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:

Dukedom Holder Year Created Subsidiary Titles
Duke of Edinburgh Prince Philip 1947 Earl of Merioneth
Baron Greenwich
Duke of Cambridge Prince William 2011 Earl of Strathearn
Baron Carrickfergus
Duke of York Prince Andrew 1986 Earl of Inverness
Baron Killyleagh
Duke of Gloucester Prince Richard[6] 1928 Earl of Ulster
Baron Culloden
Duke of Kent Prince Edward[7] 1934 Earl of St Andrews
Baron Downpatrick

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.

Former royal dukedoms[edit]

The following is a list of dukedoms previously created for members of the royal family, but which have subsequently merged in the crown, become extinct or have otherwise ceased to be royal dukedoms.

Extinct Dukedoms[edit]

Title Status Notes
Duke of Albemarle Deprived in 1399. Non-royal dukedom created in 1660 (extinct 1688); non-royal Earldom of Albemarle (created 1697) is extant.
Duke of Clarence[1] Forfiet in 1478.
Duke of Clarence and Avondale Extinct in 1892.
Duke of Clarence and St Andrews Merged in the crown in 1830. Earldom of St Andrews (created 1934) is a subsidiary title of the extant Dukedom of Kent.
Duke of Connaught and Strathearn[1] Extinct in 1942. Earldom of Strathearn (created 2011) is a subsidiary title of the extant Dukedom of Cambridge.
Duke of Cumberland[1] Extinct in 1765.
Duke of Cumberland and Strathearn Extinct in 1790.
Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh Extinct in 1834.
Duke of Hereford Merged in the crown in 1399 Non-royal Viscountcy of Hereford (created 1550) is extant.
Duke of Kendal[1] Extinct in 1667. Non-royal dukedom created in 1719 (extinct 1743).
Duke of Kent and Strathearn Extinct in 1820.
Duke of Kintyre and Lorne Extinct in 1602
Duke of Ross Extinct in 1515
Duke of Sussex Extinct in 1843.
Duke of Windsor Extinct in 1972.
Duke of York and Albany Extinct in 1827.

Extant as non-Royal Dukedoms[edit]

Title Royal creation Current status
Duke of Bedford Extinct in 1495. Non-royal dukedom created in 1694 is extant.
Duke of Somerset Extinct in 1500. Non-royal dukedom created in 1547 is extant.

Suspended Dukedoms[edit]

Under the Titles Deprivation Act 1917 the holders of the following dukedoms, who were simultaneously British princes and members of royal and princely families of Germany, were deprived of their British titles having sided with Germany during First World War. The Act provides that a successor of a person thus deprived of a peerage can petition the Crown for revival of the title. No such descendant has done so as of 2017.

Title Current claimant
Duke of Albany[1] Prince Hubertus of Saxe Coburg and Gotha
Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale Prince Ernst August of Hanover

Royal dukedoms created since 1726[edit]

Coat of arms Title Prince Date created Notes

Reign of King George I[edit]

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
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]

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]

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 Extinct in 1834 [o 1]
Coat of Arms of Henry Frederick, Duke of Cumberland and Strathearn.svg Duke of Cumberland and Strathearn Prince Henry 27 November 1784 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 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 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 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 Deprived in 1919
Coat of Arms of Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex.svg Duke of Sussex Prince Augustus Frederick 27 November 1801 Extinct in 1843 [n 1]
Coat of Arms of Adolphus Frederick, Duke of Cambridge.svg Duke of Cambridge Prince Adolphus 27 November 1801 Extinct in 1904 [p 1]

Reign of Queen Victoria[edit]

Coat of Arms of Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh.svg Duke of Edinburgh Prince Alfred 24 May 1866 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 Extinct in 1943 [q 1]
Coat of Arms of Leopold, Duke of Albany.svg Duke of Albany Prince Leopold 24 May 1881 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 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

Reign of King George V[edit]

Coat of Arms of Albert, Duke of York.svg Duke of York Prince Albert 3 June 1920 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

Reign of King George VI[edit]

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

Reign of Queen Elizabeth II[edit]

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

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]

Notes[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]
  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 have been extinct in 1960.
  1. ^ The 2nd Duke died without legitimate male heirs.

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. ^ Velde, Francois. "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".