Baroness in Her Own Right and Life Baroness

At present all peeresses in their own right are either countesses or baronesses. In the peerage of Scotland, the term Lady (ie Lady of Parliament) is the legal term of the fifth grade of peerage because the term "Baroness" is used in Scotland in a feudal sense relating to land tenure.

A countess in her own right is addressed in the same way as an earl's wife, but a baroness, whether hereditary or life, has the option of two alternatives, 'Baroness' or 'Lady'.

Since the Peerage Act 1963, and the growing numbers of female life peers, the use of the continental style of 'Baroness', both verbally and in writing, has become widespread. Most Baronesses in their own right, however, prefer to be styled 'Lady', and the same is true of a minority of Life Baronesses (for example Lady Thatcher).

How to address a baroness

The recommended (social) style of address is as follows:

Beginning of letter

Dear Lady Berkeley/Dear Baroness Berkeley

End of letter

Yours sincerely

Envelope

The Lady Berkeley or The Baroness Berkeley

Verbal communication

Lady Berkeley or Baroness Berkeley

Invitation* & joint form of address

Mr John Smith and The Lady Berkeley/The Baroness Berkeley

Description in conversation

Lady Berkeley or Baroness Berkeley

List of Directors or Patrons

The Lady Berkeley or The Baroness Berkeley

Place card

The Lady Berkeley or The Baroness Berkeley

Legal document

The Right Honourable Baroness Mary Jane Berkeley

*Note that, traditionally, invitations to a married couple, when sent to their home address, are addressed to the wife alone, with both names being inscribed on the invitation card. It has become increasingly acceptable, however, to address the envelope with both names.

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