FLORIDA, November 27, 2012 — They say that every homeowner is the monarch of his or her own castle.
Some people take it a bit further than that, though.
For centuries on end, the well-to-do have purchased titles of nobility from aristocrats willing to sell them. Over the last few decades, however, a booming industry has grown out of this. Today, one can log on to the Internet and find no shortage of websites selling extravagant titles anywhere from a couple of dollars to astronomical sums.
Needless to say, a great deal of said websites are fraudulent.
This has been of particular concern to Richard Bridgeman, who is the seventh Earl of Bradford. Aside from being a peer and a successful restaurateur, he is at the forefront of spotting the scams and schemes that plague the world of nobility-for-profit.
In a detailed discussion, he explains why people fall for the allure of fake titles, how legitimate titles might be purchased, whether or not buying a title is a good idea in the first place, and much more.
Joseph F. Cotto: Noble titles can easily be found for sale online. In your experience, are most of these legitimate?
Richard Bridgeman, 7th Earl of Bradford: No, the vast majority are complete scams.
Cotto: One would imagine that selling a fraudulent noble title would be especially difficult as historical records can clearly disprove the claims of tricksters. Is this actually the case?
People are so anxious to believe that they do not carry out sensible checks.
Cotto: From your standpoint, has the Information Age worsened the problem of fraudulent noble title sales?
Lord Bradford: Yes, it has made it far worse; people tend to believe what they are told on the Internet.
Cotto: Have you found a reason that an untold number of people are fooled into purchasing fake noble titles? Is this simply a matter of deceptive sales tactics or something else entirely?
Lord Bradford: People seem to think that you can buy anything these days, and a remarkable number of people seem to believe that a title gets you special privileges, like upgrades, and the sites tend to peddle this line, leading to terrible behavior from people who have no right to expect special treatment.
Cotto: What are the valid avenues through which a noble title can be purchased today?
Lord Bradford: You cannot buy a peerage title, but you can purchase a Scottish Feudal Barony, which are extremely expensive as they are genuine; however, a lot of sites pretend that an English Lordship of the Manor is a title, when it isn’t, and you cannot put Lord in front of your name if you buy one.
Cotto: Generally speaking, would you recommend the idea of buying a noble title, even in if it is legitimate? Why or why not?
Lord Bradford: Why pretend to be something that you aren’t? Titles were awarded for a reason in the past and still are. However, it seems that most people are buying them for the wrong reasons, which is a shame, as a genuinely titled person would never have expectations of being treated differently.
Cotto: Despite the fact that our global society has become far more democratized in recent centuries, the idea of nobility still generates tremendous interest. In your opinion, what is the contemporary appeal of nobility?
Lord Bradford: There seems to be a strange belief that it makes out somebody grand and that you can capitalize on that, rather sad really.
Cotto: During the years ahead, do you expect public interest in nobility to wane? Or might it do the exact opposite?
Lord Bradford: It doesn’t seem to be waning. However, possibly as people discover they are mostly scams that promise to sell you a title, then maybe it will. The daftest ones are the so-called Scottish Lairdships, which sell you a square foot of land and then state that it makes you a Laird, which is the same as an English Lord or Lady, which they sell for less than $50, and really should be exposed as a complete con.
Cotto: What inspired you to take such an active role in raising awareness about the sale of fake noble titles?
Lord Bradford: When someone was passing himself off as Lord Newport, which is my son’s courtesy title.
Cotto: Now that our discussion is at its end, many readers are probably wondering about your life and career. What is it like to be a twenty-first century nobleman?
Lord Bradford: Very normal. My wife and I live in a house in Chiswick, a suburb of London. I am a restaurateur and she is a consultant obstetrician. We don’t have a grand house any longer, thanks to the death duties levied after my father died, aged only 69 in 1981.
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