Who’s who. There are five levels of hereditary peer that make up the aristocracy in Britain. Each has its own special ceremonial costume, and a specially decorated crown, which peers are entitled to wear on special occasions, such as a coronation or at the official opening of Parliament.
Duke. This is the highest rank in the peerage as well as the rarest title. In this century, the title has only been given to members of the Royal Family. The wife of a duke is a duchess.
Earl. This is one of the oldest titles and comes from the ancient word for chief. Two prominent prime ministers have been given the title this century. The wife of an earl is a countess.
Viscount. The first viscount was created in 1440, but the title has never been widely used. The wife of a viscount is a viscountess.
Baron. This is the lowest rank in the peerage and the most common title. All non-hereditary peers created today have the title baron or baroness