Aristocratic women also have equal rights

When I was writing about the exhibition “Titian: Love, Desire, and Death” last year, I mentioned that the two most famous paintings in the series of “Poetry” by Titian were bought by the Duke of Bridgewater in 1798, and this It created a precedent for aristocrats to exhibit privately owned artworks to the public. After the death of the Duke of Bridgewater, the two paintings were passed on to the Duke of Sutherland, and they have been attributed to the Duke of Sutherland until 2008, when they were purchased by the National Gallery of Scotland and the National Gallery of England.

While studying this history, I discovered that this family also has a magical Countess of Sutherland. Elizabeth Sutherland (Elizabeth Sutherland) was born in 1921, the daughter of the youngest son of the Fourth Duke of Sutherland. Her parents died when she was ten years old. Since then, she has been under the custody of her uncle and the Fifth Duke of Sutherland. In 1963, the fifth Duke of Sutherland died, leaving no offspring, so there was a problem of heirs.

Elizabeth Sutherland is his only niece, so it should be the most suitable heir, but in most cases the title of the British aristocracy is passed on from male to female, so the title of the duke plus most of the property can only be passed on to one. Distant relatives. This makes people think of the plot of the first season of “Downton Abbey”, and the appearance of “Big Cousin” in the play is for this reason.

However, Elizabeth Sutherland had better luck. The fourth Duke of Sutherland also had the title of Earl of Sutherland. This is a long-established Scottish noble title that can be passed on to daughters. So she got the 24th Duke of Sutherland. The title of Countess of Sutherland (Countessof Sutherland) and inherited the fief, including Dunrobin Castle in the Scottish Highlands.

Elizabeth Sutherland is very active herself. She is proficient in Italian. During World War II, she first farmed at Dunrobin Castle and then worked in a hospital in Scotland. After the war, she married a British journalist. After inheriting the title, she did her best to manage the territory and opened Dunrobin Castle to the outside world, making it a very popular tourist attraction. She later officially became the leader of the Sutherland clan (clan). Of course, the clan system in Scotland has long been abolished, and the activities related to the clan are mainly used for networking and assisting in cultural inheritance. She died at the age of 98 and was very much loved.

A recent report in the American “Atlantic” magazine reminded me of Elizabeth, Countess of Sutherland. Relatively speaking, among the aristocratic women in Britain, she is very lucky, because the titles that can pass women are extremely limited. There are more than 800 noble titles in the UK, and there are more than 1,000 “baronet” (baronet), but less than 90 of them are allowed to pass on daughters. The British throne can be passed on to women, but until 2011, men have priority. If the current queen has a brother, the throne will not be hers.

“The Atlantic” report is about a group of aristocratic women who were deprived of inheritance rights because of their gender, fighting for their rights. Their actions also have a resounding name “Daughters Rights” (Daughters Rights), trying to change the status quo through parliament and legal channels. However, on the one hand, they worry about not getting the support of mainstream feminist movements, on the other hand, they worry that the government thinks they are troublesome, so they are cautious and progress is slow.

All this seems to have nothing to do with ordinary people, but in fact, titles only pass on the rules of men, not just aristocratic family affairs, because the British House of Lords, after the reform under the auspices of the Blair government, still has 92 seats reserved for hereditary aristocrats. The House of Lords has no legislative power, but it can exert influence on government policies. Currently, all 92 members of the House of Lords are men.

There are still many inequalities in British society, both overt and covert. Although the “daughter rights” claim to be “aristocratic women’s rights”, their actions do promote social equality at a certain level, so they are still worthy of support.