3 [ = ? ] indicate - felt a good deal of difficulty about undertaking to examine the merits of individual cases. At the same time it was obvious that if applications were to be granted merely on proof of the legitimate existence of a foreign title it would be a strong incentive to British subjects to procure such titles by any available means. And at that time, as has been mentioned above, there were Continental Governments which were quite ready to grant titles for a consideration. Accordingly when a farther application of an obviously undesirable kind came in, Mr. Asquith took Her Majesty's pleasure, and the following rule was laid down: —
"In future the rule is to be that all applications for the Royal licence to use foreign titles in this country are to be refused. There may be special oases of an exceptional kind in which the Queen may be properly advised to relax the rule, hut they will probably be of very rare occurrence and can be dealt with as they arise".
This was confirmed by King Edward and His present Majesty, and is the rule under which the Home Office now works.
It will be observed that an opening is left for exceptions, and the list shows that in the 36 years since the rule was laid down 13 grants have been made. Three of these were new titles in respect of which a licence was given by Queen Victoria personally without any application passing through the Home Office. Of the 10 grants since King Edward's accession, nearly all the titles were of considerable antiquity, and the majority were cases of families of foreign extraction who had possessed the titles before settling in England. There was no doubt therefore of the respectability of the applicants or their titles. At the same time none of them were people of exceptional distinction or outstanding services to the State, and the list rather indicates that before the war at any rate (there have been only two grants since 1912) the Home Office had insensibly drifted into a practice of recommending the grant of His Majesty's licence to any person of respectable position who could prove his right to a really ancient title.
The present position of the matter is not altogether satisfactory. The rule as stated is very uncompromising, but the fact that a number of licences have actually been granted, mostly to people of no great distinction, is well known and naturally tends to throw doubt in the public mind on the real existence of a strict rule. Every time a licence is granted it is, of course, an encouragement to other holders of foreign titles to use it as a precedent for putting forward new applications.
As the figures indicate, the Home Office practice has been considerably tightened up since the war, and applications are now very carefully scrutinised before a favourable recommendation is submitted to His Majesty. But it is very desirable to guard against any tendency to slip back into laxer ways, and we have not at present any really clear and authoritative ruling as to the principles to be followed in admitting exceptions to the general rule that licences should not be given. It is submitted that the time has come when a still stricter rule against the recommendation of applications for the use of foreign titles might be laid down with advantage.
It may be noted that the number of licences effectively in force is not large. The total number of grants recorded in the list is 48: 6 have been revoked as being titles of enemy origin (they may, of course, have to be restored later); [note however that two of these licences (de Forest and von Schroder) were limited to the grantee, and a third (Boxall) could hardly be restored as the holder was given a baronetcy in compensation for the loss of his foreign title.]
many have lapsed owing to the extinction of the line of the grantee; and there do not appear to be more than about 15 (of which one is for the life of the grantee only) still certainly subsisting.
The official recognition of foreign titles held by British subjects is in itself objectionable and should be avoided as much as possible. The grant of a new foreign title to a British subject (whether British-horn or naturalized) is clearly likely to be open to objection on the political ground of divided allegiance; this has been sufficiently discussed above. In this connection it may be remarked that we have records of cases in which immediately on the grant of a title the granting authority made representations (doubtless on the motion of the grantee) in favour of its recognition in this country. In some instances it seems as if the main object of the grant was precisely to secure recognition of the title here, and that such recognition greatly enhanced the original value of the title. Thus Baron Campbell von Laurentz' s original title was Campbell of Craignish, but when objections were raised to the recognition of this title, the Duke of Saxe Coburg obligingly altered the title to Campbell von Laurentz.
This same case illustrates another difficulty which may be caused by the recognition of foreign titles granted to British subjects, viz., the liability of confusion with genuine British titles. Baron Campbell belonged to a younger branch of the Scottish family of Campbell of Craignish, and when he applied for a Royal licence for the title of Campbell of Craignish the Home Office received objections to the grant from Lord Strathearn and Campbell, on the ground that the title clashed with his peerage titles, from the senior branch of the Campbells of Craignish, and from the actual owner of the lands of Craignish.
But even when the title is an old one which has been in the family for many generations its retention in this country is not necessarily desirable. It appears to be reasonable, generally speaking, that if a family of foreign nobility settles in England they should renounce their title and be content to stand on the same footing as ordinary untitled British citizens unless and until one of them earns a British title by services to his adopted country. They can hardly expect to have it both ways - to enjoy the advantage of settling in Britain and to retain the titles of nobility which they possessed in their original country. And obviously there can be no question of present merit about a hereditary title dating back for generations before the family was naturalized in Great Britain.
There are inherent disadvantages and difficulties in the official recognition of foreign titles, however ancient and respectable. As long as there is a British peerage with political rights and a social status of its own, the introduction into this country of officially recognised foreign titles, in most cases following a different system of descent, is bound to cause misunderstanding and confusion. For instance it is well established (see Garter's report in B6824/2 [ = HO 45/10437/B6824], quoting an opinion of a former Garter in 1836) that the grant of a Royal licence confers no social precedence on the holder of a foreign title; it merely gives his the right to call himself and be called Count or Marquis.
["I am not aware that any other advantage (i.e., beyond the use of the title) would accrue to either of these individuals in right of their possession of the titles in question, since according to our established tables of precedency there is no relative rank between a foreign nobleman and a nobleman of this realm or any place or precedence in such tables for a person possessing foreign honours".]
But it is certain that this is not generally understood, and that the holders of Royal licences and their families expect to be treated socially like British peers of the corresponding grade of nobility. It say perhaps be added that the correspondence which the Home Office has had with some recipients of Royal licences indicates that this mark of Royal favour sometimes produces or fosters a spirit of snobbishness and self-importance which in not at all deserving of encouragement.
There is further a practical difficulty to be considered. The devolution of foreign titles is in many cases different from and much wider than the practice of the British peerage. It is now usual in granting Royal licences to insert limitations which confine the right to use the title to the head of the family for the time being, so as to correspond with our practice and to prevent it from being assumed by all the children or by all the descendants in the male line of the grantee. But there are some licences in existence with no such limitations, in which ease the right to use the title may" ramify very widely. and however strictly the licence may be limited, there is always the difficulty that we have no official machinery for verifying the descent of the title or the right of any given claimant to use it. Then the Royal licence has been in force for a few generations it is obvious that the right to use the title might be asserted by some one who is either (a) not legitimately descended from the licensee or otherwise not within the limits of the original grant of the title, or (b) outside the special limitations of the licence; and neither the Court officials nor the Home Office nor any other authority would be in a position to examine and decide upon his claim. Suppose, for example, some one came forward and claimed to be descended from one of the 17th century licensees and therefore entitled to be received at Court as a Count. The Lord Chamberlain would be in a very difficult position between the risk of admitting an unfounded or at least unproved claim on the one hand and the risk of refusing to recognise a right solemnly conferred by the Sovereign on the other.
[The very peculiar descent of the duchy of Bronte - see the particulars in the attached list of licences - illustrates the difficulties that may arise in dealing -with claims to foreign titles.]
If licences to use foreign titles are granted it is logically a necessary corollary that some system of recording successions and deciding on disputed claims should be instituted to guard against abuses. This does not seem to be practicable as things are at present. If the English Kings of Arms were salaried civil servants, like Lyon and Ulster, it might be possible to make them responsible for recording the succession to foreign titles for which a licence had been granted; but with the existing constitution of the College of Arms such an arrangement would not be satisfactory either to the holders of licences, who would necessarily have to pay fees at every stage, or to the Home Office and Court officials, who would not feel complete confidence in the findings of the Kings of Arms on disputed points.
Having regard to the foregoing points, it is submitted for consideration that it would be in the public interest and would not go counter to any legitimate claims of individuals if it were definitely decided and the decision made public that in future Royal licences for the use of a foreign title would not be granted in any circumstances except in cases where the title had been conferred on the applicant himself (not his ancestor) as a reward for public services of the highest distinction (i.e., such cases as Wellington and Nelson's foreign titles). Perhaps a convenient formula for public use in defining the exception would be to say that exceptions would only be made in cases where the applicant had himself rendered services to this country as least equivalent to those in respect of which peerages for public service are ordinarily given. It would, of course, always be possible for the Sovereign in Virtue of his prerogative to make a special exception for a case in which he was personally interested (as was done, e.g., in the case of Baron Boxall and the Marquis d'Hautpoul), but the possibility of such exceptions need not be publicly mentioned. In any event such cases would probably be very rare.
22nd May, 1930.
Dear Lord Stamfordham.
You may remember that in conversation some time ago I told you that we were preparing a Memorandum on the use of foreign titles in this country, but it has taken some time as the Home Office records prior to 1893 were somewhat sketchy. We have now however compiled what we hope is en absolutely complete list of every Royal licence which has ever been issued for the use of a foreign title in this country. The earliest grant goes back to the time of Charles I and I am sure you will find Mr. Eagleston's Memorandum very interesting; also the notes in regard to the individual names on the list.
The minutes on the paper explain themselves and you will see that the Home Secretary was disposed to suggest for The King's consideration that His Majesty should lay down a definite rule that no further licences at all should be granted and that some limitation should be put to existing licences. Before however submitting the question to The King Mr. Clynes thought it right to acquaint both the Foreign Office and the Dominions Office with what he had in mind; the former Department saw no objection but the Dominions Office pointed out that if a Dominion Government, for example that of the Irish Free State, claimed to advise The King to grant a licence to one of its people and declined to accept as binding a previous decision taken on the advice of an English Minister a difficult situation would arise which would need most careful consideration. Particularly in view of the position of the Irish Free State in relation to the Vatican Mr. Clynes is inclined to agree with the suggestion of the Dominions Office that it would be better not to raise at this stage any question with regard to the recognition of foreign titles outside the United Kingdom, He would therefore now limit his proposal as regards requests for new licences, to asking The King to give a direction to the Secretary of State for the Home Department that no further applications from British subjects for a Royal licence to use a foreign title in this country should be submitted to His Majesty by Bis Ministers here, and that all such requests should be declined at once.
As regards the Question of putting some limit to licences now in force the Home Secretary would be glad to know whether His Majesty would approve in principle of stops being taken as and when opportunity offers to secure some limitation of the devolution of existing licences. Yours very truly,
(Signed) H. R. BOYD
P.S. We are going to have some copies of the annotated list of cases made for reference, and we will of course send you some.
The Lord Stamfordham,
G.C.B., G.C.I.E., G.C.V.O
26th. May, 1930.
I have submitted to the King your letter of the 22nd. instant and the important memorandum and its enclosures on the use of foreign titles in this country. The King approves of the Home Secretary's submission that a definite rule should be laid down that no further licences are to be granted. This will mean that any application that may be received in the future will be rejected as a matter of course and without the necessity of making a submission to the Sovereign. His Majesty further approves that some alteration should be made to existing licences in accordance with the
second paragraph of the Home Office minute.
Since speaking to you on the subject, I recognise that the memorandum in the file is Mr. Eagleston's original copy and signed by him. Will you therefore in due course kindly let me have a printed copy of the memorandum and also a copy of the annotated list of cases.
Yours very truly,
H.R. Boyd Esq., C.V.O., Home Office.
HM The King (Private Secy)
Royal Licenses for the use of Foreign Titles
Gives HM's views on H.O. suggestions
MINUTES.The King's directions are :-
(1) that the use of foreign titles by British Subjects is abolished and that no further recommendations for Royal Licences are to be submitted to H.M.
(2) in the case of the 13 existing holders of Royal Licences the use of the title is to continue during the lives of the present holders, their heirs, and their heir's heir, provided such heir's heir is now in existence. Any heir's heir who may be born subsequent to some definite date to be fixed, will not be entitled to use a foreign title.
It is now for H.O. to communicate with the 13 existing holders with a view to obtaining their consent to the new ruling, as was done in the case of the Enemy Titles which were revoked in 1920.
? Now to "E" Division for action accordingly.
Sir M Delevingne
Warrant of April 27, 1932 on Foreign Titles
GEORGE THE FIFTH, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas KING, Defender of the Faith, To Our Right Trusty and Right Entirely beloved Cousin Bernard Marmaduke, Duke of Norfolk, Earl Marshal and Our Hereditary Marshal of England,
WHEREAS the persons named in the first column of the Schedule hereunto annexed are severally possessed of the foreign dignities and titles of nobility set forth in the second and third columns respectively of the said Schedule:
AND WHEREAS by Warrants under the Royal Sign Manual respectively bearing date as set forth in the fourth column of the said Schedule the said persons have received licence and authority to bear and use the said foreign titles of nobility in this country:
AND WHEREAS in Our opinion it is expedient that the use in this country of foreign titles of nobility should in due course be discontinued and that the said Warrants should be revoked subject to the exceptions hereinafter set forth:
NOW THEREFORE We do by these presents revoke and determine the Warrants referred to in the fourth column of the said Schedule:
PROVIDED always that notwithstanding the revocation of the said Warrants
AND for so doing this shall be your Warrant.
GIVEN at Our Court at WINDSOR, the TWENTY-SEVENTH day of APRIL, One Thousand nine hundred and thirty two In the Twenty-second year of Our Reign.
By His Majesty's Command.
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