The term Sloane Ranger (often shortened to Sloane or less frequently Sloanie) refers to a stereotype in the United Kingdom of young, upper class or upper-middle-class people who share distinctive and common lifestyle traits. The term is a punning portmanteau of "Sloane Square", a location in Chelsea, London famed for the wealth of residents and frequenters, and the television Westerns character The Lone Ranger. Female Sloanes, especially those involved in equestrian activities, were often seen around London wearing Hermès or Liberty silk head scarves distinctively tied just below the mouth, masking much of the face, which gave added meaning to the "Lone Ranger" jest.
Initially the term "Sloane Ranger" was used mostly in reference to women, a particular archetype being Diana, Princess of Wales. However, the term now usually includes men. Male Sloanes have also been referred to as "Rahs" and "Hooray Henries". The term Sloane Ranger has similar related terms in other countries: in France they are called 'BCBG' (bon chic bon genre), while a near analogue in the United States is the preppy subculture.
The Official Sloane Ranger Handbook
Sloane Ranger, a commonplace term in 1980s London, was originally popularised by British writer Peter York and co-writer Ann Barr in the book Style Wars (1980), followed by The Official Sloane Ranger Handbook (1982) and its companion The Official Sloane Ranger Diary. The books were published by the British society-watcher magazine Harpers & Queen, for whom Peter York was Style Editor and "was responsible for identifying the cult phenomena of "Sloane Rangers" and "Foodies".
The exemplar female Sloane Ranger was considered to be Lady Diana Spencer before marrying the Prince of Wales, when she was an aristocrat from the Spencer family. However, most Sloanes were not aristocrats as Lady Diana was. Considered typical of SRs was patriotism and traditionalism, and a belief in the values of upper class and upper-middle class culture, confidence in themselves and their given places in the world, a fondness for life in the countryside, country sports in particular, philistinism and anti-intellectualism. The title of the Sloane Ranger handbook lists the subheading "the problem of Hampstead", in reference to the stereotypical Sloane Ranger's supposed antipathy to the champagne socialist stereotype of the Hampstead liberal.
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However, not all 1980s Sloanes liked country sports — Diana herself hated them, and not all were philistine anti-intellectuals. The reason why a proud philistinism is emphasised is twofold: SRs, with their SR-based self-confidence were supposedly unembarrassed to admit disliking ballet, opera, modern art, and James Joyce; most public intellectuals of the 1970s and the 1980s were left-wing, hence aligning with left-wing intelligentsia cultural values would be anathema to staunchly Tory Sloanes. The typical male Sloane is satirised by the Harry Enfield character, Tim Nice-but-Dim.
Accent noticeably identified and separated the Sloane Ranger from the non-Sloane. Sloanes would share the same general accent traits whether they came from London, the Home Counties, Scotland, other parts of Britain, or even if educated abroad. Sloanes might use the same language as middle class non-Sloanes, but would speak with a region-neutral accent and received pronunciation.
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Although Sloanes are nowadays supposedly more widely spread and amorphous than in the past, they are still perceived to socialise in the expensive areas of west London, most notably Kings Road, Fulham Road, Kensington High Street, and other areas of Kensington, Chelsea and Fulham. The pubs and nightclubs in these areas are popular with Sloanes, in particular the White Horse pub, known as the "Sloaney Pony" in Fulham, and the Admiral Codrington, known as "The Cod", in Chelsea.
Young Sloanes aspire to attend the ancient universities of Oxford and Cambridge, or the University of London, which have a reputation for upper class attendance. A number of other universities, however, have established reputations as havens for Sloanes, notably St Andrew's, Nottingham, Durham, Edinburgh, Exeter, Bristol, Newcastle and more recently Warwick.
Typically male Sloane careers include banking, finance, the armed forces, chartered surveyors or journalism. Women have often worked as secretaries or in fashion and retired when they had children.
The following people have been considered as past and current Sloanes:
- Jemima Khan
- James Hewitt, Army Officer and lover of Diana, Princess of Wales
- Tara Palmer-Tomkinson
- Diana, Princess of Wales
- Trinny and Susannah
- Sienna Miller
- The Duchess of Cambridge
- Sarah, Duchess of York
- Hooray Henry
- Rah (slang)
- Trixie (slang)
- American prep
- Sloane Square
- Sloane Street
- Kings Road
- Young fogey
- Bourgeois personality (antithesis)
- Upper Class Twit of the Year (parody)
- "ON THE TRAIL OF LONDON'S SLOANE RANGERS". The New York Times. 25 March 1984.
- "Harpers & Queen Timeline"[dead link], The National Magazine Company, 2006.
- Slot, Owen (2 January 1994). "Same Sloanes, new Range: Ten years after their handbook was a bestseller, Owen Slot finds Caroline and Henry are still doing OK, Yah". The Independent. Retrieved 20 December 2011.
- Armstrong, Lisa (19 January 2007). "Just don't say yah... OK?". Times Newspapers Ltd. pp. Section 2 pp4–5. Retrieved 19 January 2006.
- "Sloane Rangers adapt to survive". Telegraph. 2007-10-18. Retrieved 2013-07-08.
- "Hooray, Henry, the Sloane tribe is back". theage.com.au. 2002-10-07. Retrieved 2013-07-08.
- "Kate Middleton and the rise of the Sloane Ranger". Telegraph. Retrieved 2013-07-08.
- Mount, Harry (2010-05-23). "Sarah Ferguson: the Sloane that time forgot – Telegraph Blogs". Blogs.telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-07-08.