THOUSANDS of tourists paying for the right to call themselves, Lord, Lady or Laird have forced Scots authorities to announce that their titles have no legal status.
For years, visitors to Scotland have been buying tiny plots of land in the Highlands from companies who offer them a title in return.
It’s estimated that over 100,000 people from all over the world have bought as little as 1 sq ft of land in order to add their ‘lord’, ‘lady’ or ‘laird’ titles to their debit or credit cards.
Now, the Court of the Lord Lyon – the heraldry office for Scotland – has stepped in to say that any dubious ‘lord’ or ‘lady’ who try to register for a coat of arms faces rejection.
Due to the increased influx of applications, the heraldic officials have been forced to reiterate that anyone who wants to be granted a title must be well-deserving and have Scotland has their permanent home.
On its website, the Court state: “The ownership of souvenir plots of land of a few square feet or thereby is insufficient to bring anyone within the jurisdiction of the Lord Lyon King of Arms.”
Elizabeth Roads, the Lyon clerk and keeper of the records, was keen to make sure that anyone who wasn’t genuinely deserving of petitioning for a grant of arms didn’t enter the process.
She said: “The point is that these plots are too small to be recorded in the land register and thus someone donating to the organisation concerned in return for ‘possession’ of a souvenir plot is not a legal owner of land in Scotland.”
The Court of the Lord Lyon reiterated that the titles awarded had no legal worth.
A spokesman said: “The term ‘laird’ has generally been applied to the owner of an estate in Scotland, sometimes by the owner himself or, more commonly, by those living and working on the estate.
“It is a description rather than a title and is not appropriate for the owner of a normal residential property, far less the owner of a small souvenir plot of land.
“It goes without saying that the term ‘laird’ is synonymous with that of ‘lord’ or ‘lady’.”
Amanda McLean, who lives in Buselton, Western Australia, feels that buying a tiny bit of Scottish land has improved her life.
She said: “I use it when I check into a hotel. It’s amazing the cachet it has. You get upgraded and treated very well.
“I also have the name on my credit card and people call me Lady Amanda.”
A spokesman for Highland Titles, a company which has sold thousands of plots, insisted that they hadn’t misled their customers.
He said: “In Scotland anyone can, subject to requirements of good faith, call themselves whatever they like, including ‘laird’, ‘lord’ or ‘lady’.