➤ A person of the highest eminence or high rank in Spain or Portugal
➣ "With humor, reasonableness, and a touch of sarcasm, [President Obama] invited the Republican grandees in the audience to play the role of straight man, so to speak, and they obliged: row upon row of pale, middle-aged white men, unmoving and unmoved, frowning or smirking at every Presidential request for cooperation.—Hendrik Hertzberg. "Sparrin' Words," The Talk of the Town, The New Yorker, Feb. 8, 2010.
➣ "His name was Bernie Madoff, a former chairman of NASDAQ and an industry grandee." — "Prophets of the financial crisis," Economist, March 18, 2010.
➣ "The Planet Mars..hath been reckoned one of the Grandees in Aetherial Regions." 1686 Goad, Celest. Bodies II. iv. 194 —OED——————————————————————
The title appears first to have been assumed during the late Middle Ages by certain of the ricos hombres, or powerful magnates of the realm, who had by then acquired vast influence and considerable privileges, including one—that of wearing a hat in the king’s presence—which later became characteristic of the dignity of grandee. —The Encyclopaedia Britannica [EB]
[B]y the early 17th century the grandees of Spain had been divided into three classes: those who spoke to the king and received his reply with their heads covered; those who addressed him uncovered but put on their hats to hear his answer; and those who awaited the permission of the king before covering themselves.—EB
Use of the informal direct address did not help warm these Republican grandees into accepting the President's ideas. Their "No we won't!" minds had been locked in cold storage long before the conference.
From left, John Boehner, House minority leader, Eric Cantor, House minority leader, and Representative Mike Pence listened to President Obama speak at a Republican retreat in Baltimore, February 2010.