photo courtesy of Wikipedia
On the eve of this year's Chinese New Year while having dinner at Marco Polo Plaza, I was seated beside Carlo Rivera Associate Editor of Cebu's Zee Lifestyle; by coincidence, both of us are self-confessed Anglophile-in-the-making. We ended up talking all things British throughout the dinner.
I was inspired by our conversation to write something about Royal Dukedoms. I spent the entire Saturday afternoon, going through my books and files about this British Royal tradition.
British Royal Prince, Henry Charles Albert David, fondly known as Prince Harry will be married to American-born Meghan Markle in May 2018. As per Royal tradition, sons and grandsons of the British Monarch are given the title Duke upon reaching their majority or marriage.
The most recent Royal Prince conferred with a Dukedom was Prince William when he married in 2011; he became His Royal Highness Prince William, Duke of Cambridge. The Letters Patent was signed by his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, the present British Monarch.
Royal watchers around the world have been wondering which Royal Dukedom will be granted to Prince Harry. There isn't a lot that can be deemed appropriate in a 21st Century setting.
The five current Royal Dukedoms consist of Edinburgh (Prince Philip), Cambridge (Prince William), York (Prince Andrew), Gloucester (Prince Richard), and Kent (Prince Edward). All of these Duchies except for Cambridge was created in the 20th Century.
The Dukes of Gloucester and Kent are grandsons of George V. They inherited their titles when their fathers died. When their sons inherit the duchies, they will no longer be called "His Royal Highness" since they are the great-grandchildren of a monarch. Thus, these dukedoms will cease to become Royal by that time.
There is a strict limitation in inheriting a Royal Dukedom: "heirs male of the body lawfully begotten" has been in practice for hundreds of years. In the absence of male heirs, the title becomes extinct.
The Duke of York is the son of Queen Elizabeth II and since he does not have male heirs, upon his death his dukedom will revert back to the Crown.
Prince Edward Earl of Wessex will inherit his father's title of Duke of Edinburgh upon Prince Philip's death. George VI bestowed the dukedom in 1947 to his son-in-law, Philip Mountbatten, upon his marriage to Princess Elizabeth.
Charles, Prince of Wales, is also Duke of Cornwall and Duke of Rothesay but these can only be held by the heir apparent to the British Crown.
Queen Elizabeth II also holds the Duchy of Lancaster which has been a private inheritance of the Sovereign since 1399 when Henry Bolingbroke, 2nd Duke of Lancaster, became Henry IV.
|Edward VII (Duke of Windsor)
photo courtesy of Wikipedia
When Edward VIII abdicated in 1936, his brother George V, created the title Duke of Windsor for him in 1937. And since he did not have any children with his wife Wallis Simpson, his title became extinct in 1972.
One thing for sure, the Duke of Windsor and Prince Harry has something in common --- American divorcees!
I don't think the Queen will want Prince Harry to be the next Duke of Windsor. Too many sad and bitter memories attached to that dukedom.
Another choice that can be considered could be the royal peerage of Duke of Clarence. There have been five creations of this Duchy since 1362. One characteristic of this duchy is that all of the royal personages who were bestowed this title ended up not passing it on to any heirs of their own.
For me, George Plantagenet is the most tragic of them all. Having betrayed and acted traitorously against his brother Edward IV, he was convicted and sentenced to die. As made famous by William Shakespeare, he was drowned in a butt of Malmsey wine. His title was rescinded by Edward IV.
The Hanoverian Monarchs loved granting double dukedoms to their sons and grandsons to show inclusivity to their dominions. Before becoming William IV, the third son of George III was Duke of Clarence and St. Andrews. He didn't have any legitimate male heirs thus his title became extinct.
|Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale
In 1890, Queen Victoria made her grandson Prince Albert Victor, the eldest son of Edward VII, Duke of Clarence and Avondale in 1890. Unfortunately, he died of influenza in 1892. He was betrothed to his cousin Princess Mary of Teck who would eventually marry his brother George V after his death.
Unless the Royal family do not believe in superstition, the Duke of Clarence might not be chosen as well for Prince Harry.
|Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn
The peerage of Duke of Connaught and Strathearn was granted to Queen Victoria's third son, Prince Arthur in 1874. When Prince Arthur died in 1942, his grandson Alistair succeeded to the dukedom. In a bizarre twist of fate, Alistair only lived less than a year after inheriting the duchy from his grandfather. He died from exposure in Canada.
Connaught or Connacht is one of the provinces in the Republic of Ireland. It's no longer suitable to have this title for a British royal since Irish Independence has been provided. Only the northern part of Ireland remains with the United Kingdom.
A logical option at this point and maybe a little less controversial will be the Duke of Sussex. The last and only royal to hold this title was Prince Augustus Frederick, the sixth son of George III. It was given to him in 1801 and it returned to the Crown in 1843 upon his death even though he had male heirs. Prince Augustus Frederick was married twice.
|Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex
Since the prince married without the consent of the king and not accordingly to the Royal Marriages Act of 1772, his first marriage was annulled while his second marriage was not recognized.
According to some sources, the Duke of Sussex was considered for Prince Edward when he married in 1999 as well as for Prince William in 2011. Royal Experts have said that most likely this will be given to Prince Harry.
If all of these available dukedoms are deemed unacceptable, the Queen can always name a new title for her grandson. She can choose from the different regions located in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales.
Aside from a Dukedom, Prince Harry will also be given titles in Scotland and Northern Ireland similar to what was done for Prince William. We will find out on the wedding day itself on May 19, 2018.
But one thing is certain, the royal tradition will be honored and continued.
For more further reading on British Royalty, click here for suggestions and references.