(No, this is not about any rumors concerning the Royals; it’s of more historical and legal nature.)
When you look at historical maps showing continental European countries during the feudal times, you see many countries are carved up into territories ruled by an aristocrat - there are duchies, counties, and the like, which together form a kingdom or empire. AFAIK those developed when the king or emperor gave parts of his country to loyal followers to administrate it, and then this administrative post became hereditary, and sometimes (Germany) the territories became quasi-independent states while other kingdoms (France) managed to secure the central monarch’s supreme authority.
So far, so good. But this scheme doesn’t seem to apply to England (I think it would be wrong to say Britain here, for AFAIK English and Scottish aristocracy developed separately). There are dukes and earls and barons and marquis, but never one sees a map marking their territories. I know the historical counties were abolished by some reform, and the modern administrative districts called “counties” have nothing at all to do with those; I also understand that nowadays the aristocracy has absolutely no political influence; yet one would suppose that at least formally, an aristocrat would have his territory mandated to him by the monarch. But the construction of some noble titles without any corresponding geographical name seems to indicate that English aristocrats simply have a funky title, but no land entailed to it which formally is theirs (I’ve never heard of a town or region named Marlborough, for instance). The fact that the monarch can knight people and give them a title that did not exist before (liek the Earl of Wessex thing) would support that - if every aristocrat had his territory, you’d have to redraw the boundaries whenever a new one comes up.
So all in all, I guess there’s not even a formal link between an aristocrat’s title and a territorial unit, and has not been for many centuries, but I am not sure about it. Any dopers who know more about this?
Oh, and btw, if you can recommend good books that give an overview over the legal and constitutional position of nobility in Britain, I’d appreciate any hint. Thanks!