TV Casting for Nobility?? Sunday, Sep 28 2008 

By William Pherrel

Unbelievable but true, a casting show in Germany began airing a casting show to find the most suitable partner for four gentry candidates (one of which is a true Count) and hopes in this way to find the most suitable partner for the lucky hopefuls.

For the sake of the show, all four noblemen were given the title of Count in their search for a Countess, and were of course accompanied by a television camera and crew guaranteeing the highest possible level of quality, and in the interests of the broadcaster, a high audience quota. The German television broadcasting station SAT1 is hoping to attain at least an 11% audience quota with over 2 million viewers (which is excellent for German television viewer statistics, but that is besides the point …)

The idea is based on the reality TV shows popular the world over like “America’s Next Top Model” and similar. For the Europeans of course, the nobility is still a relatively interesting and current topic, even though noble families are hardly ever seen in public or heard of in the press. All the more interesting is it to see citizens in “elevated” positions in this kind of television show with the intention of convincing one of the candidates of why she should pick him, or better yet, why she was chosen by him. Only at the end of the show, is it intended to reveal the true colors of the four gentlemen and of course who the real Countess will be.

Like I mentioned earlier, only one of the candidates is a true Count – Moritz Count to Reventlow, who incidentally is the innovator of the show. The other three bear titles of letter aristocracy, meaning that, members of the letter aristocracy were issued a letter of nobility from a higher noble, typically a King or Prince at some time in history. The name is then passed on from generation to generation. Thus the other three candidates Benedikt von Hobe, Michael von Miller and Constantin von zur Muelen are merely of heritable noble descent, indicated by the “von” in their names and are by no means from direct royal lineage. In fact, Michael von Miller’s descendants were given a peerage as recently as 1875, being merely a nobleman of the court.

In any case, the show is promising to be highly entertaining and is groomed to all levels of viewers. This might perhaps be the beginning of a renewal of concrete interest in matters of peerage and nobility, as the public eye is drawn to a topic that has been long forgotten – the German (and European for that matter) heritage of heraldry.

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Life and noble title up for auction Thursday, Sep 18 2008 

British Lord auctions his noble title …

By William Pherrel

British Lord of the Manor of Warleigh and millionaire David Piper has made headlines in recent years for his attempt to auction off his multi-million dollar assets, but especially in 2002 for advertising his search for a “Lady of Warleigh.” With this, he had hoped to find solvent ladies to pass on through marriage his manorial title and 111 acre estate, including the mansion house itself, two hotels, various outbuildings, two Bentleys and his art collection. In the following two years, he had been swamped by nearly 2000 replies, over 100 with which he had made contact but sadly not found an appropriate match despite about 100 newspaper articles, 30 radio and television interviews and an extensive report about him in the U.S. magazine People. However, he still does receive up to 35 emails a day with offers from all parts of the world and still remains in contact with some of the earlier interested ladies.

He had finally managed to sell the manor and 105 acres in October 2004, leaving him with 6 acres of organic undeveloped farmland, a contemporary art collection, Bentleys, seafront hotel and café, two ocean-view apartments and four big garages crammed full of belongings, from antique clock to chamber organ to a grand piano dating from 1912.

This entire enterprise began when David Piper placed a newspaper ad seeking “an attractive 25 – 35 year old entrepreneurial, intelligent professional of independent means” to “become Lady of Warleigh”. With this, he had hoped to find someone who would first fall in love with his estate “and then fall in love with me” to help get him out of the financial situation he had gotten himself into after the 1999 purchase of the manor and attached noble title of Lord. On top of that, he did not have enough cash to maintain the estimated $ 10,000.00 per month necessary to keep up his estate and pay off his debts.

His ultimate hopes are to clear off his debts and move from the present home town of Plymouth to be closer to his children near London, where he could also receive further treatment at the University College Hospital. Being forced to close the hotels and the café because of his physical inability to spend the necessary time to run them appropriately, Piper was motivated by the story of a British-born rug salesman in Perth, Australia, who had put his life up for sale on eBay after a painful separation from his wife, to do the same.

With this in mind, Piper put himself and all of his worldly belongings on eBay, hoping to raise at least $ 2 million, even though the entire assessed value of his estates of over $ 10 million could theoretically have brought more. However, due to dramatic drops in property prices, he was forced to settle for less. Perhaps the more important reason for his efforts though, are his hopes to fund his cancer treatment after being diagnosed with a T3b prostrate cancer, which had proven too difficult to treat in his home country of Great Britain.

Considered by the press to be eccentric and by many others to be “weird” or “lusty”, I believe that Lord David Piper is merely using his own intuition to resolve his increasingly unmanageable situation with innovative ideas. His title “Lord of the Manor of Warleigh” had been purchased along with the manor itself in 1999. Why should he not sell it in the same way to a person who seeks not only a title, but the wonderful property that belonged to it, perhaps even falling in love with the interested person??

His innovative ideas have not ceased with his eBay offers however. Among 30 different marketing ideas, he is selling the remaining 6 acres of property bit by bit to people who had wanted to buy a part of the Warleigh estate but couldn’t afford the entire property. With this, he is hoping to sell up to 400 separate plots of land varying in size and price beginning at 200 square feet for about $ 1,700.00 up to 5000 square feet for about $ 63,500.00. From planting a tree in memory of a loved one, scattering the ashes of cremated family (or even pet) members, vineyards, rose gazebos, truffle tree plantations or even a Japanese garden, the sky’s the limit for the interested parties!

For a man that has gained much, married twice, and lost much, he is amazingly lacking of sentimental feelings over the loss of his assets – “mostly they are just possessions. I won’t be weeping” he was quoted as saying. It’s quite the opposite actually. He is looking forward to getting rid of it all to begin a new life near Regent’s Park in London – closer to his children, closer to the hospital for his treatments and to settle down to make the most of what might only be a few remaining years of a fast paced and adventurous life.

Castles for sale … Monday, Sep 15 2008 

Growing Trend — Castles for Sale

By William Pherrel

Well, now things are getting increasingly interesting. I have mentioned in my earlier posts that there is a rising trend in the purchase of noble titles, now there seems to be a rising trend in the sale and purchase of castles!!

There are only a small number of castles for sale in the UK per year and a number of castles in Scotland have come on the market in recent years. On continental Europe, castles in France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Slovakia, the Ukraine and the Czech Republic have come onto the market, at least as far as I have discovered so far.

Perhaps one of the most famous purchases in recent months has been that of a three year lease for the French castle Chateau Miraval by Angelia Jolie and Brad Pitt, near the tiny village of Brignol in southern France. Actually, it is more of a mansion than a castle, but whatever the case may be, the price tag matched the property — $ 60 million with 1,000 acres!! The castle itself has over 35 rooms, billiards rooms, an indoor pool, gyms, sauna and jacuzzi and a marvelous banquet hall. Of particular interest is a recording studio installed by one of the previous owners, Jacques Loussier, which has been used for recordings by Sting, The Cranberries and Pink Floyd, to name a few. The estate is surrounded by gardens and a moat and includes even a fountain and a chapel. A vineyard modernized in 1993, an olive grove (with 13 different types of olives) and a mixed forest of evergreen and oak add to a very private and secluded atmosphere, all set back three miles from the main road.

Owning a castle is of course, not something for just anyone. Alone the heating costs and potentially problematic electrical and plumbing, are sources of constant maintenance. The upkeep of the grounds and outer facades of the buildings themselves is also a substantially high cost factor. Some privately owned castles are partially open to the public and therefore require a certain amount more maintenance, including the provision of public toilets and/or souvenir shop. Generally however, the larger privately owned castles are located away from touristy districts and are not open to the public.

There is a surprising number of castle types to choose from. Beginning with ancient several hundred year-old defensive castles and ending with brand new turreted castles complete with swimming pool and other luxurious installations. Depending on the location and age of the castle, the prices can begin with as little as a mere dollar for complete ruins (albeit with the requirement to renovate and/or to keep up the grounds for tourism purposes), or perhaps $ 1 million for a relatively small but renovated castle, up to the above mentioned $ 60 million and even more. The price also depends on the amount of property belonging to the castle and its prior owners, usually of some kind of royal descent.

Of course, the definition for “castle” has been altered over time. In the Middle Ages, a castle was designed to defend the noble families residing in them and were fortified with a protective outer wall surrounding the complex. However, as in the case of Pitt’s and Jolie’s Chateau Miraval, this is far less a castle and would be strictly defined as a stately home or mansion once belonging to a noble family of the French court. The modern castles of today include a broad spectrum of ornately designed homes to larger complexes, housing hotels and/or restaurants.

Whatever the case may be, the purchasing of castles will become most certainly a growing lucrative opportunity for their owners, as the continuously rising upkeep costs prevent them from investing badly needed funds in a cause that may be only historical in nature. Another factor – those castles in Eastern Europe could become more interesting, as many of their owners are unable to afford any kind of upkeep and are looking for rich dollar-owning individuals seeking investment opportunities or quite simply, a very secluded spot to rear their children.

French Titles for Sale … Wednesday, Sep 10 2008 

By William Pherrel

It is simply amazing what I have discovered in the last few days ever since I first began my research on the purchasing of noble titles. It seems that there are quite a few sources to procure so-called noble titles in Britain (See my post on Aug. 19, 2008), but it is apparently possible in other European countries as well.

Let’s have a brief look at France. The legal status of nobility was abolished in 1789 and has since then never been reinstated. Titles in the sense of hereditary marks of honor were re-established in 1808, abolished in 1848, restored in 1852 and remain as such to this day.

It must be noted here, that these are mere titles to be considered as a part of the legal name and offer no privileges or ranking within the nobility, as is often the case in Great Britain. The French Revolution (1789–1799) had completely done away with nobility and titles, whereas a legal system of titles was later reinstated in 1808 by Napoleon Bonaparte I, albeit, without any particular privileges attached – again to be abolished by decree in 1848 to be in turn annulled in 1852 after Napoleon III restored the Empire. The following governments have to date not passed any changing laws on the subject of titles and have left the French courts to determine for themselves how to resolve problems evolving out of title claims and the hereditary passing on of titles.

According to the Constitution of 1958, all citizens are equal, thereby nullifying the concept of nobility once and for all. The establishment of the French Republic in 1875 left the title bearers in a state of pendency requiring a series of court cases to determine their legal status. This has in the meantime, been well established, where the president of France has ceased to grant or confirm any form of titles. The state however, continues to authenticate them, the courts protect them and criminal courts can prosecute their abuse.

As in the case of German noble titles (as mentioned in my earlier blog), the titles remain merely an integral part of the family name but are, for various reasons not equally inheritable. The original granting or creation of the title determines the rules of inheritance (possible only through the male family line, for example) and serve only as an accessory to complement the identity of family members.

Consequently, the only way to acquire a title legitimately is to inherit it in accordance to these rules. It cannot however, be earned or purchased and consequently used as a legitimately recognized title.

Scottish “peerage” titles for sale?? Tuesday, Sep 9 2008 

Another trend — Scottish “peerage” titles for sale!

By William Pherrel

I have mentioned in an earlier blog that the only genuinely purchasable noble title is that of Scottish baron. But first, I would like to explain what a baron is.

“Baron” takes its origin from the old French word baron, itself having its roots from the Frankish baro, which means “freeman” or “warrior.” It was later combined with the cognate Old English word beorn meaning “nobleman” and is essentially known among the Scottish as “Laird.”

William I of England (1027 – Sept. 9, 1087) or otherwise know as William the Conqueror, had first introduced the title of baron as a rank to distinguish those who had vowed allegiance to him. Until then, the king’s companions bore the titles of Earl in England and Thane in Scotland. All those who bore the new title became equally “in chief of the king” and were thus pledged to undertake various services and were welcome to attend the king’s council.

The rank of baron is the last in the consecutive list of ranks beginning with Emperor, King, Prince, Grand Duke, Archduke, Duke, Marquess, Margrave, Count/Earl, Viscount and finally ending with Baron.

The legal right to bear this title is now obsolete in England but has remained in Scotland, merely related to the feudal nobility of Scotland; meaning, the holder has feudal superiority over a given territory set up into a “free barony” or manor by a Crown Charter, but does not possesses a rank of peerage. Hence, the Scottish Baron is classified merely as Lord of Parliament.

With this in mind, it would be erroneous to conclude that the purchase of the baron title would automatically provide the bearer with a rank within the peerage or nobility of Scotland or England. The Scottish barony titles can either be bought in one’s own right as a single owner, or on a shared basis, i.e. co-ownership of shares within a lordship or manor. The purchase prices range from approximately $ 1,000.00 to approximately $ 120,000.00 and are on a first come first serve basis.

In 2004 for example, the title of Baron of MacDonald was up for sale, along with the Knock Castle in Skye for $ 1.5 million. In this case, the single title bearer would then be considered to possess the lordship of Knock Castle. A similar lordship can be shared however, where the purchaser can obtain the title of Baron for a much lesser sum. Being that there is a limited number of lordships to claim (as such titles were once connected to the “free barony’s” territory, the scarcity of land dictates the number of titles to claim, as well as the value and worth of said titles.

British royalty directly linked to German royalty … Monday, Sep 8 2008 

Clues suggesting that British royalty are directly linked to German royalty …

by William Pherrel

It all began in the year of 1914 where Britain was at war with Germany. Anything German was undesirable, including the German name Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, which happened to be the name the British royal family at that time bore. We must remember, it was not unusual for royal families in Europe to intermarry and thereby carry the bloodlines and names from a foreign nation, especially for use as a political tool to build the dynasty’s territorial strength. One Austrian family in particular had boasted “Let others wage war; you, happy Austria, marry.”

Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany was a cousin of the British King, for example. To prove his loyalty to England, King George V declared on July 17, 1917, “all descendants in the male line of Queen Victoria, who are subjects of these realms, other than female descendants who marry or who have married, shall bear the name Windsor.” With that, he himself changed his name, that of his wife, Queen Mary and their children from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor (the name of which had been taken from one of his castles!)

The house of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha began with Queen Victoria’s marriage to the German Prince Albert of Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha in 1840 (who incidentally was responsible for introducing the German custom of setting up a Christmas tree at Christmas time). Her oldest daughter, Princess Royal Victoria, also married a German prince in 1858 and another daughter Princess Alice, married a German, Ludwig IV, Duke of Hesse and by Rhine. Consequently, King Edward VII (Queen Victoria’s son), was then the first and only King of England bearing the German name Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, who took the throne at 59 years of age when his mother died in 1901. Upon King Edward’s death in 1910, his son George Frederick Ernest Albert became king (King George V), who was later to rename himself and his entire line to Windsor.