Friday, 24 August 2012


Are Noble Proofs Relevant?

The first question that arises when the subject of noble proofs is discussed is whether such a concept can be sustained in the present era. Critics may describe the classes and offices reserved to those who can prove nobility as anachronistic in modern, egalitarian, meritocratic and democratic societies. They may say that these privileges are not even justifiable on social grounds as the nobility no longer plays any significant leadership role in society and is rarely to be found even among a nation’s wealthiest citizens. Nobility of birth, it may be pointed out, generally counts for little in modern society although nobles may be disproportionately the subject of gossip columns; but even there have been largely displaced by “celebrities.” It is a fact that no country today recognises the existence of a privileged noble class and that only Belgium and Spain still regularly confer hereditary titles upon their citizens. The United Kingdom sovereign still confers titles on members of the royal family, and did so uniquely on several retired politicians in certain unique cases in the 1980s and early 1990s, but this practice shows no signs of being reinstated; in the Netherlands titles are only conferred on members of the Sovereign’s family. The question may also be asked why, when every Christian state confers equal rights on men and women, should an exclusive paternal proof be required – especially when, for example, Spain has altered its law to give equality to each gender in the succession to titles.  It may even be claimed that the noble character confers a negative impression on many who might otherwise be well disposed towards the Order, including some within the upper reaches of the Ecclesiastical hierarchy.

It is important, therefore, to be able to respond to these criticisms and to provide coherent answers why noble proofs should continue to be required. Consideration may then be given to whether the present system should be reformed or amended. Those who consider the maintenance of nobiliary proofs an essential characteristic of the Order must be reassured that this tradition will be firmly maintained; those who oppose the requirement to prove nobility should be accorded, perhaps, a reform that they can support.

No comments:

Post a Comment