Jean Broke-Smith: Titles open doors. You can see why they want to keep them

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The Independent Online

The advantages of having a title in the 21st century can perhaps be overstated.

But it certainly does not hinder one in everyday life, and there are many instances of where it may help in putting the holder just slightly ahead of those without titles.

I'm sure it might make the difference in getting one of the best tables in a fashionable London restaurant. If you ring up giving your name as Lord Jones you might just get the table that would have been denied to plain James Jones.

In social events it might also help you to open doors, giving the holder that tiny edge that a title can provide. There also is no doubt that it provides an advantage when it comes to applying for membership of a Whitehall club.

Of course, if you are putting a son or daughter's name down for an exclusive public school, the cachet of a title could help – as long as the child has at least some of the brains to back it up.

Until recently, a peerage would provide a real lift in the world of business, smoothing progress to well-paid boardroom jobs. In today's parlous financial position, that probably no longer applies. Sadly, straitened times affect everyone equally, leaving little room for for sentiment in the case of a title-holder.

The one real exception is in doing business abroad. The Americans in particular love anything to do with Britain. I have found my double-barrelled name really makes an impression on the other side of the Atlantic, so I can only imagine they would be bowled over by a title. They would probably think that a peer is related to the Queen!

Jean Broke-Smith is an etiquette expert and former principal of the Lucie Clayton school of grooming