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.