I burned through Bridgerton, romance novel on the screen, and I’m still hung up on the Duke and Duchess’s title: Your Grace. It’s striking that it’s not gendered, that men and women carry that grace. No Mr. and Mrs. In the plural, people refer to them as Your Graces.
As soon as our heroine Daphne marries the duke, she acquires the title, but the duke has carried it since birth, I believe. So there’s none of the age marking that comes with Mr. and Mrs. either. The title is not about the marriage, man and wife, but about the station.
There is a high to low element in the address. According to the website Edwardian Promenade,
An English duke should be addressed as “Duke” by the aristocracy and gentry, and not as “Your Grace” by members of either of these classes. All other classes should address him colloquially as “Your Grace.”
An English duchess should be addressed as “Duchess” by all persons conversing with her belonging to the upper classes, and as “Your Grace” by all other classes.
That seems not to be the case in Bridgerton, where almost everyone seems to call the Duke and Duchess of Hastings Your Grace except when referring to them in the third person. They sometimes refer to each other as Your Grace, too, apparently not with the wink-wink of those awkward married couples with ruffled aprons and plaid slippers who call each other Mr. and Mrs. or Mother and Father. The shared title of grace gives a sense of their shared position–and gives them a breather from the incredibly intimate use of first names.
I wonder how it feels to be called Your Grace. Does it make you feel as if you have some to possess or some to dispense? Does it constantly remind you to rise to your best self? Mom has some of that effect on me.
You just don’t want Americans to get their hands on titles. Next thing you’d know there’d be a port-o-potty labeled Your Grace in pink and blue.