Heritage

Rules of Dukedom: How Does One Become a Duke?

The process of becoming a duke is simple.
IMAGE DAN MARSH/ USAID/ Vietnam/ GFDL/ ALLAN WARREN/ WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
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In the United Kingdom, a duke is part of the peerage, a group originally composed of men born with royal blood.

Other than “Duke,” other titles under the peerage are “Marquess,” “Earl,” “Viscount,” and “Baron.”

The first duke was created by Edward III of England in 1337, when he gave his son, Edward of Woodstock, commonly referred to as “The Black Prince,” the title of “Duke of Cornwall.”

Though there are currently 30 dukes in the peerages of the Queen’s territories, the most notable ones are Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh; Prince Charles, Duke of Cornwall (but his precedent title is Prince of Wales); Prince William, Duke of Cambridge; Prince Andrew, Duke of York; Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester; and Prince Edward, Duke of Kent. The process of becoming a duke is simple.


Prince Charles, Duke of Cornwall

Here are the rules of dukedom:

You cannot buy a dukedom.

Only the Crown has the ability to make one a duke by way of the letters patent, a piece of parchment with the Great Seal. Although there are sites that offer to provide you with a title in exchange for a certain amount of cash, this is for nothing more than the process to change your name.

Edward III of England created the Dukedom when he gave his son, Edward of Woodstock the title of “Duke of Cornwall.”

The dukedom can only be inherited by legitimate male heirs.

The only exception is when the letters patent includes a special remainder, stating that the title can be passed on to a daughter, sibling, cousin, or another member of the family. This remainder is usually given to one who does not have male sons.


Prince William, Duke of Cambridge

Sons of the reigning monarch are traditionally given dukedoms upon marriage.

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In the case of Prince Edward, Queen Elizabeth II’s youngest son, he reportedly chose to be the Earl of Wessex because he was inspired by a character with the same name in the film Shakespeare in Love. According to Debrett’s, the dukedom of Edinburgh will be bestowed upon him when the title reverts to The Crown.


Prince Philip, current Duke of Edinburgh and father of Prince Edward

Prince William, the Queen’s grandson and third in line to the throne, was given the title “Duke of Cambridge” when he married Kate Middleton, now Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. It is also assumed that Prince Harry will become a duke on his wedding day in May.

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