Monday, 2 August 2010

Royal Dukedoms

Royal dukedoms interest me. Their history is already well documented; however, as usual, I shall endeavour to condense the facts down to their essence.

When a royal peerage is conferred upon a royal prince or, indeed princess, and it subsequently becomes extinct, it is then reserved for a later prince and is unavailable to a Subject.

The royal dukedoms of York and Gloucester were both created in 1385. Since 1474 the dukedom of York has traditionally been reserved for the Sovereign's second son.

The Dukedom of Edinburgh was first bestowed on a grandson of King George I. Queen Victoria made her son, Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh; and, like Prince Philip - the current Duke - he, too, was a sailor prince.

The Dukedom of Kent was originally non-royal. The Greys held this title until it became extinct in 1797. It effectively became a royal dukedom two years later, when King George III gave it to his fourth son.

Other royal dukedoms include the Dukedom of Clarence, derived from the Honour of Clare in Suffolk; the Dukedoms of Cumberland and Albany; the Dukedom of Kendal; the Dukedom of Sussex; the Dukedom of Connaught; and the Dukedom of Cambridge.

Since the Dukedoms of Albany and Connaught no longer pertain to the Realm, they may be considered virtually extinct. The Dukedom of Windsor was created especially for HM King Edward VIII following his abdication; so, though technically vacant, it is unlikely that this title shall be revived.

The Dukedom of Cambridge was re-conferred as a marquesssate in the 20th century which has since become extinct; so it is possible that this royal dukedom could be revived one day.

The Duchy of Lancaster has been merged with the Crown; and the dukedoms of Cornwall and Rothesay are used by the Heir Apparent.

It has been proclaimed that, following the deaths of his parents, HRH The Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex shall become The Duke of Edinburgh.

Paul James wrote an interesting piece about royal dukedoms in 2004.

Whilst it cannot be discounted that a new royal dukedom could be created, the most likely dukedoms to be re-conferred in future are those of Sussex, Clarence or Cambridge. There has, indeed, been some speculation that, on the day of Prince William's marriage, such a title may be conferred.

Prince William's bride would otherwise assume the style Her Royal Highness Princess William of Wales.

Last published in June, 2009.


Anonymous said...

They all seem to die out.

GKP said...

I too am interested in Royal Dukedoms and was disappointed that HRH The Prince Edward did not receive one upon his marriage. In due course the Dukedom of Edinburgh could still have been bestowed on him, in recognition of the work he does for the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. Prince Edward could then have held a dual Dukedom as was the custom in Georgian and Victorian times. I sincerely hope that TRHs Princes Willaim and Harry will be offered, and accept, Dukedoms when they marry. I would dearly like to see the Dukedoms of Clarence and Sussex restored for this purpose.

Timothy Belmont said...

I seem to recall some media tittle-tattle, at the time of Prince Edward's creation as Earl of Wessex, that the Royal Family was felt to be too extensive and that there were too many junior members; so Prince Edward's Earldom possibly was a reflection of that sentiment.

Of course I agree with you, that the tradition should have continued whereby Prince Edward was created a royal duke, like his brothers.


Anonymous said...

If the Duke of York had a son, surely he would inherit the Dukedom? If that's so, surely after a few generations it would cease to be seen as "royal." Do you think that's so? Something akin to the Dukedom of Fife, created for the husband of one of Victoria's daughters.


Unknown said...

From checking online it appears that coincidently every person who has ever been conferred with the Dukedom of York has either became King (and the title has thus merged with the throne) or died without any male heirs.

Timothy Belmont said...

The Royal Dukedom of York is considerably more historic and ancient than Fife, which dates from 1889.

To my mind, York will always revert back to the Crown; as will Gloucester and Kent, in the fullness of time!

That said, I'm no expert and I, too, should like to know how and when Gloucester and Kent will revert, since the current royal dukes have heirs!

Timothy Belmont said...

Presumably it could take several generations for some royal dukedoms to revert back to the Crown.

Having looked at various creations of the Dukedom of Gloucester, the title reverts to the Crown when the royal duke dies without issue.

Anonymous said...

But would Gloucester remain a "Royal Dukedom" if, in five or six generations, it's still being passed to heirs male - surely that family of Windsor Gloucester would just be a ducal, non-royal family (notwithstanding that it'll revert to the R. on extinction).