Royal dukedoms in the United Kingdom

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In the British peerage, a royal duke is a duke who is a member of the British Royal Family, entitled to the style of His Royal Highness. Royal dukedoms are the highest titles in the British roll of peerage, they are titles created for legitimate sons and male line grandsons of the British monarch, usually upon reaching their majority or marriage.[1] The titles can be inherited but cease to be "royal" once they pass beyond the grandsons of a monarch, as with any peerage, once the title becomes extinct, it may subsequently be recreated by the reigning monarch at any time.

Royal status of dukedoms[edit]

In the United Kingdom, there is nothing intrinsic to any dukedom that makes it "royal". Rather, these peerages are called royal dukedoms because they are created for, and held by, a member of the royal family who is entitled to the style Royal Highness, although the term "royal duke" therefore has no official meaning per se, the category "Duke of the Blood Royal" was acknowledged as a rank conferring special precedence at court in the unrevoked 20th clause of the Lord Chamberlain's order of 1520.[2][3] This decree accorded precedence to any peer related by blood to the sovereign above all others of the same degree within the peerage, the order did not apply within Parliament, nor did it grant precedence above the Archbishop of Canterbury or other Great Officers of State such as is now enjoyed by royal dukes. But it placed junior "Dukes of the Blood Royal" above the most senior non-royal duke, junior "Earls of the Blood Royal" above the most senior non-royal earl (cf. Earldom of Wessex), etc. It did not matter how distantly related to the monarch the peers might be (presumably they ranked among each other in order of succession to the Crown), although the 1520 order is theoretically still in effect, in fact the "Blood Royal" clause seems to have fallen into desuetude by 1917 when George V limited the style of Royal Highness to children and male-line grandchildren of the Sovereign. Thus peers of the blood royal who are neither sons nor grandsons of a sovereign are no longer accorded precedence above other peers.

Under the 20 November 1917, letters patent of King George V, the titular dignity of Prince or Princess and the style Royal Highness are restricted to the legitimate children of a sovereign, the children of a sovereign's sons, and the eldest living son of the eldest son of a Prince of Wales.[a]

When the current Duke of Gloucester and Duke of Kent are succeeded by their eldest sons, the Earl of Ulster and the Earl of St. Andrews, respectively, those peerages (or rather, the 1928 and 1934 creations of them) will cease to be royal dukedoms, instead the title holders will become "ordinary" dukes,[5] the third dukes of Gloucester and Kent will each be styled "His Grace" because as great-grandsons of George V, they are not princes and are not styled HRH. Similarly, upon the death of Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught (1850–1942) (the third son of Queen Victoria), his only male-line grandson, Alastair, Earl of MacDuff (1914–43), briefly succeeded to his peerages and was styled "His Grace". Before the 1917 changes, his style and title had been His Highness Prince Alastair of Connaught.

Current royal dukedoms[edit]

The current royal dukedoms, held as principal titles, in order of precedence, are:

The following dukedoms are currently held as secondary titles by members of the royal family:

  • Duke of Cornwall is a secondary title of the Sovereign's eldest son in England,[1][8] currently held by Charles, Prince of Wales. In addition to the dukedom of Cornwall, a peerage, the heir apparent also enjoys a life interest in the Duchy of Cornwall.
  • Duke of Rothesay is a secondary title of the Sovereign's heir apparent in Scotland, currently held by Prince Charles,[1] who is properly called "HRH The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay" (rather than "HRH The Prince of Wales") while in Scotland.

With the exceptions of the dukedoms of Cornwall and Rothesay (which can only be held by the eldest living son of the sovereign who is also the heir-apparent), these dukedoms are hereditary according to the letters patent that created them.[1] Those patents each contain the standard remainder to "heirs male of his body".

By law the British monarch also holds, and is entitled to the revenues of, the Duchy of Lancaster. Within the borders of the County Palatine of Lancashire, therefore, Elizabeth II is hailed as "The Queen, The Duke of Lancaster" (even when the monarch is a Queen regnant, by tradition she does not use the title Duchess).[1] However, legally the monarch is not the Duke of Lancaster: peerages are in origin held feudally of the sovereign who, as the fount of honour, cannot hold a peerage of him- or herself. The situation is similar in the Channel Islands, where the monarch is addressed as Duke of Normandy, but only in accordance with tradition, he or she does not hold the legal title of Duke of Normandy.

Past royal dukedoms[edit]

The following past royal dukedoms are vacant, except those depicted in italics, which are suspended dukedoms, and those in parentheses, which were once royal but have become non-royal dukedoms.

Royal Dukedoms created since 1726[edit]

Coat of Arms Title Prince Date Created Notes

Royal Dukedoms created during the reign of King George I[edit]

Coat of Arms Title Prince Date Created Notes
Coat of Arms of the Hanoverian Princes of Wales (1714-1760).svg Duke of Edinburgh Prince Frederick 15 July 1726 Created Prince of Wales in 1729
Title Merged with Crown in 1760
Coat of Arms of William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland.svg Duke of Cumberland Prince William 15 July 1726 Extinct in 1765 [n 1]

Royal Dukedoms created during the reign of King George II[edit]

Coat of Arms of Edward Augustus, Duke of York and Albany.svg Duke of York and Albany Prince Edward 1 April 1760 Extinct in 1767 [n 1]

Royal Dukedoms created during the reign of King George III[edit]

Coat of Arms of William Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh.svg Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh Prince William Henry 17 November 1764 Title Extinct in 1834 [o 1]
HenryCumberlandStrathearnArms.png Duke of Cumberland and Strathearn Prince Henry 27 November 1784 Title Extinct in 1790 [n 1]
Coat of Arms of Frederick Augustus, Duke of York and Albany.svg Duke of York and Albany Prince Frederick 27 November 1784 Title Extinct in 1827 [n 1]
Coat of Arms of William Henry, Duke of Clarence.svg Duke of Clarence and St Andrews Prince William 19 May 1789 Title Merged with Crown in 1830
Coat of Arms of Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent and Strathearn.svg Duke of Kent and Strathearn Prince Edward 24 April 1799 Title Extinct in 1820 [n 1]
Coat of Arms of Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale.svg Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale Prince Ernest Augustus 24 April 1799 Title Deprived in 1919
Coat of Arms of Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex.svg Duke of Sussex Prince Augustus Frederick 27 November 1801 Title Extinct in 1843 [n 1]
Coat of Arms of Adolphus Frederick, Duke of Cambridge.svg Duke of Cambridge Prince Adolphus 27 November 1801 Title Extinct in 1904 [p 1]

Royal Dukedoms created during the reign of King George IV[edit]

George IV didn't create a Royal Dukedom

Royal Dukedoms created during the reign of King William IV[edit]

William IV didn't create a Royal Dukedom

Royal Dukedoms created during the reign of Queen Victoria[edit]

Coat of Arms Title Prince Date Created Notes
Coat of Arms of Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh.svg Duke of Edinburgh Prince Alfred 24 May 1866 Title Extinct in 1900 [n 1]
Coat of Arms of Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn.svg Duke of Connaught and Strathearn Prince Arthur 24 May 1874 Title Extinct in 1943 [q 1]
Coat of Arms of Leopold, Duke of Albany.svg Duke of Albany Prince Leopold 24 May 1881 Title Deprived in 1919
Coat of Arms of Albert, Duke of Clarence and Avondale.svg Duke of Clarence and Avondale Prince Albert Victor 24 May 1890 Title Extinct in 1892 [n 1]
Coat of Arms of George, Duke of York.svg Duke of York Prince George 24 May 1892 Created Prince of Wales in 1901

Royal Dukedoms created during the reign of King Edward VII[edit]

Edward VII didn't create a Royal Dukedom

Royal Dukedoms created during the reign of King George V[edit]

Coat of Arms Title Prince Date Created Notes
Coat of Arms of Albert, Duke of York.svg Duke of York Prince Albert 3 June 1920 Title Merged with the Crown in 1936
Coat of Arms of Henry, Duke of Gloucester.svg Duke of Gloucester Prince Henry 30 March 1928 Extant
Coat of Arms of George, Duke of Kent.svg Duke of Kent Prince George 9 October 1934 Extant

Royal Dukedoms created during the reign of King Edward VIII[edit]

Edward VIII didn't create a Royal Dukedom

Royal Dukedoms created during the reign of King George VI[edit]

Coat of Arms Title Prince Date Created Notes
Coat of Arms of Edward, Duke of Windsor.svg Duke of Windsor Prince Edward 8 March 1937 Title Extinct in 1972 [n 1]
Coat of Arms of Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.svg Duke of Edinburgh Philip Mountbatten 20 November 1947 Extant

Royal Dukedoms created during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II[edit]

Coat of Arms Title Prince Date Created Notes
Coat of Arms of Andrew, Duke of York.svg Duke of York Prince Andrew 23 July 1986 Extant
Coat of Arms of William, Duke of Cambridge.svg Duke of Cambridge Prince William 29 April 2011 Extant

Suspended dukedoms[edit]

The Dukedoms of Albany and Cumberland and Teviotdale are not vacant but were suspended in 1919, as their holders were also reigning German rulers when Britain was at war with Germany in World War I; there still exist heirs to these titles who could apply for their restoration.

The senior male line descendant of the last Duke of Albany is Prince Hubertus of Saxe Coburg Gotha (5th Duke in pretense).

The senior male line heir of the last Duke of Cumberland is Ernst August, Prince of Hanover (6th Duke in pretense), estranged husband of Princess Caroline of Monaco.

Forms of address[edit]

  • Address: His/Her Royal Highness The Duke/Duchess of (X)
  • Speak to as: Your Royal Highness
  • After: Sir/Madam

Coronet[edit]

While non-royal dukes are entitled to a coronet of eight strawberry leaves, to bear at a coronation and on his coat of arms, royal dukes are entitled to princely coronets (four crosses patée alternating with four strawberry leaves), the coronets of the royal family are dictated by letters patent. The Duke of York bears by letters patent, and the Duke of Edinburgh was granted in 1947 use of, the coronet of a child of the sovereign (four crosses patée alternating with four fleurs-de-lis), while the Duke of Cornwall and of Rothesay has use of the Prince of Wales Coronet, the Duke of Cambridge the coronet of a child of the heir-apparent and the current Dukes of Gloucester and of Kent, as grandsons of a sovereign bear the corresponding coronet.

At coronations, apart from the differentiation of princely coronets from ducal coronets, a royal duke is also entitled to six rows of ermine spots on his mantle, as opposed to the four rows borne by an "ordinary" duke.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Montgomery-Massingberd, Hugh, ed. (1973). "Appendix C: Titles Traditionally Associated with the Royal Family". Burke's Guide to the Royal Family. London: Burke's Peerage Ltd/Shaw Publishing Co. pp. 183, 336–337. ISBN 0-220-66222-3. 
  2. ^ Francois Velde. "Order of Precedence in England and Wales". Heraldica.org. Retrieved 2010-11-17. 
  3. ^ Squibb, G.D. (1981). "The Lord Chamberlain's Order of 1520, as amended in 1595". Order of Precedence in England and Wales. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press. pp. 99–101. 
  4. ^ "No. 38452". The London Gazette. 9 November 1948. p. 5889. 
  5. ^ Eilers, Marlene. Queen Victoria's Descendants. Rosvall Royal Books, Falkoping, Sweden, 1997. p. 45. ISBN 91-630-5964-9
  6. ^ "The Duke of Gloucester". The official website of the British Monarchy. 
  7. ^ "The Duke of Kent". Official website of the British Monarchy. 
  8. ^ "The Prince of Wales: styles and titles". 

Note[edit]

  1. ^ It will be seen that this rule would have meant that Prince Charles and Princess Anne would not, from birth, have had royal status or be called Prince and Princess, as they were the children of the daughter of the sovereign. So immediately prior to the birth of Princess Elizabeth's first child, King George VI issued letters patent dated 22 October 1948 declaring that Princess Elizabeth's children with Philip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh would take royal status and be called Prince or Princess from birth.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i He died without legitimate male heirs.
  1. ^ The 2nd Duke died without legitimate male heirs.
  1. ^ The 2nd Duke died with legitimate male heirs but under the Royal Marriages Act 1772 the marriage was not recognised under the law, if the marriage was recognised by law the title would of been extinct in 1960.
  1. ^ The 2nd Duke died without legitimate male heirs.

See also[edit]