Duke of Cornwall

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HRH The Prince of Wales, the current Duke of Cornwall

Duke of Cornwall is a title in the Peerage of England, traditionally held by the eldest son of the reigning British monarch. The Duchy of Cornwall was the first duchy created in England[citation needed] and was established by royal charter in 1337. The present duke is the Prince of Wales, the eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II. His wife, Camilla, is the current Duchess.

History[edit]

Some folkloric histories of the British Isles, such as Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain (1136), claim that the first leader of Cornwall was Corineus, a Trojan warrior and ally of Brutus of Troy, the original settler of the British Isles. From this earliest period through the Arthurian period, the legendary Dukes of Cornwall are semi-autonomous if not independent from the High-King or ruler of Britain, while also serving as his closest ally and, at times, as his protector.[citation needed] According to legend, Gorlois, Duke of Cornwall under King Uther Pendragon, rebelled against the latter's rule when the king became obsessed with Gorlois' wife Igraine. Uther killed Gorlois and took Igraine: the result of their union was the future King Arthur.

The historical record suggests that, following the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain, Cornwall formed part of the separate Kingdom of Dumnonia, which included Devon, although there is evidence that it may have had its own rulers at times. The southwest of Britain was gradually incorporated into the emerging Kingdom of England, and after the Norman Conquest in 1066 the new rulers of England appointed their own men as Earl of Cornwall, the first of whom was in fact a Breton of 'Cornwall' in Brittany. Edward, the Black Prince, the eldest son of Edward III, was made the first Duke of Cornwall in 1337. After Edward predeceased the King, the duchy was recreated for his son, the future Richard II. Under a charter of 1421, the duchy passes to the sovereign's eldest son. Cornwall was the first dukedom conferred within the Kingdom of England, although the Dukes of Normandy (King of England), Brittany (Earl of Richmond) and Aquitaine (Duke of Lancaster) held substantial estates and fiefs within England, being based in France.

Succession[edit]

The dukedom of Cornwall can only be held by the oldest living son of the monarch who is also heir apparent. In the event of a Duke of Cornwall's death, the title merges in the Crown even if he left surviving descendants.[citation needed] The monarch's grandson, even if he is the heir apparent, does not succeed to the dukedom. Similarly, no female may ever be Duke of Cornwall, even if she is heiress presumptive or heiress apparent to the throne. However, if a Duke of Cornwall should die without descendants, his next brother obtains the duchy, this brother being both oldest living son and heir apparent.

It is possible for an individual to be Prince of Wales and heir apparent without being Duke of Cornwall. The title "Prince of Wales" is the traditional title of the heir apparent to the throne, granted at the discretion of the Sovereign,[1] and is not restricted to the eldest son.

For example, King George II's heir apparent, the future George III, was Prince of Wales, but not Duke of Cornwall (because he was the King's grandson, not the King's son). When the Sovereign has no legitimate son, the estates of the Duchy of Cornwall revert to the Crown until a legitimate son is born to the Sovereign or until the accession of a new Sovereign who has a son (e.g. between 1547 and 1603) (see more below).

James Francis Edward Stuart, son of James II, was born Duke of Cornwall in 1688. Although his father lost the throne, James Francis Edward was not deprived of his own honours. On a Jacobite perspective, on his father's death in 1701 the duchy of Cornwall was merged in the Crown. On a Hanoverian perspective, it was as a result of his claiming his father's lost thrones that James was attainted for treason on 2 March 1702, and his titles were thus forfeited under English law.[2]

The current Duke of Cornwall[edit]

The current Duke of Cornwall is Charles, Prince of Wales, eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II, the reigning monarch. Charles was officially proclaimed Duke of Cornwall at Launceston Castle in 1973. As part of his feudal dues there was 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.

Since their marriage, celebrated at the Guildhall in Windsor on 9 April 2005, Charles's second wife has used the style Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall rather than Princess of Wales.

Rights of the duke[edit]

Should there be no Duke of Cornwall at any time, the income of the Duchy goes to the Crown. The Duchy includes over 570 square kilometres of land, more than half of which lies in Devon. The Duke also has some rights over the territory of Cornwall, the county, and for this and other reasons there is debate as to the constitutional status of Cornwall. The High Sheriff of Cornwall is appointed by the Duke, not the monarch, in contrast to the other counties of England and Wales. The Duke has the right to the estates of all those who die without named heirs (bona vacantia) in the whole of Cornwall. A sturgeon caught in Cornwall is ceremonially offered to the Duke.[citation needed] The Duke has right of wreck on all ships wrecked on Cornish shores.[citation needed] In 2003, the Duchy earned £9,943,000, a sum that was exempt from income tax, though the Prince of Wales chose to pay the tax voluntarily.[citation needed] Since the passing into law of the Sovereign Grant Act 2011, revenues of the Duchy of Cornwall pass to the heir to the throne, regardless of whether that heir is the Duke of Cornwall. In the event that the heir is a minor, 10% of the revenues pass to the heir, with the balance passing to the Crown.[3]

Arms[edit]

Standard of the Duke of Cornwall

The Arms of the Duke of Cornwall are "sable fifteen bezants Or", that is, a black field bearing fifteen gold discs, representing coins. A small shield bearing these arms appears on the Prince of Wales' heraldic achievement, below the main shield. This symbol is also used by Cornwall Council to represent Cornwall. These arms were adopted late in the 15th century and are often surmounted by a Prince of Wales coronet, four crosses patée and four fleurs-de-lis with an arch. Supporters are not always used, though the Cornish Red-billed Chough and ostrich feathers are sometimes found. Rather than the motto used by the Prince of Wales (i.e., Ich Dien, German for "I serve"), the Duke of Cornwall's Coat of Arms uses the motto "Houmout" (meaning "honour" or "high-spirited"), derived from the Black Prince. The banner of the Duchy of Cornwall is simplified, showing the fifteen gold bezants on a black field.

Loyal Toast[edit]

Traditionally Cornish people refer to the Duke of Cornwall in the Loyal Toast, much like the Duke of Normandy in the Channel Islands.[4]

Dukes of Cornwall, 1337 creation[edit]

All Dukes of Cornwall who have been the eldest living son of the sovereign are generally considered to have held the same creation of the duchy. The following is a table of these Dukes of Cornwall, with the processes by which they became duke and by which they ceased to hold the title:

Duke of Cornwall Parent From To Other title held while Duke
Edward of Woodstock, "The Black Prince" Edward III 1337 (Parliament) 1376 (death) Prince of Wales (1343), Prince of Aquitaine (1362–1372), Earl of Chester (1333)
Henry of Monmouth Henry IV 1399 (Parliament) 1413 (acceded as Henry V) Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester (1399), Duke of Aquitaine (1390), Duke of Lancaster (1399)
Henry Henry V 1421 (birth) 1422 (acceded as Henry VI) Duke of Aquitaine (1390)
Edward of Westminster Henry VI 1453 (birth) 1471 (death) Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester (1454)
Edward Plantagenet, Prince of Wales Edward IV 1470 (charter) 1483 (acceded as Edward V) Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester (1471), Earl of March (1479), Earl of Pembroke (1479)
Edward of Middleham, 1st Earl of Salisbury Richard III 1483 (father's accession) 1484 (death) Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester (1483), Earl of Salisbury (1478)
Arthur Tudor Henry VII 1486 (birth) 1502 (death) Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester (1489)
Henry Tudor, 1st Duke of York Henry VII 1502 (death of brother Arthur) 1509 (acceded as Henry VIII) Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester (1504), Duke of York (1494–1504)
Henry Henry VIII 1511 (birth) 1511 (death)
Henry Henry VIII 1514 (birth) 1514 (death)
Edward Tudor Henry VIII 1537 (birth) 1547 (acceded as Edward VI) Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester (1537)
Henry Frederick James I 1603 (father's accession) 1612 (death) Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester (1610), Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick and Baron Renfrew (1469), Lord of the Isles (1540), Prince and Great Steward of Scotland (1469) (The italicised henceforth "Duke of Rothesay, etc (1469 & 1540)")
Prince Charles, 1st Duke of York, 1st Duke of Albany James I 1612 (death of brother Henry) 1625 (acceded as Charles I) Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester (1616), Duke of Rothesay, etc. (1469 & 1540), Duke of Albany (1600), Duke of York (1605), Marquess of Ormond, Earl of Ross, Lord Ardmannoch (1600)
Prince Charles James Charles I 1629 (birth) 1629 (death) Duke of Rothesay, etc. (1469 & 1540)
Prince Charles Charles I 1630 (birth) 1649 (acceded as Charles II) Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester (1638), Duke of Rothesay, etc. (1469 & 1540)
Prince James Francis Edward James II 1688 (birth) 1702 (attainted) Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester (1688–1702), Duke of Rothesay, etc. (1469–1702 & 1540–1702)
The Prince George, 1st Duke of Cambridge George I 1714 (father's accession) 1727 (acceded as George II) Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester (1714), Hereditary Prince of Hanover, Duke of Rothesay, etc. (1469 & 1540), Duke of Cambridge, Marquess of Cambridge, Earl of Milford Haven, Viscount Northallerton, Baron Tewkesbury (1706)
The Prince Frederick, 1st Duke of Edinburgh George II 1727 (father's accession) 1751 (death) Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester (1729), Duke of Rothesay, etc. (1469 & 1540), Duke of Edinburgh, Marquess of Ely, Earl of Eltham, Viscount Launceston, Baron Snowdon (1726)
The Prince George George III 1762 (birth) 1820 (acceded as George IV) Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester (1762), Duke of Rothesay, etc. (1469 & 1540)
The Prince Albert Edward Victoria 1841 (birth) 1901 (acceded as Edward VII) Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester (1841), Duke of Rothesay, etc. (1469 & 1540), Earl of Dublin (1850)
The Prince George, 1st Duke of York Edward VII 1901 (father's accession) 1910 (acceded as George V) Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester (1901), Duke of Rothesay, etc. (1469 & 1540), Duke of York, Earl of Inverness, Baron Killarney (1892)
The Prince Edward George V 1910 (father's accession) 1936 (acceded as Edward VIII) Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester (1910), Duke of Rothesay, etc. (1469 & 1540)
The Prince Charles Elizabeth II 1952 (mother's accession) Current Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester (1958), Duke of Rothesay, etc. (1469 & 1540)

Additional details appear in Cokayne, George Edward, The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant, A. Sutton, Gloucester, 1982. [orig. 13 volumes, published by The St. Catherine Press Ltd, London, England from 1910–1959; reprinted in microprint: 13 vol. in 6, Gloucester: A. Sutton, 1982]

Dukes of Cornwall, 1376 creation[edit]

When his heir-apparent Edward of Woodstock, Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall predeceased him, Edward III granted Woodstock's son Richard a new creation of the title Duke of Cornwall. When Richard acceded the throne as Richard II in 1377, this creation merged to the crown.

also Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester (1376)

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The heir apparent is not automatically Prince of Wales
  2. ^ Complete Peerage: 'Duke of Cornwall'
  3. ^ UK Treasury page on the Sovereign Grant Act
  4. ^ Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons Official Report, Standing Committees Session 1972–73, Volume VI, H.M. Stationery Office.

External links[edit]