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Re: Qualifying rank - PS
User logged in as Chequer
Assuming that Serene Highness ranks above Highness is a common error, possibly because "Highness" is qualified by an adjective 'Serene". However, looking at the original German, the difference is clear. "Highness" is "Hoheit" but the word translated into English as "Serene Highness" is "Durchlaucht", which literally means "above illustrious" - nothing to do with "highness" at all.
As a postscript - Counts of the HRE were styled "Erlaucht", that is illustrious. For some strange reason it was given in English as "Illustrious Highness"i It would have been less confusing if Erlaucht had been given as just "Illustrious" and Durchlaucht as "Mlost Illustrious"; then it would have plain just who really was a Highness "Hoheit".