I hold a number of inherent noble titles, the highest of which being the title of Count of the Russian Empire. These titles are still internationally recognised even though The Russian Empire is no longer in existence.
I am a UK citizen being born within the UK and having lived there for most of my life. I do actively use my title and have had it recognised in a number of different formats by UK government agency’s, however there is always some confusion as to the manner in which I should be formally addressed within the UK. My primary title carries the styling of His Illustrious Highness (HILLH) but as I am sure you can guess this can course some confusion within the UK.
I was wondering if there is any formal style and manner of address for nobles within the UK who hold foreign titles, such as Count. Ideally anything specifically related to The Russian Empire.
If you do know of any such styling then I would be very grateful to hear from you.
— HILLH the Count Nicholas Chernoff, BSc (Hons), FdSce, London
I wasn’t sure the correct salutation to use!
So, while I don’t have an answer for you, I do have some comments. My point of view is formal, official point of view, and definitely … an American one.
There’s a tradition in forms of address to address by rank … so your personal rank will be differently considered in various places.
1) With the current government there are formal diplomatic relations with the current Russian Federation … but none with the former Russian Empire.
So, at The White House you couldn’t be officially received as Russian nobility with its implied link to an Imperial Russian head of state.
You would be received and addressed in the manner appropriate for your official participation at the event.
Your personal rank would be very interesting to everyone as personal history. We don’t have nobility in the US, but many people are descendants of our founders …. and those are relationships of great personal pride to the individual. Maybe it’s not exactly parallel, but members of The Daughters of the American Revolution or The Order of Cincinnatti have rank and precedence at their own events, but they receive neither preferential treatment nor special forms of address in official government situations.
2) In any social situation you should present your name exactly how you want to … and others should follow your preference. An agency of the British government could use your name — however you present it — without validating it to be anything more that what you say your name is. If an official British government agency addresses you as a count, it doesn’t imply you are other than a commoner and British citizen … Right?
3) His Illustrious Highness isn’t a courtesy title used in the British nobility … and from my experience, rightly or wrongly, most international protocol officers tend to use the British forms with addressing all nobility in English.
E.g., the King of Thailand is addressed as “Your Majesty” in English even though the actual phrase is different if translated directly from Thai.
I recently encountered a Polish baroness who requested to be addressed as “Your Imperial Highness.” To me it was a big grand for a baroness since in English we’d use that courtesy title for an Emperor or Empress …. but I called her “Your Imperial Highness.” It’s not my place to tell her what her name is.
4) I think we have more than one persona, and each has a different name. We just need to present the correct version for the individual situation.
You are probably in different situations Nick, Nicholas, Mr. Chernoff, and HILLH the Count …..
Direct others how they should address you and generally they will follow your preference.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info
As you already stated it very much depends on the situation and the people I am conversing with.
In regards to most of my financial dealings I tend to use Lord or Mr.. Lord tends to be the only noble option given other then Sir and Mr because if you have ever tried to order anything online you will understand how rare it is to ever find a title drop-down box with anything in it for males other then Mr and Dr.
As I work within mainland Europe a lot and spend a lot of time within Norway, France, Austria, Italy, and Germany I tend to use the style of Count with my work dealings as this is more recognised upon the European continent.
I have at certain times used the following styles depending on the situation:
His High Ancestry
His Illustrious Highness
While I am happy with the use of the title of Lord as it is used in England to draw together most levels of the nobility I am weary of using the style of an Earl within England which would be The Right Honourable. My reservations come from the fact that most members of the House of Lord’s within the UK hold the style of The Rt Hon and I do not wish to bread extra confusion in the matter of make anyone believe that I am claiming to be part of the UK political system, which I am not.
I also hold a feudal Scottish title of Laird. The styling is The Much Honoured however this styling tends to depict a title well below the rank of Count. I also feel that this title has been somewhat devalued within recent years after it became legal to sell feudal Scottish titles.
As with many old European noble titles, my title comes from a cascading noble system. This is important because I have an older brother, HILLH the Prince Simon Nicholas Chernoff, a father, HSH the Prince Nicholas John Chernoff, who both hold titles of a higher grade to me. There titles would be equivalent to Marquees and Duke respectively within the UK.
I believe this is important when taking into consideration to what style and title to use as I do not wish to breed confusion between myself and my brother or father. My father and brother both rarely use there titles however as people get extremely confused in England when you tell them your a Prince, a title retained within the United Kingdom for members of the royal family.
I am lucky that I live within the UK as under UK common law I am entitled to use any title or style of address that I see fit as long was it is not in any attempt to defraud people. While this means I could call myself anything, I do of course only wish to stick within the realms of titles I have legal claim to while at the same time making it easier for people to understand my family heritage without too much confusion.
Interestingly I did have the opportunity to spend some time in Moscow, Russia, last year. I was the first member of my family to return to Russia in 88 years after fleeing during the Russian revolution. While there I was addressed by Russian locals as Count Chernoff, a styling that they decided to use when addressing me in English as my Russian is pretty poor (foreign languages and Dyslexia are not a happy mix).
Therefore after deep consideration upon the matter I believe I will use the following titles and styles within the following situations:-
• Mr N Chernoff – some finance dealings such as when Lord is not offered and all dealings with the UK tax office
• Lord Chernoff – When in the UK in dealing with all people where the option is given. I will not however adopt the style of The Right Honourable or the title of Earl.
• Count Chernoff – Dealing with on the continent when dealing with foreign co-workers, clients and other such 3rd party’s
• HILLH the Count Nicholas Chernoff – For all formal situations
I believe by using the above styles and titles in the above stated situations I will stay firmly within the spirit of my inherent titles while reducing confusion when dealing with 3rd party’s.
— HILLH the Count Nicholas Chernoff, BSc (Hons), FdSce, London