The history of the Palmeran nobility is a long one which began far before the Cat Empire's vassalage to Spain in 1569, however it is one of perpetual transformations despite what the pomp of ceremony and tradition may superficially imply for the world "nobility."
Nobility did exist prior to unification around the island, but the Tohorinese State/ the City of Tamanshan purposely destroyed most records related to their vanquished rivals' lineages between the 10th and 13th Century to re-write history as they saw it fit and claim land ownership of defeated lands. The military aristocracy largely responsible for the City's dominion over the whole of the island, Hai-Beiji, or "Exalted Lineages", 201 families that were the hereditary peerage of the Tohorinese Empire and took their place as a ruling class that dominated the Imperial Court in Tamanshan.
All the families basically formed part of a "Warrior House", that is, the aristocrats were all military leaders. Actually leading a country came to be a greater challenge than conquering a country.
Very shortly, a division between the families....
Indirect Rule: The Empire's Blade
A large amount of the original 201 families became inter-twined through marriage with the newcomers to gain familiarity with the newcomers, and many of the Spanish Hidalgos, or Lords, found the prospects of marrying to gain tracts of land enticing. Unlike Mexico or Perú, intermixing tended to be limited to the 16th and 17th Century for a while as the majority of administration was still left in native hands through the Non-Divinity Declaration's clauses though the local ruling families still had to respond to Spanish advisers and higher-ranking administrations, and all ranks, except those of the Exalted Figure and their retainers, were considered to be lower than that of the Western Duke.
The retainer family, could afford to be more direct in its dealings with the Spanish governors and the handful of bureaucrats and advisers, and the Exalted Figure had the power to mediate disputes, though these could be easily overturned by the King of Spain. As a result, much of the intrigue of the Colonial Period consisted of tip-toe maneuvers and non-violent intrigue over who'd educate the next Exalted Figure and how much: Western advisers, priests from whichever order, or the local retainers?
Everybody else that had a lower rank eventually resigned themselves to keeping whatever past glory they had by entering the military, either in desk jobs or in active service.
By the 18th and 19th century the Spanish Empire saw the majority of its power weakened by its rival countries -Great Britain and France- it also saw many of its "Mainland" colonies in America being influenced by the republican ideologies of the recently independent United States. In an effort to strengthen its holdings, the Spanish Crown decided to grant titles of nobility to much of the colonial aristocracy in the Palmeran Islands. This bestowing of royal grace made the recipients loyal to the Spanish Crown and the Imperial Emissary under Spain's tutelage, and supposedly far more assimilated to the Iberian titled nobility. No other Spanish colony received as many grants of noble titles as the Palmeran Isles, not as a jewel of the Spanish Empire, but its enforcing blade.
The rank system from most to least status went as followed, practically copied from the Spanish system:
Many nobles, new and old, of administrative persuasion rose in rank, as did the old -but mostly low ranked- petty military aristocracy. The two groups were opposites; the "Civil Nobles" rose quickly and were mostly ethnically either Spanish creoles or other European-descended immigrants. The Militarists" was ever-present since the 16th Century but they were bogged down by a glass ceiling previously- most were ethnic neko or mixed-race human-neko whose traditions were occasionally more in line with the old Cat Empire's customs even after centuries of some degree of Westernization.
The political projects of these two distinct groups were just as opposite: the "Civilians" favored an investment in the cities to kickstart more services. They wanted to attract investment through building things and creating services; the Palmeran "civilians" had always attempted to create a second Paris or Madrid in its main cities. Elegant, rich decorated manors, governmental buildings, opera houses, play houses, palaces, etc. were all to cover the streets of the capital of La Habana. In the long term, this group wanted to solidify Las Palmeras as a financial and agricultural hub for Spain and for friendly Euro-American clients. This group was fairly europhilic and was open to more democratic and liberal ideas (for the wealthy white minority) in theory.
The "Militarists" also championed industry and capitalism, though as a means to fund potential war efforts; which they were re-structuring and re-arming as they perpetually begged Spain to re-modernize its Navy, which would soon become obsolete by the mid-1870s. In long-term geopolitics, they envisioned a preventative and decisive naval attack against the CSA or the USA and the annexation of the Panama region for more direct access to the Asia-Pacific region -and the Philippines in specific- all to be administered though the old Cat Empire's capitol in Tamanshan alongside the Exalted Figure. This group was culturally conservative and dogmatically traditionalist, and it only occasionally responded to Madrid.
This move was intentional by part of the Spanish, who bet that even if Las Palmeras tried to rebel that the "civilians" and the "militarists" would destroy each-other first or be bogged up in debates to effectively rule, making Las Palmeras more open to direct Spanish rule than ever.
The initial winners of the rivalry -in the eyes of the general populace- were the "Militarists", whose fears were confirmed in 1898 amidst the Spanish-American War. Apart from the fact the masses identified with them ethnically and not the mostly European "Civilians", the defeat of the USA in the Home Island was seen as an achievement of the "Militarists" -who after installing a bloodless coup 'in the name of the Crown under the Spanish Crown's Tutelage' to direct the war effort- briefly prolonged their autonomous interim government. Worse still, the war had killed the former-imperial retainers, and the traditional native system, was left without its strong base of support and open to being absorbed by the European "foreigners".
After the costly victory that was the Tohorinese-American War (1898-1901), the weakened Military factions, and the Navy in particular, were sobered up to accept the fact that Las Palmeras was far too small to win a long-term war of attrition and many overseas ambitions were culled as the creole "Civilians" won public support even among the ethnic Tohorinese majority and within the provisional government which now had the Navy in it's hands. With it came some degree of de-politization of the nascent armed forces even if they were still overwhelmingly formed by the mixed-race nobility, whom were no longer the loose cannon they used to be. However, in the face of rising ethno-nationalism and a growing desire for independence, most of the Creoles felt compelled to either cater to the culturally native majority as to not lag behind the diminished "Militarist" families, even if actually admitting this took a good while.
The Interwar Years
For a while, directly after independence Las Palmeras was originally a Duchy, until the recently-formed Upper House and a fourth of the Lower House approved of the coronation of (...), a move made to legitimize...
The problem, once again, was that the former-militarists once again felt snubbed and hit with a glass ceiling in their own home, and now legally tied with their hands behind their backs. The only thing that probably saved the Creole minority from a coup was the rising surge in anti-communism during the 3rd Internationale and the militarists' own sense of self-preservation, even if republicanism among the general population against the "White Crown" (a pun on the Ethnic extract of the Royal Family) slowly began to rise throughout the decades; this process hastened after both a humiliating loss of shipping during the First World War and the economic fallout of the Great Depression, when many shrinking noble families simply couldn't pay for their titles and/or had to sell off many of their estates, including the Royal Family itself.
Ironically, it was the ethnically Tohorinese ex-nobility that would get the better of it in the end: forming cooperative families, some ex-military barons used what little they had to venture and make the "tools of the trade" during the re-armament during the Inter-War years. Most of these new commoners failed, but a few would succeed and soar into the sky. Among these were the (now giant) Shinahari Colgomerate, founded by over six different families, whom got into the radio-making business for cars and airplanes and quickly moved onto making cars and airplanes themselves; or the Tariashuri Group, a company that crept into the cement and steel refinery business when it came to contracting, both in civilian and military purposes; or others, like Menae and Sheru Co., the Velko Company, etc.
In contrast to the honorable "Princes of Industry and Innovation", a few other deposed families also had to innovate, and in desperation, turned to make a profit in the Island's underbelly. Taking advantage of old connections, families like the Nahi-Sanchez in the northern city Port of Haaké and the Khapo Clan to the south took to catering to Europe and America's vices and used the Home Island's geographic advantage as a trade node in the Atlantic to smuggle liquor during the Prohibition, and later, narcotics: the end result being the rise of the Haaké and Khapo Cartels, the "Cocaine Counts" of today. Along with them, a breed of criminals who dabble between legality and illegality when it comes to playing the stock market.
The Monarchy Today
The traditional landowning class...
...families of disgraced military aristocrats have re-gained status at the price of being more of an amorphous blob of inheritable conglomerates with interlocking business relationships