Author Topic: Question about British noble titles  (Read 3140 times)

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Lynn2000

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Question about British noble titles
« on: May 29, 2011, 09:21:57 PM »
So I happened to be reading this article:

http://www.eastlothiancourier.com/news/roundup/articles/2011/05/12/413249-wedding-of-16th-duke-of-hamilton/

It's about the wedding of a British duke that took place recently. Apparently, as well as being the Duke of Hamilton, he's also the Earl of Cambridge. But William (THE William) is Duke of Cambridge. This seems confusing to me.

Are the titles largely ceremonial these days, as opposed to having any tangible aspect to them? Just curious.
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Winterlight

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Re: Question about British noble titles
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2011, 10:49:51 PM »
According to my google-fu, he's the Earl of Arran and Cambridge. It's a Scottish peerage, not related to the English title.
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Lynn2000

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Re: Question about British noble titles
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2011, 10:54:57 PM »
Oh, so there's two different Cambridges? The article I referenced said, "And little more than a week after the world had celebrated another royal marriage between the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in London, there was a new Countess of Cambridge in Miss Rutherford - taking the title from her husband, who is also the Earl of Cambridge." So, I think they should have phrased that better, to explain that the two Cambridges are different.

Or maybe I'm the only obsessed person who cares about those things!  ;D
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Winterlight

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Re: Question about British noble titles
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2011, 11:07:54 PM »
Oh, so there's two different Cambridges? The article I referenced said, "And little more than a week after the world had celebrated another royal marriage between the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in London, there was a new Countess of Cambridge in Miss Rutherford - taking the title from her husband, who is also the Earl of Cambridge." So, I think they should have phrased that better, to explain that the two Cambridges are different.

Or maybe I'm the only obsessed person who cares about those things!  ;D

I think the wording wasn't the best- they abbreviated the Scottish title, which is Arran and Cambridge. That would have clarified matters.

And considering I went and hunted this down- it's not just you. ;)
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PurpleFrog

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Re: Question about British noble titles
« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2011, 01:39:07 AM »
I think there's also a difference between The Earl of Something and Earl of Something, but for the life of me I can't remember what it is. Anyone?

If I recall correctly the 'earl of somewhere' is a heredity title passed through generations, the 'earl for life' applies only to a single generation. I may be wrong though is 6:30 so I'm only semi functioning.
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NestHolder

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Re: Question about British noble titles
« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2011, 03:49:24 PM »
So I happened to be reading this article:

http://www.eastlothiancourier.com/news/roundup/articles/2011/05/12/413249-wedding-of-16th-duke-of-hamilton/

It's about the wedding of a British duke that took place recently. Apparently, as well as being the Duke of Hamilton, he's also the Earl of Cambridge. But William (THE William) is Duke of Cambridge. This seems confusing to me.

Are the titles largely ceremonial these days, as opposed to having any tangible aspect to them? Just curious.

The oldest created titles would generally have been given with land - ie the powerful nobles would have had a good deal of actual territory to provide them with an income.  That was a good few hundred years ago, though.  I don't know whether the title and the geography were connected originally, but in any case the richest families no doubt acquired more land all over the place, by various means.  You'll often find that these days the title doesn't seem to bear much relationship to where the land *is*.  For instance, the Duke of Devonshire's main family house is Chatsworth, which is in Derbyshire.  The Duke of Norfolk owns a lot of land in Sussex.  And you often see places with unexpected names in the 'wrong' towns, eg Norfolk Place (I think) in Sheffield (Yorkshire), which is part of the Duke of Norfolk's estates, and Bedford Square (in London), owned by the Duke of Bedford - ie the place is named after the peer rather than after the place.  (We have a county of Norfolk and a town of Bedford.)

These are hereditary titles - you'll get the 16th Duke of Norfolk, 6th Duke of Westminster, etc.  So the titles parade through our history, with different people owning them and the estates that go with them.  Also, they generally manage to acquire subsidiary titles (and, probably, estates) as they go on, so the heir to the Dukedom will use a courtesy title that's one of his father's lesser titles, eg, the Duke of Bedford's heir is the Marquis of Tavistock.

Royal Dukes like Edinburgh and York and Cambridge don't get land to go with the title.  York is the traditional dukedom given to the second son of the reigning monarch, and there are a handful of others that are used regularly.  Anyway, you'll get Dukes of York, Clarence, Cambridge, Kent etc popping up throughout history because they were the monarch's sons [for instance, George III's sons: George, Prince of Wales (later George IV), Frederic, Duke of York, William (later William IV, I think he was Duke of Clarence), Edward, Duke of Kent, Ernest, Duke of Cumberland, Augustus, Duke of Sussex, Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge], but the title isn't inherited by the duke's son - that only happens when the dukedom is the other kind.

Prince Harry can't become Duke of York, though, at least not until his Uncle Andrew is dead, so that one will probably skip down to William's second son, assuming there is one.   I don't know, but I'd assume there is probably a grant of income that goes with being a Royal Duke; whether it's paid by the monarch or by the state, I cannot guess.

I believe the rank of Duke is actually senior to Prince: I'm sure I read that a (legitimate) son of the monarch is born a prince, but raised to the rank of Duke.

Winterlight

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Re: Question about British noble titles
« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2011, 04:51:28 PM »
I believe the rank of Duke is actually senior to Prince: I'm sure I read that a (legitimate) son of the monarch is born a prince, but raised to the rank of Duke.

They can be raised to the rank of Royal Duke, or that title can be inherited by a child of a Royal Duke- for example, the current Duke of Gloucester, Prince Richard (a royal duke) is the grandson of George V. His father, Prince Henry, was George V's third son. Prince Richard's son will inherit the dukedom, but is not a prince, as he is the great-grandson of a king.
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kareng57

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Re: Question about British noble titles
« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2011, 10:20:55 PM »
I believe the rank of Duke is actually senior to Prince: I'm sure I read that a (legitimate) son of the monarch is born a prince, but raised to the rank of Duke.

They can be raised to the rank of Royal Duke, or that title can be inherited by a child of a Royal Duke- for example, the current Duke of Gloucester, Prince Richard (a royal duke) is the grandson of George V. His father, Prince Henry, was George V's third son. Prince Richard's son will inherit the dukedom, but is not a prince, as he is the great-grandson of a king.


But he's still the son of a prince, so is there a reason why he would not have the title Prince?  I'm aware that quite often the Earl/Duke title is used instead (such as the Earl of St Andrew's, son of the Duke of Kent, and his younger brother is Lord Nicholas Windsor and his sister Lady Helen Windsor - I think), but aren't they still technically princes/princess?  Of course there could be exceptions such as the children of the Earl and Countess of Essex - they could technically be Prince/Princess, but their parents wish them to be titled Lord and Lady instead.

ClaireC79

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Re: Question about British noble titles
« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2011, 05:11:47 AM »
Grandchildren of the monarch are (or are entitled to be known as Princess Anne declined it for her children) prince / princess but it doesn't pass down the generations further than that

LaciGirl007

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Re: Question about British noble titles
« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2011, 09:36:39 AM »
Grandchildren of the monarch are (or are entitled to be known as Princess Anne declined it for her children) prince / princess but it doesn't pass down the generations further than that
Then how come when The Duke of Windsor was born, his title was His Highness Prince Edward of York when at that point he was the great-grandson of the then-monarch, Queen Victoria?

ETA:  Never mind, I found the answer to that myself: "Use of the style His Royal Highness or Her Royal Highness (HRH) and the titular dignity of Prince or Princess are governed by Letters Patent issued by George V on 30 November 1917 and published in the London Gazette on 11 December 1917. These Letters Patent state that henceforth only the children of the Sovereign, the children of the sons of the Sovereign, and the eldest son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales would "have and at all times hold and enjoy the style, title or attribute of Royal Highness with their titular dignity of Prince or Princess prefixed to their respective Christian names or with their other titles of honour." They further state, "the grandchildren of the sons of any such Sovereign in the direct male line (save only the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales) shall have the style and title enjoyed by the children of Dukes." Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Royal_Family

If that's still in effect, it's not quite right that great-grandchildren of the monarch would not be princes: "the eldest son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales" would also be a prince.  Which is very interesting, because that means that if Wills & Kate have two sons (whilst The Queen is still living) the second son would not be a prince.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2011, 09:46:32 AM by LaciGirl007 »

Winterlight

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Re: Question about British noble titles
« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2011, 01:06:09 PM »
My guess is that the Cambridge's children would probably be styled Lord Peter or Lady Jane until the Queen died, at which point they would become princes or princesses. It's like when the late Princess of Wales was born, she was The Honourable Diana Spencer because her father was at that time a viscount. When his father died and he inherited the earldom, she became Lady Diana. 
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Allie003

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Re: Question about British noble titles
« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2011, 05:12:02 PM »
He was given other titles, right? So the first son will be Earl of whatever, the girls will be either Lady Firstname Windsor or Lady Firstname Windsor-Mountbatten* and all sons but the first will be Lord Firstname Windsor or Lord Firstname Windsor-Mountbatten.

*When Elizabeth took the throne a compromise was worked out where starting a couple of generations out the last name would become Windsor-Mountbatten for male-line descendants not in direct line for the throne. However, there seems some movement in the direction of Windsor-Mountbatten for everyone. Anne and Charles both signed their wedding registers using that as a surname, and Edward (I think) uses the Mountbatten-Windsor surname for his daughter, Louise.

ZaftigWife

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Re: Question about British noble titles
« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2011, 06:53:49 AM »
I seem to recall reading that when Prince Edward worked for Andrew Lloyd Webber's theatre company, he answered the phone simply, "Edward Windsor."   :)

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Re: Question about British noble titles
« Reply #13 on: June 13, 2011, 11:59:01 AM »
My guess is that the Cambridge's children would probably be styled Lord Peter or Lady Jane until the Queen died, at which point they would become princes or princesses. It's like when the late Princess of Wales was born, she was The Honourable Diana Spencer because her father was at that time a viscount. When his father died and he inherited the earldom, she became Lady Diana. 

i'm not sure about that one.  Andrew's daughters are princesses, and the Queen is very much alive.

hardia

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Re: Question about British noble titles
« Reply #14 on: June 13, 2011, 12:43:59 PM »
But any Cambridge children will be one generation further removed from the Queen than Andrew's daughters.  The letters patent mentioned by LaciGirl007 above grant the status of prince or princess to all male-line grandchildren of the monarch -- so not Princess Anne's children, as they are female-line grandchildren, but the children of Charles, Andrew, and Edward (although Edward and his wife Sophie choose not to use Prince or Princess for their children, but they are entitled to be called that).  They also grant the status of prince to the first-born son of the first-born son of the Prince of Wales, so if William and Kate have a son while the Queen is still living, he will be a prince, but any other children will not.  Until the Queen dies, Charles becomes king, and then William's children would be male-line grandchildren of the monarch.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2011, 12:46:16 PM by hardia »

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