Duchess of York
|Duchess of York|
|Style||Her Royal Highness
|Appointer||The Monarch of Great Britain and Northern Ireland|
|Term length||Life tenure or Until appointment as Queen consort of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth realms or Remarriage|
|Inaugural holder||Infanta Isabella of Castile|
Duchess of York is the principal courtesy title held by the wife of the Duke of York. The title is gained with marriage alone and is forfeited upon divorce. Three of the eleven Dukes of York either did not marry or had already assumed the throne prior to marriage, whilst two of the dukes married twice, therefore there have only ever been ten Duchesses of York. It is said that the positions of Duke and Duchess of York are cursed, because the title is created every time, or these women become queen consorts.
Duchesses of York
The ten Duchesses of York (and the dates the individuals held that title) are as follows:
- Infanta Isabella of Castile (1372–1392) – The wife of Edmund of Langley, Isabella predeceased her husband and died at Kings Langley Manor House in Hertfordshire, England.
- Joan Holland (1393–1402) – Edmund of Langley's second wife, Joan survived her husband and went on to marry three other noblemen: William de Willoughby, 5th Lord Willoughby de Eresby; Henry Scrope, 3rd Baron Scrope of Masham; and Henry Bromflete, 1st Lord Vessy.
- Philippa de Mohun (1402-1415) – A twice widowed noblewoman, she married Edward of Norwich, 2nd Duke of York, Duke of Albemarle. Her two previous husbands were Walter FitzWalter and Sir John Golafre.
- Cecily Neville (1425–1460) – Cecily married Richard Plantagenet and survived her husband and all four sons, entering into a largely religious life and dying in 1495 after receiving a papal indulgence.
- Anne de Mowbray, 8th Countess of Norfolk (1478–1481) – Anne was the child bride of Richard of Shrewsbury, one of the Princes in the Tower. She did not survive her young husband and died at the age of nine.
- Lady Anne Hyde (1660–1671) – Anne predeceased her husband James before he became King, having contracted breast cancer. Her Protestant daughters became, successively, Queen Mary II and Queen Anne; since James was also Duke of Albany, Lady Anne was both Duchess of York and Duchess of Albany.
- Mary of Modena (1673–1685) - Later Queen Mary, the second wife of James II of England. Although she was a Roman Catholic and bore him a son James Francis Edward Stuart, because of his religion he did not succeed and instead was supplanted jointly by her stepdaughter Mary II and Mary II's husband William III. Mary of Modena's direct descendants were known as the Jacobites and remain so to this day. Mary was also both Duchess of York and Duchess of Albany.
- Princess Mary of Teck (1893–1901) – Princess Mary became Duchess of Cornwall and York when her grandmother-in-law Queen Victoria died on 22 January 1901 and her husband became heir apparent. On 9 November of that year she became Princess of Wales when her husband was created Prince of Wales. Princess Mary became Queen Consort on 6 May 1910 when her husband succeeded to the throne as George V.
- Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (1923–1936) – Known as The Smiling Duchess, she became Queen Consort when her husband succeeded to the throne on 10 December 1936 as George VI following the abdication of his elder brother, Edward VIII.
- Sarah Ferguson (1986–1996) - Considered a close friend of Diana, Princess of Wales, she was introduced to the second eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Andrew, whom she married on 23 July 1986. Following their high-profile marriage and divorce, she became known as Sarah, Duchess of York (the proper address for divorced wives of peers). In addition, she lost the style of Royal Highness as well as all other dignities related to the title of British princess. It is also important to note that since their divorce, it is merely a courtesy style which she holds and that she is no longer THE Duchess of York (this title would be accorded to any future wife of Prince Andrew). Therefore she is also not a peeress nor entitled to the style 'Her Grace'. If Sarah, Duchess of York remarries, any use of the style Duchess of York will be lost permanently.
In 1791, Princess Frederica Charlotte of Prussia (1791–1820) married Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany (second son of King George III); she thus became HRH The Duchess of York and Albany. Her husband held one double dukedom (of York and Albany) rather than two. The Duchess received a warm welcome to Great Britain but following a troubled relationship with her husband, the couple separated. The two previous Dukes of York and Albany had never married; since her husband was the last Duke of York and Albany, Frederica was the only Duchess with that double title.
- ThePeerage.com; A source for peerage information
- Princesses of Wales by Deborah Fisher. University of Wales Press, 2005.