Saturday, July 25, 2009

Question from Macy - Titles of younger sons of kings

I have a question about the royal sons. I know the eldest is naturally the Prince of Wales. But is the second always destined for the church? What titles do they traditionally hold of any? And third or fourth sons? I would assume they hold dukedoms but are their wives have a princess title?


SchoolMarm said...

The the second son of a king is usually invested with the title "Duke of York." For example, Prince Charles is the Prince of Wales and Prince Andrew is the Duke of York. Their youngest brother, Edward, was made Earl of Wessex and will inherit the title Duke of Edinburgh when his father Prince Philip dies.

I believe that tradition dictates that the sons of a monarch are given dukedoms, a tradition that Elizabeth II broke with by creating her youngest son an Earl first.

PhD Historian said...

Good question, Macy. And one with a very complex answer requiring multiple parts.

The first son of an English monarch has indeed usually been styled or called "Prince of Wales" since the beginning of the 14th century. The title is not automatic or "natural," however. It must actually be conferred by the monarch through the issuing of Letters Patent. Many earlier Princes of Wales did not receive the title until they were beyond the age of childhood diseases that might cut their life short. The title did not begin to be consistently conferred at birth until the Hanoverian period (18th century).

The notion that second sons of monarchs were destined for careers in the church is actually false. The idea seems to have stemmed from the story that Henry VII planned to push his second son, the future Henry VIII, into the church prior to the death of Prince Arthur.

After Henry IV (who died in 1413), few monarchs even had multiple sons. Henry V, VI, and VIII, as well as Richard III, each had only one son. Edward IV had two sons, but both died as small children. And after the Reformation during Henry VIII's reign, opportunities for royal sons to become church leaders essentially ceased.

Even among earlier monarchs who had multiple sons (Henry II, Edward I, Edward III, Henry IV), not even one of those many sons entered on careers in the church. In fact, I am not aware of any legitimate son of any English monarch since William the Conqueror who entered holy orders and embarked on a career in the church. It just never happened. The closest we get is Henry Stuart, Cardinal-Duke of York, the second grandson of James II, who entered the church long after his grandfather had been deposed.

PhD Historian said...

As for titles, the first monarch to confer a specific noble title on a second son was King John, who created his second son, Richard, Earl of Cornwall when Richard was 14 years old (the Cornwall title has been a dukedom attached to the Prince of Wales title since the 14th century). Edward III created his second son Duke of Clarence, as did Henry IV. But beginning with Edward IV, second sons were created Dukes of York (Edward IV's brother was already Duke of Clarence, so a new title had to be created for Edward’s son). Third sons, when there were any, were often created Dukes of Bedford, and fourth sons became Dukes of Gloucester. But again, no monarch between Henry VII circa 1500 and George II circa 1725 had multiple sons, so there was no one on whom titles might be conferred.

The conferring of titles changed somewhat in the 18th century, the Hanoverian period. Both George II and his grandson George III were very prolific. Each had many sons, all of whom received titles. But because those sons also had their own sons to inherit the father's title, new titles had to be created for second, third, and fourth sons of the monarch. There was an explosion of new titles.

George II's second surviving son was created Duke of Cumberland (George II's brother already held the Duke of York title at the time).

George III's second son was made Duke of York because the title was then vacant. His third son was Duke of Clarence, which was also then vacant. Subsequent sons were, in order, the Dukes of Kent, Sussex, and Cambridge.

PhD Historian said...

Victoria had several sons, but most of the English titles were already occupied when her sons were themselves given titles, so she instead relied on titles from Scotland and Ireland. Her second son became Duke of Edinburgh (Scotland) and Earl of Kent (England) and Ulster (Ireland) at age 22. Her third son was made Duke of Connaught (Ireland) and Strathearn (Scotland) at age 24. Victoria’s fourth son was given the title Duke of Albany (Scotland) at age 28.

Edward VII’s first son, Albert Victor, was born while Edward was still Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall, so young Albert was made Duke of Clarence in 1890, that title having by then become vacant. Edward’s second son, George, was named Duke of York, since he was the second son of the heir apparent.

George V, who had himself been Duke of York before becoming king, continued what was by then well-established practice and named his own second son Duke of York. George’s third son was made Duke of Gloucester rather than Clarence out of deference to his deceased great-uncle, Albert Victor, the last to hold the Clarence title. George V’s fourth son became Duke of Kent just at George III’s son had been over a century earlier.

PhD Historian said...

SchoolMarm notes that while the present Queen’s second son was created Duke of York, consistent with tradition, her third son was not made a duke. And while this is indeed a break with tradition, the reason for the break is seldom reported.

Firstly, the usual titles for third and fourth sons, Duke of Gloucester and Duke of Kent, are otherwise occupied. Clarence has been extinct since the 19th century. Connaught has been extinct since 1943 and is non-revivable because of the independence of Ireland in 1922. The Cambridge title was reduced to a marquessate following the abolition of Germanic titles among the British aristocracy during WWI (the 2nd Duke of Teck, a great-grandson of George III became the Marquess of Cambridge in 1917), and became extinct in 1981.

One of the only remaining title previously used for sons of the monarch is that of Duke of Edinburgh, but that title is already held by the Queen’s husband, Prince Philip. As it stands now, Prince Charles will inherit the title of Duke of Edinburgh from his father when Prince Philip dies, making Charles Duke of Cornwall, Rothesay and Edinburgh. When (and if) Charles becomes king, the Edinburgh title will merge with the Crown. At that point, it can be re-granted in a new creation. And reports have it that Charles has promised to create his younger brother Edward Duke of Edinburgh as a way of honoring their father and insuring that the father’s title survives separate from the Crown dignities. In the meantime, Edward is Earl of Wessex, a historic and ancient title associated with the ancient Kingdom of Wessex, one of the four principal kingdoms within England prior to the Conquest.

PhD Historian said...

Whether the wives of second and subsequent sons are styled “Princess” depends entirely upon the era. Prior to the present reign, many wives of sons and grandsons of the monarch were called “Princess.” But among the three daughters-in-law of the present Queen, only Diana was styled Princess, by virtue of being the wife of the Prince of Wales. Sarah was and remains Duchess of York, and Sophie is Countess of Wessex. Neither can rightly be called “Princess.” This is the result of Letters Patent issued by the present queen some years ago limiting the use thereafter of the style and title “Prince” or “Princess.” I can think of only one instance among the British Royal Family in which the wife of a male descendant of a former monarch is still styled “Princess.” The wife of Prince Michael of Kent, himself a grandson of King George V, is known as “Princess Michael of Kent.” Prince Michael was a younger son and, unlike all of his surviving male royal cousins, has never been granted a title of nobility in his own right. He is not a duke, marquess, earl, viscount, or baron. He is “simply” a prince, and that by virtue of being the second son of a fourth son of a monarch. After Michael of Kent’s death, only sons of the monarch and sons of the heir apparent (whether male or female) will be styled “Prince,” and only the daughters of monarchs and of sons of living monarchs, as well as wives of the heir apparent and his/her male descendants, will be styled “Princess.”

PhD Historian said...

I forgot to add to the last post: The wives of younger sons of the monarch who actually had titles, such as the various sons of George III who held ducal titles, were usually known as Duchesses with the enhancement of being Royal Highnesses. Thus the wife of George III's third son, William Duke of Clarence, was known as Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Clarence.

But many wives of second and subsequent sons of English monarchs were themselves Princesses in their own right. The wife of Queen Victoria's third son, Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught, was herself a Princess of Prussia. The wife of Edward VII's second son, Prince George, Duke of York, was similarly herself a Princess of the royal house of the kingdom of Wurttemberg.

But officially, women with foreign royal titles surrendered those titles upon marriage into the British Royal Family, becoming known thereafter only by their husband's rank and title.

Anonymous said...

Thank you ever so much PhD Historian. You are a wealth of knowledge.

cheryl said...

wow kudos PHD that was quite an answer

PhD Historian said...

Thanks, guys. It is my pleasure.

Anonymous said...

Are there times where these titles that are granted to younger sons would be able to be inherited by their descendents? Or do these titles always return to the crown upon the death of the monarch's children?

denise said...

Thanks PhD that is fascinating!

One minor question. I seem to remember at Prince Edward's marriage that his new title of Earl was explained because both he and his wife had secular jobs and were not expected to carry out many royal duties. Both eventually gave up their day jobs to become full time royals. It was only after this that the plan to make him a Duke was revealed.

I had assumed that the title of Duke of York was given to Henry VIII to emphasize that the war of the roses was over. However, I do not see Duke of Lancaster in your list of royal titles. Does it still exist as a duchy?

One more question... What does it mean to create these titles? Is there land or annuities associated with them? Or are they just titles?

PhD Historian said...

Yes, Anonymous, all titles are usually inheritable, unless the letters patent of creation specifically limit the title to the lifetime of the holder, as with modern life peerages. The original letters patent usually specify the extent to which a title can be inherited, whether by sons only, or by brothers, cousins, etc. Such limitations are known as "entails," and the terms of such entails can vary widely.

But it is rare for titles above the rank of baron to be limited to the lifetime of the holder. I am not aware of any title granted to a royal child that was limited in that way, though many such titles did nonetheless become extinct when the original holder died without leaving legitimate male heirs (e.g., Edward VII's son Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence, died without heirs so his title became extinct; the current Duke of York has only two daughters, so the title will likely become extinct at his death ... and it can then be re-granted to William’s second son, assuming he becomes king and eventually has more than one son).

PhD Historian said...

Denise, you are correct that there was a considerable amount of controversy over the appropriateness of both Prince Edward's and his wife's private employment status, and that controversy did perhaps play a role in what title he was given initially. But it is my understanding that the Edinburgh dukedom was planned from the start, and the plan was based on the assumption that Philip would live to a ripe old age, so that Edward would not become Duke of Edinburgh until he had himself reached a more mature age and "retired" from private employment. And that is indeed proving the case, as Philip seems to be destined to live 100 years!

By the way, Edward will remain Earl of Wessex even after he becomes Duke of Edinburgh. The Wessex title will be his “secondary title.” Most noble titles above the rank of Baron have secondary titles attached to them. Once the holder of the primary title has a son and heir, the secondary title is usually held by that son during his father’s lifetime. Thus the current Duke of Bedford’s four-year-old son is known by his father’s secondary title, Marquess of Tavistock, while the Earl of Snowdon’s son is known by the secondary title Viscount Linley.

The Duchy of Lancaster does indeed still exist. The title became part of the "Crown dignity" (or titles held by the monarch) when Henry V, who was Prince of Wales and Duke of Lancaster, became king. He and his descendants and successors to the crown kept the estates of the Duchy of Lancaster as Crown lands. Thus Elizabeth II is today the "Duke of Lancaster" (not Duchess). The Duchy is comprised of about 45,000 acres of lands that include huge chunks of the City of London. It has a value of about 400 million pounds. The Duchy provides a large private revenue stream for the monarch, apart from the Civil List.

PhD Historian said...

As for “creation,” Denise, when a title is first granted to someone, it is said that they are "created" Duke of This or Earl of That. It is archaic terminology that refers to the monarch "creating" a new social rank, title, and dignity and title for a person and his descendants where that title had (usually) not been held by the same family in the past. The idea stems from the ancient feudal notion that the social orders are ordained by heaven and that one is born to a specific social station that can be changed only by divine intervention. The monarch, as god's anointed earthly secular representative, is the source of all honors within the realm, and only he/she has the "god-like" power to permanently increase the rank and social status of a man and his family. Thus the monarch, acting in god’s place, "creates" a new social position for a person.

PhD Historian said...

In the more distant past, the “creation” of a title was indeed accompanied by the granting or gifts of lands of sufficient value to provide an income appropriate to the new rank. Earls usually received more lands than did barons, while marquesses received more lands than earls. The lands were usually specifically attached, or “entailed” (see above), to the title itself, so that whomever inherited the title also inherited the land. Since the 17th century, however, it has been less feasible for the Crown to grant big chunks of lands to go along with the many newly created titles. As noted before, there was an “explosion” of titles in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. If the Crown gave away lands sufficient to provide an income for all of the holders of those individual titles, the Crown itself would have no lands left, and thus no income. There is, after all, only a limited amount of land available in the British Isles!

Therefore titles began to be granted mostly to those who already had the high economic status, but not the high social rank. Titles were even sold, with the new holder actually paying the Crown for the title (that practice was relatively short-lived in England).

Today, new titles above the rank of life-peer (so-called “life barons”) are quite rare. When they are granted, they are usually given to members of the royal family, so that any lands given actually remain “in the family” rather than going to a completely different family. In fact, I cannot think of any new title above the rank of baron that was created in the past 50-75 years and bestowed on someone outside the royal family, other than a dozen or so viscountcies and earldoms granted to wealthy former prime ministers and long-serving cabinet ministers.

PhD Historian said...

By the way, the shift in about 1965 to limiting peerages for former politicians to the holder's lifetime and making them non-inheritable came about specifically because of the "explosion" of titles in the 20th century. It became common practice to give a barony or viscountcy or earldom to retiring politicians, most of whom had sons to inherit the title. Had politicians continued to receive inheritable peerages, half of England would have been members of the nobility before long! With only two exceptions, no inheritable title has been created outside the royal family since 1965.

The exceptions are the Earldom of Stockton, created for the popular former Prime Minister Harold MacMillan in 1984, and the Viscountcy of Whitelaw, created for the sitting Conservative MP and Deputy Prime Minister William Whitelaw specifically so that he could become Leader of the House of Lords.

Anonymous said...

I'm a tiny bit confused with all this information . . . So when Prince Charles becomes king (if he ever does) I know William will be Prince of Wales, but will Prince Harry take Prince Andrew's title of Duke of York?

PhD Historian said...

LOL ... apologies for overwhelming you, Anonymous. But I do agree, the issue of titles can be very confusing.

When and if Charles becomes king, William might become Prince of Wales, but only if "King Charles" specifically grants him the title, in writing. It will not happen automatically.

As for Harry, he cannot become Duke of York unless the current Duke of York, Prince Andrew dies first and leaves behind no male children. As long as Andrew is still alive, "King Charles" will have to find a different title for Harry, something other than Duke of York.

Euphrosyne said...

Regarding the passage that reads "Prior to the present reign, many wives of sons and grandsons of the monarch were called 'Princess.' But among the three daughters-in-law of the present Queen, only Diana was styled Princess, by virtue of being the wife of the Prince of Wales. Sarah was and remains Duchess of York, and Sophie is Countess of Wessex. Neither can rightly be called 'Princess.'"

I had also read that the guiding principle in all such cases is British common-law: A woman has the right to the use of her husband's name and style. During the term of her marriage, the late Princess of Wales had the right to call herself "H.R.H. Princess Charles" a right she chose not to exercise. Similarly, it would seem, during the term of her marriage, the former Duchess of York had the right to call herself "H.R.H. Princess Andrew." In each case, however, the husband had been invested with a royal apanage title; it would appear that these carry more dignity than even the title of Prince. In any case, if they have one, protocol seems to favor referring to princes by their apanage titles. Hence the ladies were nearly always known by those titles: H.R.H. the Princess of Wales and H.R.H. the Duchess of York.

This is all just my impression. I could be wrong.

PhD Historian said...

You point out yet another complication, Euphrosyne, one that I was trying to avoid even mentioning because it is so confusing.

When a male of royal blood who is rightly styled "Prince" but who has no other "apanage" (titles and estates created specifically to provide an inheritance) marries, the wife is rightly known by her husband's "Christian" or forename. Thus the wife of Prince Michael of Kent, himself a grandson of George V but with no other titles, is correctly known as "Princess Michael," not "Princess Marie Christine." Similarly, had Prince Andrew not been created Duke of York on the day before his marriage to Sarah Ferguson, she would have been known as "the Princess Andrew," not "the Princess Sarah."

The right to use "H.R.H." is governed directly and solely by the Crown, not by common law. And while most women usually have the right to use the style and title of their husband, it is my understanding that it is within the prerogative of the Crown to deny that usage at any time for any reason. There was speculation (hope?) among the more avid Diana-fans that Camilla would be denied the use of "H.R.H." when she married Charles, but that did not happen. However, in consultation with the Crown she did agree to relinquish any claim to the title "Princess of Wales" in deference to the memory her new stepsons' deceased mother. She is instead "H.R.H. the Duchess of Cornwall."

In Letters Patent issued by George V in 1917, it does appear that the wives of princes do indeed have the option of being styled "Princess [husband's forename]." The decision to use the apanage dignity is no doubt influenced by issues of precendence. In asserting their dignity as a princess with additional royal titles (e.g., royal dukedoms), they would take precendence before a princess asserting only her princely dignity. I other words, a woman who claims both the "HRH" by virtue of marriage to a prince of the royal blood and the style and title of a royal dukedom has precedence over a woman who claims to be "only" the wife of a prince. More titles equals greater precedence. And in courtly circles, precedence is everything.

emma said...

Sorry if you have covered this one and I missed it, as i know the first question was about kings sons which has expanded into a great topic thanks to all you experts.

But what will happen to the titles of Princess Beatrice of York and Princess Eugenie of York, when they marry?
also what tittle if any will there husbands have?

PhD Historian said...

You did not miss anything, Emma, so no apology necessary.

If historical precedent is followed, Beatrice and Eugenie will continue to be styled "Princess" even after their marriages, assuming they marry non-titled males. Their children, however, will not be entitled to that honor.

Like Beatrice and Eugenie, their distant cousin Princess Alexandra is also the granddaughter of a monarch and thus entitled to be called "HRH the Princess Alexandra." She married Angus Ogilvy, the second son of an earl, who had no title in his own right. And though Angus was styled "The Honourable," that title was consistent with long-established practice of referring to non-heir sons of the nobility by the courtesy honorific "Honorable." The honorific was not connected in any way to his marriage to Princess Alexandra. Thus if either Beatrice or Eugenie should marry a person with no title in his (or her!) own right, their spouse would be known as simply "Mr. Surname."

Also, we might look to the precendent set by Princess Anne's two successive marriages. Neither Mark Phillips nor Timothy Laurence received any special titles or dignities by virtue of their marriage to the Princess, even after her elevation to the title Princess Royal in 1987.

Of course, if either Beatrice or Eugenie should happen to marry a man with a noble title, they will add that title to their existing title as "Princess." For example, if Beatrice marries a viscount, she would become "HRH the Princess Beatrice, Viscountess Whatever." Princess Margaret was properly styled "HRH the Princess Margaret, Countess Snowdon" because her husband was specially created Earl of Snowdon at the time of their marriage.

If either Beatrice or Eugenie should happen to marry a titled female (since same-sex civil unions are now legal in the UK), neither princess would gain an additional title, since titles of honor and nobility are still shared only by heterosexually married couples.

emma said...

of course thanks it makes sense and why i didn't see it i don't know thanks PhD historian.

i have also been following the question on surnames and picking up from my question yes their surnames are known as york not Windsors as this period in time will be known as.