Order of Precedence in England and Wales

Contents

  • Introduction
  • Historical overview
  • General principles
  • How precedence is defined
  • General and special orders of precedence
  • Tables of precedence
  • Disputes over precedence
  • Summary of rules
  • Personal precedence
  • Official precedence
  • Women
  • Annotated table of precedence for men
  • Documents
  • The Lord Chamberlain's Order, 1520 (as amended 1595)
  • Squibb's Table of Precedence, 1981
  • Men
  • Women
  • Introduction

    This page is essentially based on D. G. Squibb, Order of Precedence in England and Wales. 1981: Oxford, Clarendon Press. See also the essay on Precedence by Charles Mosley, in the 106th ed. of Burke's Peerage and Baronetage.

    Precedence dictates the order in which men and women arrive, leave, march, are seated, announced or greeted in official functions, ceremonies, receptions, dinners, documents.  Certain categories of people are assigned precedence, either by reason of their person (who they are: members of the royal family, peers, knights) or what office they hold (officers of state, judges).  Most people are not ranked in any way.  There is a "general" order of precedence, and there are special orders for particular occasions.

    Most members of the royal family have a place in the order of precedence.  However, that place is not based on the order of succession to the throne.  Thus, the duke of Edinburgh precedes his son the prince of Wales (except in Parliament), and the brothers of the prince of Wales precede his sons.

    The rules governing precedence are based on custom (usually codified or embodied in documents emanating from the king or the Earl Marshal) and on statutes.

    Historical Overview

    Precedence existed in pre-Conquest times: an Anglo-Saxon document states that "in the laws of the English, people and law went by ranks."  The Conquest presumably resulted in the introduction of precedence as it was practiced at the court of Normandy, just as titles and offices were imported by the victors.

    Evidence on precedence before 1399 comes from witness lists in diplomas and charters, as (starting around 1100) from salutations in royal charters, and later in statutes.  It appears that the order was roughly as follows: the king and his family (sons), archbishops, bishops, abbots, priors, earls, barons, justices, sheriffs, reeves and bailiffs.  There does not seem to have been much consistency in the ranking of persons within categories, however.

    The oldest written order of precedence dates from 1399, and was probably drawn for the coronation of Henry IV.  Other important documents date from 1429, 1466-7, 1487, and 1520.  These documents are either anonymous (1399), or issued by the Constable of England (1429, 1466-7), High Steward (1487), Lord Chamberlain (1520).  They represent the state of law and custom as perceived at the time, rather than prescriptive or legislative dispositions.  However, the Order of 1520 was held in high regard, and was adopted by the commissioners for executing the office of Earl Marshal in 1595 when they were asked by Elizabeth I to inquire into place and precedence.  "It can be fairly described as the basis of the modern system of precedence, which has been produced by making legislative additions to it" (p. 17).

     From the time of the Conquest, lay precedence originated in the King as fount of honor, while ecclesiastical precedence was governed by canon law, the law of the Church.  In principle, therefore, there were separate orders of precedence for lay and clerics.  On some occasions, attempts were made to meld the two, but the results were not consistent from one time to the next.  The Reformation brought about a major change in this respect, placing the King as the sole source of precedence both for lay and clerics.  This was done by the House of Lords Precedence Act (1539), which, although deciding only the seats to be occupied in Parliament, and keeping lay and clerics separate, nevertheless affirmed a non-papal source of precedence for ecclesiastics.

    Then, in 1595, Elizabeth I decided to solve some difficulties of precedence by commissioning the Lord High Treasurer, the Lord High Admiral and the Lord Chamberlain to inquire into the matter, calling on heralds and researching ancient documents.  The commissioners ended up copying the Order of 1520, with a minor amendment, and presented it in the form of an ordinance dated 16 Jan 1595.  "The Commissioners' ordinance is the basis of the present law of precedence" (p. 25).  The present system results from successive additions and modifications of the ordinance of 1595, with attribution of precedence always defined in relation to existing precedence.

    General principles

    How Precedence is defined

    The House of Lords Precedence Act 1539 and the Ordinance of 1595, both of which were to a large extent codifying current practice, form the canvass of the order of precedence.  Everyone's place in the order of precedence is defined by reference to this initial list.

    Here is the order of precedence defined by the Ordinance of 1595 (the original text is below). Ranks between parentheses are not actually cited in the Ordinance.
     
    Men Women
    dukes by creation duchesses
    marquesses by creation marquesses
    dukes' eldest sons wives of dukes' eldest sons
    daughters of dukes
    earls by creation countesses
    marquesses' eldest sons wives of marquesses' eldest sons
    daughters of marquesses
    dukes' younger sons wives of dukes' younger sons
    viscounts by creation viscountesses
    earls' eldest sons wives of earls' eldest sons
    daughters of earls
    barons by creation baronesses
    marquesses' younger sons wives of marquesses' younger sons
    viscounts' eldest sons wives of viscounts' eldest sons
    daughters of viscounts
    earls' younger sons wives of earls' younger sons
    barons' eldest sons (wives of barons' eldest sons)
    daughters of barons
    knights banneret wives of knights banneret
    viscounts' younger sons wives of viscounts' younger sons
    barons' younger sons
    knights bachelor wives of knights bachelor
    (knights' eldest sons) (wives of knights' eldest sons)
    (knights' younger sons) (wives of knights' younger sons)

    The logic of the order is apparent:

    • The basic structure is the ranking of peers and knights:
      dukes, marquesses, earls, viscounts, barons, knights banneret, knights bachelor.
    • Eldest sons of rank N go right after rank N-1.
    • Younger sons of rank N go right after eldest sons of rank N-1.
    • Wives mirror the rankings of their husbands.
    • Daughters of rank N are placed right after wives of eldest sons of rank N.
    The exception is that barons' eldest sons rank above knights banneret (when they should rank below by this algorithm).

    Over time, various categories were inserted at various points in this ordering. Knights of the Garter, Thistle, St. Patrick come right after eldest sons of barons, thus taking the place of the obsolete knights banneret. Baronets rank a little lower, after younger sons of barons, but their eldest sons come after knights bachelor, and their younger sons after eldest sons of knights, while knights grand cross and knights commanders of various orders come right after baronets. Other grades of modern orders (RVO, OBE, etc) have been inserted in various places by the statutes of those orders.

    General and special orders of precedence

    The general order of precedence is the one that applies under most circumstances.  There are other special orders, such as during ceremonies of the Order of the Garter (knights are ranked by investiture irrespective of peerage), or in certain judiciary ceremonies.  There are local orders of precedence in which local officials are assigned particular rank.

    In Parliament (at least before the House of Lords Act 1999), precedence was determined by the Roll of Parliament, drawn each year until 1966 by Garter King of Arms, and since then by the Clerk of Parliament with Garter's advice.  The Roll is printed at the head of the Parliamentary Debates (Hansard) for each session.  The Roll lists all members of the House of Lords (members of the House of Commons have no precedence, although their Speaker does since 1919).  The House of Lords Precedence Act 1539 is the basis for that roll, and some provisions of the act make clear that the order in Parliament is not the same as the order outside.  Thus, order on the Roll is not necessarily conclusive evidence about order outside Parliament.

    For instance, the duke of Edinburgh was always ranked as a duke of the United Kingdom created in 1948, and thus ranked 32 on the roll of 1998, while in the general order of precedence he immediately follows the Queen and precedes his son.  That is because his precedence assigned by warrant of 1952 is "unless provided otherwise by Act of Parliament".   Interestingly, the duke of Windsor ranked 3d after Gloucester and Kent from 1937 to 1941, but became 2d before Kent after the death of the first duke of Kent in 1942.  He was thus ranked after his brothers among sovereign's brothers, but came before a sovereign's nephew.

    The Great Officers of State do not have the same rank in and out of Parliament.  In Parliament, their office confers upon them precedence before the other peers of their own rank, but not before peers of higher rank.  Outside Parliament, their place does not depend on their peerage.

    Royal dukes who are not grandsons of sovereigns are ranked among ordinary dukes in Parliament (see "HRH the duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale" ranked 25th between the duke of Northumberland and the duke of Wellington in the Roll of Parliament of 1918, or the 2nd duke of Connaught who ranked 28th in 1942 when his grandfather had ranked 4th in 1941).  But their place in the general order of precedence is clearly defined in the 16th century orders that form the basis for modern precedence.

    I am not sure what is the effect of the House of Lords Act.  The Roll of Parliament is now called a "list of Members of the House," and is purely alphabetical, all non-sitting peers having been removed. But the House of Lords Precedence Act has not been repealed, as far as I know.

    Tables v. orders of precedence

    A table of precedence is a list of persons established by application of the laws of precedence.  It is not equivalent to the laws of precedence, and contains less information.  No single table of precedence can be regarded as authoritative.

    Tables appear as early as the 15th c.  In the 17th c., numerous attempts at producing a table resulted in somewhat conflicting results.  Joseph Edmondson, Mowbray Herald, produced a table in the 1760s, attempting to cite authority for each rank.  Sir William Blackstone included a similar table in the 5th edition of his Commentaries on the Laws of England (1773).  Blackstone's table is the ancestor of the table in Burke's Peerage and various other publications (such as Dod's and Kelly's Handbook), although each work updated the table independently of the others.  The best table is that of Sir Charles Young, Garter King of Arms (Order of Precedence with Authorities and Remarks, 1851), an "impeccable statement of the law as it was in 1851."  Squibb based his own updated table on Young's work.

    Squibb drew up a table of precedence for his book, based on the rules he had found.

    Disputes over precedence

    Coke, in his Institutes, wrote that cases of precedence other than between lords of Parliament belonged before the Court of Chivalry (1648).  This opinion was also expressed in Ashton v. Jennings (1674), by Sir Matthew Hale (1713) and Blackstone in his Commentaries.  The problem is that there are no known cases of precedence having come before the Court of Chivalry.  Various cases of precedence were decided by the Earl Marshal in the 16th c. and early 17th c., but at a time when a properly constituted Court of Chivalry did not exist (between 1521, when the office of Lord High Constable became vacant, until 1622, it was thought that only the Constable could preside the court).

    In practice, it appears that cases of precedence, other than between lords of Parliament, have been resolved by the king, either directly, or refering the matter to the Earl Marshal or to commissioners for executing his office.  This is perfectly logical, since precedence originates in the king's exercise of his royal prerogative, and disputes over precedence are resolved not in a judicial manner, but by having the sovereign make his will explicit (of course, the sovereign may choose to use quasi-judicial proceedings in order to form an opinion).  Cases arising between lords of Parliament have been referred since the 15th c. to the House of Lords.

    Finally, some precedence has its source in statutes (such as the House of Lords Precedence Act of 1539), and disputes over precedence that arises from statute would have to be decided by common-law judges, according to Coke.  But no such case is known to have ever arisen.

    Summary of Rules

    The ranks can be distinguished depending on whether they pertain to a person or to an office.

    Personal precedence

    Sovereign

    The sovereign heads the order of precedence as successors to the pre-Reformation kings for the temporal part, and as successors to the papacy (Act of Supremacy 1558).   A queen regnant has the same prerogatives as a king (Queen Regent's Prerogative Act 1554).

    Regent

    The duke of Somerset, as Protector of the Realm under Edward VI, was given precedence next to the king by letters patent.

    Consort

    • Philip of Spain:

    • He was jointly king (articles of marriage)
    • William of Orange:

    • he was king as William III (Bill of Rights)
    • Prince George of Denmark:

    • he was given precedence as "the first nobleman of England" by his act of naturalization of 1688.
    • Prince Leopold (husband of Charlotte, only daughter of George IV):

    • a statute of 1816 gave the Prince Regent authority to assign precedence to his son-in-law Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, which he did by warrant of 3 May 1816 (immediately after the sons of the King's brothers and sisters).
    • Prince Albert:

    • when Queen Victoria married Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha a bill in Parliament assigning him precedence next after the queen was defeated.  His precedence was assigned by warrant of 4 Mar 1840 "except where otherwise provided by Act of Parliament".
    • Duke of Edinburgh:

    • the warrant of 15 Sep 1952 assigns him precedence after the Queen "except where otherwise provided by Act of Parliament" (e.g., his place on the Parliament Roll is assigned by the date of creation of his peerage, namely 1948, the last of all dukes)

    Male Members of the Royal Family

    The traditional order is:
    • Sovereign's sons (Precedence Act 1539)
    • Sovereign's grandsons (settled practice since a warrant of 13 Dec 1726 placing the dukes of Edinburgh and Cumberland before the duke of York)
    • Sovereign's brothers (Precedence Act 1539)
    • Sovereign's uncles (Precedence Act 1539)
    • Sovereign's nephews (in male or female line; Precedence Act 1539: "or the King's brothers' or sisters' sons")
    • grandsons of former sovereigns who are dukes (since 1850 when the duke of Cambridge was placed before the archbishop of Canterbury)
    • grandsons of former sovereigns who are not dukes (HRH and Prince of GB by letters patent, 30 Oct 1917; precedence by custom)
    Within each class, siblings are arranged by order of birth and otherwise individuals are arranged by order of succession to the throne (e.g., among grandsons and nephews).

    Peers

    Earls came before barons from the earliest days.  The first non-royal duke was created in 1397, but a statute of 1382 already lists dukes before earls and barons.  Marquesses came before earls almost as soon as they were first created (1386), as viscounts did after earls (1440) although their position with respect to eldest sons of earls was not resolved until 1520.  Lords of appeal in ordinary have precedence as if they were barons (Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876) as do life peers (Life Peerages Act 1958).  There is no distinction made within the rank of baron between hereditary barons, lords of appeal and life peers.

    The king's ability to alter the precedence within a rank of the peerage was effectively curtailed by the House of Lords Precedence Act 1539, which states that peers should sit after their "ancienty" (i.e.e, the date of creation of the peerage).  Attempts by James I and Charles I to assign higher precedence than normal to newly created peers met with opposition in the House of Lords, and no sovereign has attempted to do so since.

    The relative precedence of peers of England, Scotland, Ireland and the United Kingdom is determined by the Act of Union 1706 (art. 23) and the Act of Union 1800 (art. 4).

    Children and Grandchildren of Peers

    Children of peers were given precedence as early as the 14th c., with differences made between eldest and younger sons.  The ordering has been basically unchanged since 1399, although the position of sons of viscounts was altered in 1595.  All sons of peers rank above knights bachelor.  A peer who disclaims loses his precedence, as does his wife, but his children do not.  If a peer's eldest son dies, his eldest son inherits his precedence.  Grandchildren of peers were first assigned precedence in the 17th c.

    Children of lords of appeal or life peers have no statutory precedence, since their parent's rank is not hereditary.  Their ranks are set by a royal warrant of 21 Jul 1958.

    Baronets

    The creation of the new rank of baronet in 1611 occasioned considerable controversy.  James I had to settle the matter with letters patent od 28 May 1612 (which incidentally set the precedence of a number of officials).  Originally, the precedence of baronets was set in each letters patent of creation.  Thereafter, the letters patent of creation repeated the wording of the decree of 1612, and later still just referred to the customary precedences and advantages.  The letters patent of creation also set the precedence of the sons of the baronet.  James I made a promise never to create any other "degree, order, name, title, rank, dignity or state" between the lords of Parliament and the baronets.  Baronets

    While the Acts of Union of 1706 and 1800 set the precedence between the peerages of England, Scotland, Great Britain, Ireland and the United Kingdom, they are silent on the matter of baronets.  It is therefore assumed that the precedence is set by the date of creation only (rule followed by the Registrars of the Baronetage appointed under a royal warrant of 8 Feb 1910 to keep a roll of the baronetage).

    Knights

    The order in medieval times was knights of the Garter, knights of the Bath, knights bannerets and knights bachelors.  For the modern orders, precedence is defined in the statutes of the order.  The statutes often refer to each other in defining relative precedence, resulting in one bizarre case of circularity: the women members of the Royal Victorian Order are given precedence immediately before women members of the corresponding classes of the Order of the British Empire, while the women members of the Order of the British Empire are given by that order's statutes precedence immediately after women members of the corresponding classes of the Royal Victorian Order!

    The enlargement of the Order of the Bath in 1815 introduced classes of members who were not knights.  They were given precedence before all esquires of the United Kingdom, which has been taken to mean those esquires who do not have precedence higher than knights (such as sons of peers).  The other orders with such classes of members (Star of India, St. Michael and St. George, Indian Empire, Distinguished Service Order, Royal Victorian Order, British Empire)

    Esquires

    Esquires form an ill-defined category.  The only esquires to have a firm place in the order of precedence are sons of peers, who come before knights bachelor, and sons of baronets and knights, who come after them.  Below younger sons of knights bachelor there is no lawful authority for any order of precedence, although attempts have been made.

    Official precedence

    Great Officers of State

    Their precedence, in Parliament and outside Parliament, is set by the House of Lords Precedence Act 1539.

    In Parliament:

    • if peers, the Lord Chancellor, Lord Treasurer, Lord President of the Council and Lord Privy Seal precede all dukes except the sovereign's sons, brothers, uncles, nephews. (s.4)

    • If not peers, they should "sit at the uppermost parts of the sacks in the Parliament Chamber".(s.8)
    • the Lord Great Chamberlain, the Lord High Constable, the Earl Marshal, the Lord High Admiral, the Lord Steward of the Household and the Lord Chamberlain are placed after the Lord Privy Seal and "above all other personages of the same estates and degrees as they shall happen to be".  (s.5)

    • This means that, if the Lord Steward is a viscount, he precedes all viscounts; but he does not precede the Lord Chamberlain if the latter is an earl or above.
      In 1714 the Lord Great Chamberlain, who was a marquess, was made duke of Ancaster; but his precedence remained that of his creation except when in the actual execution of his office, lest he always precede the duke of Norfolk (Earl Marshal).  This provision expired when the dukedom of Ancaster became extinct in 1779, but the provision was erroneously repeated in Burke's Peerage ever since.
    Outside Parliament:
    • the order of precedence is:  Lord Chancellor, Lord Treasurer, Lord President of the Council, Lord Privy Seal, Lord Great Chamberlain, the Lord High Constable, the Earl Marshal, the Lord High Admiral, the Lord Steward of the Household, the Lord Chamberlain (independently of whether they are peers or not). (s.10)
    The Master of the Horse is placed "next after" the Lord Chamberlain, but the latter's position depends on his peerage.  If the Master of the Horse has a higher peerage, he keeps his position; if he has an equal or lower peerage, he precedes all other peers of the Chamberlain's rank.

    The other main categories of officials are bishops and judges.

    Women

    Precedence for women remains separate from precedence for men, although the increasing number of women holding offices listed in the order of precedence for men makes this increasingly untenable.

    Women traditionally derive their precedence from three sources:

    • the personal precedence of their father
    • the personal precedence of their husband
    • their membership in an order, or their official position (maids of honor, warrant 29 Oct 1912)
    Married women are ranked between themselves as their husbands are, and daughters have the same rank as their eldest brothers (after their eldest brother's wives but before their younger brothers' wives).

    In principle, women do not lose their precedence upon death of the husband or divorce (Cowley (Earl) v. Cowley (Countess), [1901] A.C. 450).  A widow or divorcee of a peer retains her precedence until remarriage.  For non-peer precedence, it seems that the widowed or divorced wife retains it even after remarriage.  The wife of a peer who disclaimed loses her precedence, but not his daughters.  Daughters of peers who marry below the rank of baron retain their rank, but if they marry a baron they rank as the wife of a baron.  Daughters of sons of peers were first granted precedence in tables drawn on order of the Earl Marshal in 1763 and in 1812.

    The case of divorces in the royal family is special: letters patent of 28 Aug 1996 specify that the "style, title or attribute of Royal Highness" acquired by marriage is lost upon divorce, but I do not know if anything is said about precedence.

    Table of precedence for men

    This is substantially the same as the list in Squibb given below, with the difference that Squibb did not list all possible categories (he omitted categories of the royal family who did not exist in 1981, like grandchildren of the sovereign).  I also try to cite the authorities that he gives for the ranks, which are scattered through the text of his book.

    Out of curiosity, I have given some names of office-holders as I was able to find them.  They are valid roughly as of early 2001. (See the full list of HM's government (2 Feb 2001), senior judiciary list (April 2001)).
     
     
     
    Rank or Office Present Holder Authority Remarks
    Sovereign Queen Elizabeth II Queen Regent's Prerogative Act 1554  
      HRH the Duke of Edinburgh warrant 15 Sep 1952 except in Parliament
    Sovereign's sons HRH the Prince of Wales
    HRH the Duke of York
    HRH the Earl of Wessex
    Precedence Act 1539  
    Sovereign's grandsons HRH Prince William of Wales
    HRH Prince Henry of Wales
    13 Dec 1726, practice  
    Sovereign's brothers (none) Precedence Act 1539  
    Sovereign's uncles (none living) Precedence Act 1539  
    Sovereign's nephews Viscount Linley Precedence Act 1539  
    grandsons of former sovereigns 
    who are dukes
    HRH the Duke of Gloucester
    HRH the Duke of Kent
    precedent 1850  
    grandsons of former sovereigns 
    who are not dukes
    HRH Prince Michael of Kent practice  
    Vicegerent in Spirituals (vacant since 1540)    
    Archbishop of Canterbury Rt Rev George Carey Precedence Act 1539  
    Lord Chancellor Rt Hon Lord Irvine of Lairg  Precedence Act 1539 (s.10), custom except in Parliament  (s.4,8)
    Archbishop of York Rt Rev David Hope Precedence Act 1539   
    Prime Minister Rt Hon Tony Blair MP warrant 10 Dec 1905  
    Lord High Treasurer (in commission since 1714) Precedence Act 1539 (s.10)  except in Parliament (s.4,8)
    Lord President of the Council Rt Hon Margaret Beckett MP Precedence Act 1539 (s.10) except in Parliament  (s.4,8)
    Speaker of the House of Commons Rt Hon Michael Martin MP Order in Council 30 May 1919  
    Lord Privy Seal Rt Hon Baroness Jay of Paddington Precedence Act 1539 (s.10) except in Parliament (s.4,8)
    Ambassadors and High Commissioners 
    of Commonwealth countries
      warrant 24 Dec 1948  
    Lord Great Chamberlain Marquess of Cholmondeley, deputy Precedence Act 1539 (s.10) except in Parliament (s.5)
    Lord High Constable (vacant since 1521) Precedence Act 1539 (s.10) except in Parliament (s.5)
    Earl Marshal  His Grace the Duke of Norfolk Precedence Act 1539 (s.10) except in Parliament (s.5)
    Lord High Admiral (in commission since 1828) Precedence Act 1539 (s.10) except in Parliament (s.5)
    Lord Steward of the Household Viscount Ridley, KG, GCVO, TD Precedence Act 1539 (s.10) except in Parliament (s.5)
    Lord Chamberlain Rt Hon Lord Luce DL Precedence Act 1539 (s.10) except in Parliament (s.5)
    Master of the Horse Lord Somerleyton, KCVO warrant 6 May 1907  
    Royal Dukes not grandsons of sovereign   Lord Chamberlain's Order 1595 except in Parliament
    Dukes of England      
    Dukes of Scotland   Act of Union 1706, art. 23  
    Dukes of Great Britain   Act of Union 1706, art. 23  
    Dukes of Ireland 
    created before 1801
      Act of Union 1800, art. 4  
    Dukes of the UK and of Ireland 
    created after 1801
      Act of Union 1800, art. 4  
    Eldest sons of Dukes of the blood royal Earl of Ulster
    Earl of St. Andrews
       
    Marquesses of England      
    Marquesses of Scotland   Act of Union 1706, art. 23  
    Marquesses of Great Britain   Act of Union 1706, art. 23  
    Marquesses of Ireland created before 1801   Act of Union 1800, art. 4  
    Marquesses of the UK and of Ireland 
    created after 1801
      Act of Union 1800, art. 4  
    Eldest sons of Dukes 
    not of the Blood Royal
         
    Earls of England      
    Earls of Scotland   Act of Union 1706, art. 23  
    Earls of Great Britain   Act of Union 1706, art. 23  
    Earls of Ireland created before 1801   Act of Union 1800, art. 4  
    Earls of the United Kingdom and 
    Earls of Ireland created after 1801
      Act of Union 1800, art. 4  
    Younger sons of Dukes of the Blood Royal Lord Nicholas Windsor    
    Eldest Sons of Marquesses      
    Younger sons of Dukes 
    not of the Blood Royal
         
    Viscounts of England      
    Viscounts of Scotland   Act of Union 1706, art. 23  
    Viscounts of Great Britain   Act of Union 1706, art. 23  
    Viscounts of Ireland created before 1801   Act of Union 1800, art. 4  
    Viscounts of the United Kingdom and 
    Viscounts of Ireland created after 1800
      Act of Union 1800, art. 4  
    Eldest sons of Earls      
    Younger sons of Marquesses including Lord Frederick Windsor    
    Bishop of London   Precedence Act 1539, s.3  
    Bishop of Durham   Precedence Act 1539, s.3  
    Bishop of Winchester   Precedence Act 1539, s.3  
    Other English Diocesan Bishops 
    (by seniority of consecration)
      Precedence Act 1539, s.3 21 bishops
    Suffragan and retired Bishops   Suffragan Bishops Act 1534, s.2  
    Secretary of State, if a baron   Precedence Act 1539, s.5  
    Barons of England      
    Barons of Scotland   Act of Union 1706, art. 23  
    Barons of Great Britain   Act of Union 1706, art. 23  
    Barons of Ireland created before 1801   Act of Union 1800, art. 4  
    Barons of the United Kingdom, 
    Barons of Ireland created since 1800, 
    Lords of Appeal in Ordinary and Life Peers 
    according to their dates of appointment or creation
      Act of Union 1800, art. 4  
    Commissioners of the Great Seal  (none except briefly since 1850)    
    Treasurer of the Household Rt Hon Keith Bradley MP warrant March 1540  
    Comptroller of the Household Thomas McAvoy MP warrant March 1540  
    Vice-Chamberlain of the Household Graham Allen MP warrant March 1540  
    Secretary of State, if under the degree of a baron   warrant March 1540  
    Eldest sons of Viscounts   Lord Chamberlain's Order 1595  
    Younger sons of Earls   royal decision 1620  
    Eldest sons of Barons      
    Knights of the Garter      
    Knights of the Thistle      
    Knights of St Patrick none since 1974    
    Privy Councillors (by date of oath-taking)   letters patent 28 May 1612 the Privy Council has 510 members ( list of members)
    Chancellor of the Order of the Garter  (office annexed to the bishopric of Oxford 
    since 1837)
    decree of the chapter of the order, 23 Apr 1629  
    Chancellor of the Exchequer Rt Hon Gordon Brown MP letters patent 28 May 1612  
    Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Rt Hon Dr Mo Mowlam MP letters patent 28 May 1612, Supreme Court of Judicature Act 1873, s.11 ranks as a Privy Councillor
    Lord Chief Justice of England Rt Hon The Lord Woolf letters patent 28 May 1612, Supreme Court of Judicature Act 1873, s.11  ranks as life peer
    Master of the Rolls Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers letters patent 28 May 1612 ranks as a Privy Councillor
    President of the Family Division 
    of the High Court
    Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss letters patent 28 May 1612,  Supreme Court of Judicature Consolidation Act 1925 s.16(2) ranks as a Privy Councillor
    Lords Justices of Appeal 
    (usually rank as a PC)
    Rt Hon Lord/Lady Justice ... letters patent 28 May 1612,  Supreme Court of Judicature Consolidation Act 1925 s.16(3)  
    Judges of the High Court in order of appointment, irrespective of the Divisions to which they are assigned The Hon Justice ... letters patent 28 May 1612, Supreme Court of Judicature Consolidation Act 1925 s.16(4)  
    Younger sons of Viscounts   letters patent 28 May 1612  
    Younger sons of Barons and sons of Lords of Appeal in Ordinary, Life Peers and Life Peeresses   warrant 21 July 1958  
    Baronets   letters patent 28 May 1612  
    Knights Grand Cross 
    of the Order of the Bath
      Earl Marshal's Order 4 Feb 1626, Statutes of the Order of the Bath 1725, 1815, 1847, 1972  
    Knights Grand Commanders 
    of the Order of the Star of India
         
    Knights Grand Cross 
    of the Order of St Michael and St George
         
    Knights Grand Commanders 
    of the Order of the Indian Empire
         
    Knights Grand Cross 
    of the Royal Victorian Order
         
    Knights Grand Cross 
    of the Order of the British Empire
         
    Knights Commanders 
    of the Order of the Bath
      Statutes of the Order of the Bath 1972  
    Knights Commanders 
    of the Order of the Star of India
         
    Knights Commanders 
    of the Order of St Michael and St George
         
    Knights Commanders 
    of the Order of the Indian Empire
         
    Knights Commanders 
    of the Royal Victorian Order
         
    Knights Commanders 
    of the Order of the British Empire
         
    Knights Bachelors      
    Vice-Chancellor 
    of the County Palatine of Lancaster
      warrant 29 March 1972  
    Recorder of London   warrant 29 March 1972  
    Recorders of Liverpool and Manchester 
    (by priority of appointment)
      warrant 29 March 1972  
    Common Serjeant   warrant 29 March 1972  
    Other Circuit judges according to the 
    (by priority or order of their respective appointments)
      warrant 29 March 1972  
    Master of the Court of Protection Denzil Lush precedents, 8 & 9 Vict c.100, Patients Estates Order 1947  
    Companions of the Order 
    of the Bath
      Statutes of the Order of the Bath 1815  
    Companions of the Order 
    of the Star of India
         
    Companions of the Order 
    of St Michael and St George
         
    Companions of the Order 
    of the Indian Empire
         
    Commanders 
    of the Royal Victorian Order
      Statutes of the Royal Victorian Order  
    Commanders 
    of the Order of the British Empire
      Statutes of the Order of the British Empire  
    Companions 
    of the Distinguished Service Order
         
    Members of the 
    Royal Victorian Order (4th class)
      Statutes of the Royal Victorian Order  
    Officers of the 
    Order of the British Empire
      Statutes of the Order of the British Empire  
    Companions of the 
    Imperial Service Order
         
    Eldest sons of the younger sons of Peers   Earl Marshal 18 March 1615, 1677  
    Eldest sons of Baronets   letters patents creating baronets  
    Eldest sons of Knights      
    Members of the 
    Royal Victorian Order (5th class)
      Statutes of the Royal Victorian Order  
    Members of the 
    Order of the British Empire
      Statutes of the Order of the British Empire  
    Younger sons of Baronets   letters patents creating baronets  
    Younger sons of Knights      

    Documents

    The Lord Chamberlain's Order of 1520, as amended in 1595

    Source: Squibb, op. cit., Appendix I, p. 99-101.

    The text of the Order survives in its amended form in a copy of a paper lent to Richard Lee, Clarenceux King of Arms, on 17 January 1595 by Lord Treasurer Burghley, one of the Commissioners appointed to inquire into the precedence of 'personages of great Estate birth and callinge.'  A note in the handwriting of Ralph Brooke, York Herald, states that he saw Burleigh deliver the paper to Lee (Coll. Arm. MS R.36, Hare I, po. 181).  The preamble stating the circumstances in which the Order was drawn up must have been prepared after 28 January 1547, since it describes Henry VIII as 'of glorious memory.'

    On Mondaye in the Easter Weeke in the xjth yere of the raigne of King Henry the Eyght of glorious memory the Earle of Worcester then beynge Chamberlayne to the Kinge, dyned in the Greate Chamber att Richmont in his Roome and Mons. de la Batye Ambassador to the ffrenche kinge dyned with him sittinge directly on the over syde against the sayde Lord Chamberlayne, The Ambassador of Venyce, sittinge next unto the L. Chamberlayne on the insyde, The Earle of Westmorland on the over syde next to the ffrench Ambassador. The Earle of Ketitt on the insyde next to the Ambassador of Venyce. The Earle of Devonshire on the owtesyde next unto the Earle of Westmerlande. At whiche tyme order was taken for the placynge of Lordes and Ladyes as hereunder is sett downe.

    1.—Firste the Duke to goo after his Creation, and the Duches his wyfe to goo after the same.

    2 Item.—A Dukes eldiste son is borne a Marquis, savinge he shall goo beneath all Marquisses, and his wyfe beneath all Marquisses wyves, and above all Dukes daughters.

    3 Item.—Dukes daughters be borne as Marquisses in all degrees, savinge they shall goo beneathe all Marquisses and Dukes eldiste sonns Wyves. And yf they be married to a Baron, they shall goo after the Estate of their housbands. And if they marye with a Knight, or under the degree of a Knight, then to go after ther birth.

    4 Item.—Dukes younger sonns be borne as Earles, and shall goo above all Viscounts, and beneath all the eldiste sonns of Marquisses, and ther wyves to go accordynge to the same.

    5 Item.—A Marquis to goo after his Creation and the Marquisses ther Wyves to goo after the same.

    6 Item.—A Marques eldiste soñe is borne an Earle and shall goo above all Dukes younger sonns and above all Viscounts and their Wyves accordinge to the same.

    7 Item.—All Marquisses daughters to be borne as Countisses and shall goo above all Dukes younger sonns Wyves and above all Viscountisses, and yf they be maried to a baron they shall goo after ther housbande, and yf thay be maried to a Knight, or under the degree of a Knight, thay shall goo accordinge to ther byrthe.

    8 Item.—All Marquisses younger sonns to be borne as Barons and shall goo beneath all barons and above all Viscounts eldist sonns, and ther Wyves to goo accordinge to the same.

    9 Item.—An Earle to goo after his Creation and the Countisses their Wyves to goo after the same.

    10 Item.—An Earles eldiste sonne is borne as a Viscounte savinge he shall goo beneath all Viscounts and his Wyfe beneath all Viscountisses and above all other Earles daughters.

    11 Item. —Earles daughters are borne as Viscounts savinge thay shall goo beneath all Viscountisses and the Earles eldist sonns wyves and yf thay be maried to a baron thay shall goo after the degree of ther housbande. And yf thay marle with a Knight or under the degree ofa Knight thay shall goo after theire birthe.

    12 Item. —Earles younger sonnes be borne as barons sayinge thay shall goo beneath all barons and Viscounts eldiste sonns and above all Baronetts [i.e. bannerets] and their Wyves to goo beneath all baronesses and Viscounts daughters and above all Baronetts Wyves.

    13 Item. —A Viscount to goo after his Creation and the Viscountes theire wyves after the same.

    14 Item. —Viscounts eldiste sonns be borne as barons and shall goo as Barons savinge thay shall goo beneath all Barons all Marquisses younger sonns and above all Earls younger sonns and their wyves shall goo beneath all baronnesses and above all Viscounts daughters.

    15 Item.—Viscounts daughters be borne as Baronesses savinge they shall goo beneath all Baronesses and Viscounts eldist sonns wyves, and yf they be maried to a Baron thay shall goo after the degree of their housbandes and yf they marye a Knighte or under the degree of a Knighte thay shall goo after theire byrthes.

    16 Item.—All Viscounts younger sonns as Baronetts [i.e. bannerets] and shall goo as Baneretts savinge thay shall goo beneath all Baneretts and theire wyves to goo accordinge to the same.

    17 Item.—A Baron to goo after his Creation and the Barronesses their wyves to go after the same.

    18 Item.—Barons eldiste sonns be borne as Banerets and shall goo as Baneretts savinge they shall goo above all Baronetts [i.e. bannerets] and all Barons younger sonns to goo above all Batchler Knights because their ffather is a Piere of the Realme.

    19 Item.—[This was set downe & ordered by the 3 Lo. Comyssioners for these purpoises, 1595.] All Barons daughters to goo above all Baneretts wyves and Batchler Knightes Wyves so longe as thay be unmaryed and yf thay marie under degree of a Knight thay shall then goo beneath above all Knights wyves according to ther Birth and Estate.

    20 Item. —Yf there be any of the degree above written come of the blood Royall or be any kynne to the Kinges highnes thay ought to stance above the degrees that they be of themselves, as a Duke above all other Dukes and so foorthe all the degrees in lyke sorte unlesse the pleasure of the Prince be to the contrarye.
     

    Modern Tables of Precedence (1981)

    Source: Squibb , op. cit.,  Appendix IV, pp.119-125.

    MEN

    The Queen
    Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
    The Prince of Wales
    The Queen's Younger Sons
    Dukes of the Blood Royal
    Prince Michael of Kent
    Vicegerent in Spirituals (vacant since 1540)
    Archbishop of Canterbury
    Lord Chancellors
    Archbishop of York
    Prime Minister
    Lord High Treasurer (in commission since 1714)
    Lord President of the Council
    Speaker of the House of Commons
    Lord Privy Seal
    Ambassadors and High Commissioners in order of seniority based on dates of arrival in the United Kingdom
    Lord Great Chamberlain
    Lord High Constable (vacant since 1521)
    Earl Marshal
    Lord High Admiral (in commission since 1828)
    Lord Steward of the Household
    Lord Chamberlain
    Master of the Horse
    [Successors of Dukes of the Blood Royal]
    Dukes of England
    Dukes of Scotland
    Dukes of Great Britain
    Dukes of Ireland created before 1801 (only the duke of Leinster)
    Dukes of the United Kingdom and Dukes of Ireland created after 1800 (only the duke of Abercorn)
    Eldest sons of Dukes of the Blood Royal
    Marquesses of England
    Marquesses of Scotland
    Marquesses of Great Britain
    Marquesses of Ireland created before 1801
    Marquesses of the United Kingdom and Marquesses of Ireland created after 1800
    Eldest sons of Dukes not of the Blood Royal
    Earls of England
    Earls of Scotland
    Earls of Great Britain
    Earls of Ireland created before 1801
    Earls of the United Kingdom and Earls of Ireland created after 1800
    Younger sons Dukes of the Blood Royal
    Eldest Sons of Marquesses
    Younger sons of Dukes not of the Blood Royal
    Viscounts of England
    Viscounts of Scotland
    Viscounts of Great Britain
    Viscounts of Ireland created before 1801
    Viscounts of the United Kingdom and Viscounts of Ireland created after 1800
    Eldest sons of Earls
    Younger sons of Marquesses
    Bishop of London
    Bishop of Durham
    Bishop of Winchester
    Other English Diocesan Bishops according to their seniority of consecration
    Suffragan and retired Bishops
    Secretary of State, if a baron
    Barons of England
    Barons of Scotland
    Barons of Great Britain
    Barons of Ireland created before 1801
    Barons of the United Kingdom, Barons of Ireland created since 1800,
    Lords of Appeal in Ordinary and Life Peers according to their dates of appointment or creation
    Commissioners of the Great Seal (none except briefly since 1850)
    Treasurer of the Household
    Comptroller of the Household
    Vice-Chamberlain of the Household
    Secretary of State, if under the degree of a baron
    Eldest sons of Viscounts
    Younger sons of Earls
    Eldest sons of Barons
    Knights of the Garter
    Knights of the Thistle
    Knights of St Patrick
    Privy Councillors
    Chancellor of the Order of the Garter (office annexed to the bishopric of Oxford since 1837)
    Chancellor of the Exchequer
    Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
    Lord Chief Justice of England (usually ranks as a PC)
    Master of the Rolls (usually ranks as a PC)
    President of the Family Division of the High Court (usually ranks as a PC)
    Lords Justices of Appeal (usually ranks as a PC)
    Judges of the High Court in order of appointment, irrespective of the Divisions to which they are assigned
    Younger sons of Viscounts
    Younger sons of Barons and sons of Lords of Appeal in Ordinary,
    Life Peers and Life Peeresses
    Baronets
    Knights Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
    Knights Grand Commanders of the Order of the Star of India
    Knights Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George
    Knights Grand Commanders of the Order of the Indian Empire
    Knights Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order
    Knights Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire
    Knights Commanders of the Order of the Bath
    Knights Commanders of the Order of the Star of India
    Knights Commanders of the Order of St Michael and St George
    Knights Commanders of the Order of the Indian Empire
    Knights Commanders of the Royal Victorian Order
    Knights Commanders of the Order of the British Empire
    Knights Bachelors
    Vice-Chancellor of the County Palatine of Lancaster
    Recorder of London
    Recorders of Liverpool and Manchester according to priority of appointment
    Common Serjeant
    Other Circuit judges according to the priority or order of their respective appointments
    Master of the Court of Protection
    Companions of the Order of the Bath
    Companions of the Order of the Star of India
    Companions of the Order of St Michael and St George
    Companions of the Order of the Indian Empire
    Commanders of the Royal Victorian Order
    Commanders of the Order of the British Empire
    Companions of the Distinguished Service Order
    Members of the Royal Victorian Order (4th class)
    Officers of the Order of the British Empire
    Companions of the Imperial Service Order
    Eldest sons of the younger sons of Peers
    Eldest sons of Baronets
    Eldest sons of Knights
    Members of the Royal Victorian Order (5th class)
    Members of the Order of the British Empire
    Younger sons of Baronets
    Younger sons of Knights

    WOMEN

    The Queen
    Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother
    The Queen's Daughter
    The Queen's Sister
    Wives of Dukes of the Blood Royal
    the Princess Alexandra of Kent, the Hon. Mrs Angus Ogilvy
    Duchesses of England
    Duchesses of Scotland
    Duchesses of Great Britain
    Duchess of Leinster
    Duchess of the United Kingdom and the Duchess of Abercorn
    Wives of the eldest sons of Dukes of the Blood Royal
    Daughters of Dukes of the Blood Royal
    Marchionesses of England
    Marchionesses of Scotland
    Marchionesses of Great Britain
    Marchionesses of Ireland created before 1801
    Marchionesses of the United Kingdom and Marchionesses of Ireland created after 1800
    Wives of the eldest sons of Dukes not of the Blood Royal
    Daughters of' Dukes not of the Blood Royal not married to Peers
    Countesses of England
    Countesses of Scotland
    Countesses of Great Britain
    Countesses of Ireland created before 1801
    Countesses of the United Kingdom and Countesses of Ireland created after 1800
    Wives of the younger sons of Dukes of the Blood Royal 22
    Wives of the eldest sons of Marquesses
    Daughters of Marquesses not married to Peers
    Wives of the younger sons of Dukes not of the Blood Royal
    Viscountesses of England
    Viscountesses of Scotland
    Viscountesses of Great Britain
    Viscountesses of Ireland created before 1801
    Viscountesses of the United Kingdom and Viscountesses of Ireland created after 1800
    Wives of the eldest sons of Earls
    Daughters of Earls not married to Peers
    Wives of younger sons of Marqusses
    Baronesses of England
    Baronesses of Scotland
    Baronesses of Great Britain
    Baronesses of Ireland created before 1801
    Baronesses of the United Kingdom, Baronesses of Ireland created after 1800, Life Peeresses, Wives of Lords of Appeal in Ordinary, and Wives of Life Peers
    Wives of the eldest sons of Viscounts
    Daughters of Viscounts no married to Peers
    Wives of the younger sons of Earls
    Wives of the eldest sons of Barons
    Daughters of Barons,. Lords of Appeal in Ordinary, Life Peers, and Life Peeresses not married to Peers
    Maids of Honour
    Wives of Knights of the Garter
    Wives of the younger sons of Viscounts
    Wives of the younger sons of Barons
    Wives of Baronets
    Dames Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
    Dames Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
    Dames Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George
    Dames Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order
    Dames Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire
    Wives of Knights Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
    Wives of Knights Grand Commanders of the Order of the Star of India
    Wives of Knights Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George
    Wives of Knights Grand Commanders of the Order of the Indian Empire
    Wives of Knights Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order
    Wives of Knights Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire
    Dames Commanders of the Order of the Bath
    Dames Commanders of the Order of the Star of India
    Dames Commanders of the Order of St Michael and St George
    Dames Commanders of the Order of the Indian Empire
    Dames Commanders of the Royal Victorian Order
    Dames Commanders of the Order of the British Empire
    Wives of Knights Bachelors
    Companions of the Order of the Bath
    Companions of the Order of St Michael and St George
    Commanders of the Royal Victorian Order
    Commanders of the Order of the British Empire
    Wives of Companions and Commanders of the Orders of the Bath, the Star of India, St Michael and St George, and the Indian Empire, the Royal Victorian Order, and the British Empire
    Members of the Royal Victorian Order (4th class)
    Officers of the Order of the British Empire
    Wives Companions of the Distinguished Service Order
    Members of the Royal Victorian Order (4th class)
    Wives of Members of the Royal Victorian Order (4th class)
    Wives of Officers of the Order of the British Empire
    Companions of the Imperial Service Order
    Wives of the eldest sons of the younger sons of Peers
    Daughters of the younger sons of Peers
    Wives of the eldest sons of Baronets
    Wives of the eldest sons of Knights
    Members of the Royal Victorian Order (5th class)
    Members of the Order of the British Empire
    Wives of Members of the Royal Victorian Order (5th class)
    Wives of Members of the Order of the British Empire
    Wives of younger sons of Baronets
    Wives of younger sons of Knights

    Forms of Address

    MenWomen
    dukesHis Grace the Duke of NduchessesHer Grace the Duchess of N
    marquessesThe Most Hon the Marquess of NmarquessesThe Most Hon the Marchioness of N
    dukes' eldest sonsThe Most Hon the Marquess of Nwives of dukes' eldest sonsThe Most Hon the Marchioness of N
      daughters of dukesThe Lady Julia Smith
    earls The Right Hon the Earl of NcountessesThe Right Hon the Countess N
    marquesses' eldest sonsThe Right Hon the Earl of Nwives of marquesses' eldest sonsThe Right Hon the Countess N
      daughters of marquessesThe Lady Julia Smith
    dukes' younger sonsThe Lord John Smithwives of dukes' younger sonsThe Lady John Smith
    viscounts The Right Hon the Viscount NviscountessesThe Right Hon the Viscountess N
    earls' eldest sonsThe Right Hon the Viscount Nwives of earls' eldest sonsThe Right Hon the Viscountess N
      daughters of earlsThe Lady Julia Smith
    barons The Right Hon Lord NbaronessesThe Right Hon Lady N
    marquesses' younger sonsThe Lord John Smithwives of marquesses' younger sonsThe Lady John Smith
    viscounts' eldest sonsThe Hon John Smithwives of viscounts' eldest sonsThe Hon Mrs. John Smith
      daughters of viscountsThe Hon Julia Smith
    earls' younger sonsThe Hon John Smithwives of earls' younger sonsThe Hon Mrs. John Smith
    barons' eldest sonsThe Hon John Smith(wives of barons' eldest sons)The Hon Mrs Smith
      daughters of baronsThe Hon Julia Smith
    knights of collar ordersSir John Smithwives of knights of collar ordersLady Smith
    viscounts' younger sonsThe Hon John Smithwives of viscounts' younger sonsThe Hon Mrs. John Smith
    barons' younger sonsThe Hon John Smith The Hon Mrs. John Smith
    baronetsSir John Smith, Btwives of baronetsLady Smith
    knights grand-cross, commanderSir John Smithwives of knights GC, KCLady Smith
    knights bachelorSir John Smithwives of knights bachelorLady Smith
    grandchildren of peersMr. Smith Mrs. Smith
    baronets' eldest sonsMr. Smith Mrs. Smith
    knights' eldest sonsMr. Smithwives of knights' eldest sonsMrs. Smith
    baronets' younger sonsMr. Smith Mrs. Smith
    knights' younger sonsMr. Smithwives of knights' younger sonsMrs. Smith

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