How You Can Become A Scottish Lord In 10 Minutes Or Less
It’s the best $35 you’ll ever spend.
Meet my grandfather, Charles “Dusty” MacDonald of Traverse City, Michigan. Or now — thanks to me — “Lord Dustin Charles MacDonald of Glencoe, Scotland.” His ascent to the throne was similar to that of Mia Thermopolis — it was thrust upon him on his birthday at a time when he had no prior knowledge of his royal history of any kind.
With a name like MacDonald, there was no doubt about my family’s ancestry: MacDonald is as Scottish as they come. My great-great-great grandfather likely immigrated to the US in the late 19th century. But my family still knows the austere black-white-and-red MacDonald tartan pattern well — we wore it every summer at the Highland Festival in Alma, Michigan while we danced to bagpipes and watched brawny men in kilts compete in log-throwing competitions:
Now it’s been ages since I’ve pranced around a kilt, but when a friend told me about a nature-conservation organization that offered to make a “Lord” of anyone who sponsored a small plot of land, I jumped at the chance. I needed a gift for my grandpa’s 72nd birthday — and this would be the perfect thing.
Here’s how it works: You go to the organization’s website, Highland Titles, and choose a plot of land on a Scottish nature reserve. Sizes range from 1 to 100 square feet. When you hand over your $35 (that’s for the 1-footer — a 100-square-foot plot costs $600) you’re investing in the continued conservation of the Scottish Highlands while also earning yourself the title of Lord or Lady. Now that’s a win-win, if I’ve ever heard one.
Now, do you legally own the right to this land? Can you go build a one-square-foot wide castle on it? No, and all the legal jargon is laid out here if you’re curious. But the TL;DR of it is that Highland Titles legally owns the land — not you. What you’re buying is a souvenir plot.
However, the purchase of the land entitles you to take a guided tour of your plot, plant a tree or a flag there, and to pass it down to future generations. It also legally allows you to style yourself with the courtesy title of Laird (a general term for landowner), Lord or Lady.
So can you waltz into Edinburgh and expect to be treated like a royal? No. But in the same way you can buy a star for a loved one, the gesture — and the personally engraved ball-point pen it comes with — is still very real.