Difference Between Duke and Earl

Duke vs Earl

Duke and earl are ranks in nobility that has a hierarchy of sorts and people in America and many other parts of the world never seem to be fascinated by this nomenclature that creates privileged classes of people. Watching videos of royal weddings, one encounters Dukes, Earls, Barons, and Lords etc. that are confusing. This article attempts to find the differences between Duke and Earl, two ranks in the nobility system, in UK.


In nobility, a Duke has a very high rank just below the King or the Prince. Monarchs conferred the title of Duke upon those whom they considered as friends. These were people having a high social status and monetary influence. They were made rulers of provinces by Kings and were the highest ranking people among the peers of the Monarch. The territory ruled by a Duke was called Duchy. Sometimes, the title of Duke is given to the members of the Royal family also as is the case with Duke of York, Duke of Cambridge, and Duke of Lancaster, and so on. However, Dukes are mostly nobles and not royals. There are 28 dukedoms at present in Britain. When a Duke passes away without a heir, his title is taken back by the Royal family and given to someone new.


Earl is a title in the nobility that is lower in the hierarchy than a Duke. It is a rank just above Viscount and just below a Marquis. An Earl can be an Earl of (X) or he can be simply an Earl (X), indicating the origin of the title from the place of birth or from the title of the person. In medieval times, Kings needed money to raise armies for war efforts, and conferring tittles upon commoners was a good way to get the much needed revenue.

What is the difference between Duke and Earl?

• There is a hierarchy in British nobility where the Duke is a rank that is highest after the King or the Prince.

• An Earl is a lower rank in the nobility with a Viscount below an Earl and a Marquis above an Earl.

• The robes and coronets of Dukes are different from those of Earls.

• There are 28 dukedoms at present in British nobility.

• The wife of a Duke is called a Duchess while there is no official name for the wife of an Earl.