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This page provides brief histories of some of the more prominent British dukedoms.

The first three English dukedoms (Lancaster, Clarence and Cornwall) were created by Edward III for his eldest sons; Richard II, his grandson and heir, created two more (York and Gloucester) for his uncles, Edward's other two sons.


This was England's first dukedom, originally created in 1337 for Edward of Woodstock, the Black Prince, eldest son of Edward III. Granted under a charter of 1421 to the eldest legitimate son of the sovereign.
It was recreated after the death of the first Duke for his son, the future Richard II. (It didn't pass to him automatically because the title can only be granted to the eldest son of the sovereign – and Richard was Edward's grandson. This rule still seems to have been ignored, however, when it was recreated for Richard …).
The current incumbent is Prince Charles. He was proclaimed at Launceston Castle in 1973; his feudal dues included a pair of white gloves, gilt spurs and greyhounds, a pound of pepper and cumin, a bow, one hundred silver shillings, wood for his fires, and a salmon spear.
Charles's second wife Camilla uses the style Duchess of Cornwall rather than Princess of Wales.


This title was first created in 1351 for a great–grandson of Henry III.
It was recreated in 1362 (following the death of the first Duke in 1361 with no male heir) for John of Gaunt, 4th son of Edward III (who had married Blanche of Lancaster, daughter of the first and only Duke of the first creation).
Henry Bolingbroke succeeded in 1397 on the death of his father John of Gaunt, the first Duke of the second creation, and usurped his cousin Richard II in 1399 to become King Henry IV.
The title was created for a third time in 1399 for Henry IV's eldest son.
The title merged in the crown again in 1413 when the 1st Duke of the third creation succeeded his father as Henry V.
The sovereign is still styled with this title – even when, as now, she is female.


This title was first created in 1362 for the third son of Edward III, who died with no male heir.
The second creation was in 1412 for the second son of Henry IV, who also died with no male heir.
The third creation was in 1461 for Prince George, brother of Edward IV, who forfeited the title in 1478 after being convicted of treason against his brother. According to tradition and Shakespeare, he was drowned in a butt of malmsey.
The fourth creation was for Lord Guildford Dudley, husband of Lady Jane Grey, to take effect upon her coronation (she declined to make him consort); but as this never took place, the title was never awarded.
The fifth creation was for the third son of George III, who succeeded his brother (George IV) to the throne in 1830.
The sixth and final creation was for the eldest son of Edward, Prince of Wales (later Edward VII). The title became extinct again in 1892 when the Duke died of pneumonia.


Since the second creation, the title Duke of York has traditionally been given to the second son of the monarch.

This title was first created for Edmund of Langley, fourth surviving son of Edward III.
The second Duke (son of the first) was killed at Agincourt in 1415; the title passed to his nephew, and then to the third duke's son (great–grandson of Edward III), who in 1461 succeeded to the throne as Edward IV.
The second creation was for Richard of Shrewsbury, second son of Edward IV, who is believed to have died in 1483 as one of the Princes in the Tower. (Edward IV was previously the fourth Duke of the first creation.)
The third creation was for the second son of Henry VII, who succeeded to the throne as Henry VIII (after the death of his elder brother Arthur).
The fourth creation was for Charles Stuart, second son of James I (of England), who succeeded to the throne as Charles I following the death of his elder brother Henry Frederick.
The fifth creation was for James Stuart, second son of Charles I, who succeeded his elder brother (Charles II) to the throne as James II. It is after him that the city of New York was named.
James Francis Edward Stuart, the “Old Pretender” (son of James II), gave the title to his second son, Henry (younger brother of Bonnie Prince Charlie, or the Young Pretender). He became a cardinal and was known as the Cardinal Duke of York. He also became known to the Jacobites as King Henry IX.
The title Duke of York and Albany was created several times in the 18th century. The third creation of this title was for Prince Frederick Augustus, second son of George III, who served as Commander–in–Chief of the army for many years and is celebrated in the nursery rhyme The Grand Old Duke of York.
The sixth creation was for Prince George, the second son of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (later Edward VII); he succeeded his father as King George V following the death of his brother Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence.
The seventh creation was for Prince Albert, second son of George V, who became King George VI following the abdication of his brother Edward VIII.
The eighth creation was for Prince Andrew, second son of Elizabeth II. He has no male heirs.
Tradition suggests that the title will be granted to Prince Harry after Andrew's death.


This title was created by Richard II for his uncle, Thomas of Woodstock (youngest son of Edward III). The first duke was murdered in 1397, probably on the orders of Richard for his part in a rebellion.
The second Duke of Gloucester was Humphrey of Lancaster, the fourth and youngest son of Henry IV and his first wife Mary de Bohun. He was the brother of Henry V, and the uncle of Henry VI. Humphrey had two children – a son and a daughter – but both were illegitimate. The son, Arthur of Gloucester, died in 1447 – the same year as his father.
The dukedom was created for a third time for Richard, the younger brother of King Edward IV. The title was merged with the throne when he became King Richard III.
It was recreated (for the 5th time) in 1928 for Prince Henry – third son of George V, younger brother of Edward VIII and George VI, and uncle to the Queen.
The 1st Duke's eldest son was Prince William, who died in an air crash in 1972.
The second and current Duke is Prince Richard, second son of the first Duke (succeeded 1974) and first cousin to the Queen. He married Birgitte van Deurs, the daughter of a Danish lawyer.
The heir to the title is Alexander, Earl of Ulster (b. 1974).


This title was created (not for the first time) for Prince George, the fourth son of George V. He married Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark. They had three children: Prince Edward, Princess Alexandra, and Prince Michael.
The current incumbent is Prince Edward, eldest son of the first Duke (of this creation). He is first cousin to the Queen. He married Katharine Worsley in 1961. She is famous for her patronage of the Wimbledon tennis tournament, and she converted to Catholicism in 1994. They have three children: George, Earl of St. Andrews, Lady Helen Taylor, and Lord Nicholas Windsor.
The heir to the title is George, Earl of St. Andrews; this is a courtesy title (i.e. it is officially held by his father). His wife Sylvana is a Roman Catholic.


This title was created in 1937 for the former King Edward VIII, following his abdication; it became extinct on his death in 1972 and will probably never be used again.


This title was first created in 1726 for Prince Frederick Lewis, grandson of George I; inherited by his son George, who became King George III.
It was recreated in 1764 for the younger brother of George III (as Gloucester and Edinburgh). This creation became extinct on the death of his son.
The third creation was in 1866 for Prince Alfred, second son of Queen Victoria, who died without a male heir.
The fourth creation was in 1947 for Lt. Philip Mountbatten, a Prince of Greece and Denmark, the day before his marriage to Princess Elizabeth. In 1957 he renounced his Greek and Danish titles, and his rights to the Greek throne, and was made a Prince of the United Kingdom.
It was announced in 1999, at the time of his wedding, that Prince Edward would succeed his father to this title – but this will only happen after Prince Charles succeeds to the throne (as the title would pass to Charles on Philip's death, and be merged with the throne on his succession). Otherwise Charles, William, Harry and Andrew are all before Edward in the line of succession.


This is the traditional title of the heir apparent to the Scottish throne, and the British throne since 1707. It was first created in 1398 for David Stewart, son of King Robert III of Scotland. Succession to the heir apparent was confirmed by Act of the Scottish Parliament in 1469.
Prince Charles uses this title when in Scotland, in preference to Duke of Cornwall or Prince of Wales.

© Haydn Thompson 2017