Duke of Kent

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Dukedom of Kent
Coat of Arms of Edward, Duke of Kent.svg
Creation date 12 October 1934
Created by George V
Peerage Peerage of the United Kingdom
First holder HRH The Prince George,
1st Duke of Kent
Present holder HRH Prince Edward,
2nd Duke of Kent
Heir apparent George Windsor, Earl of St Andrews
Remainder to the 1st Duke's heirs male of the body lawfully begotten
Subsidiary titles Earl of St Andrews
Baron Downpatrick

The Duke of Kent is a title which has been created various times in the peerages of Great Britain and the United Kingdom, most recently as a royal dukedom for the fourth son of George V. As of 1942, the title is held by Prince Edward.

HRH Prince Edward, the current Duke of Kent

Earliest history[edit]

A title associated with Kent first appears anciently with the Kingdom of Kent (or Cantware), one of the seven Anglo-Saxon kingdoms that later merged to form the Kingdom of England. The Kings of Cantware (or Kent) date back to about 449. After 825, when the Kingdom of Kent was taken over by Egbert, King of Wessex, Kent became a dependency of Wessex and was ruled by sub-kings, usually related to the Wessex rulers. The titular kingship became something like the heir-apparent's title, as Aethelwulf, Egbert's son, became King of Kent in 825. By 860, Kent lost its status as a kingdom, becoming absorbed into Wessex.[1]

Earls of Kent[edit]

Main article: Earl of Kent

In the peerage of England the first title of Kent was that of the Earl of Kent. After the death of his father, Godwin the Earl of Wessex, Leofwine (c. 1035–1066), sometime between 1056 and 1058, became Earl of Kent, a new earldom at the time.[2] It is possible that Godwin was the first Earl of Kent, since he ruled over that area as well as many others.

After Leofwine's death at Hastings in 1066, William the Conqueror named his half-brother, Odo of Bayeux (c. 1036–1097), who was also Bishop of Bayeux, the new Earl of Kent. However, Odo was twice removed from this title. The first occasion was in 1082, when he was imprisoned; the second was in 1088, after aiding in the Rebellion of 1088, after which he fled England.

It was not until 1141 that the title returned, this time for William de Ipres; but he was deprived of the title in 1155. In 1227 it was revived for Hubert de Burgh, but became extinct with his death. In 1321, it was again revived for Edmund of Woodstock, and through the marriage of Joan Plantagenet to Thomas Holland, the title passed to the Holland family, which held the title until 1408. In 1461 it was revived for William Neville, and then in 1465 for Edmund Grey. The Grey family held the title until Henry Grey died without male heirs.

Marquess, then Duke of Kent[edit]

Henry Grey (1671–1740) succeeded his father, Anthony Grey, as the 12th Earl of Kent in 1702. In 1706, he was elevated to Marquess of Kent, along with Earl of Harold and Viscount Goderich. In 1710 he was elevated once again as Duke of Kent, and following the death of his sons, Marquess Grey (1740) with a special remainder to his granddaughter. Henry had one son and five daughters with his first wife, Jemima Crew (d. 1728), and one son and one daughter with his second wife, Sophia Bentinck (d. 1741). By the time of Henry's death in 1740, both of his sons had died, Anthony (in 1723) and George (in 1733), leaving the Duke of Kent without a male heir. His granddaughter Lady Jemima Campbell would inherit two titles in her own right, Marchioness Grey and Baroness Lucas; but all Henry's other titles, particularly Duke of Kent, became extinct with his death.

Royal dukedom, 1799[edit]

On 23 April 1799 the double dukedom of Kent and Strathearn was given, with the earldom of Dublin, to King George III's fourth son, Prince Edward Augustus. Edward had only one child, a daughter, Princess Alexandrina Victoria (the future Queen Victoria). Upon Edward's death in 1820, the dukedom of Kent and Strathearn became extinct, as he had no legitimate male heir.

Royal earldom, 1866[edit]

The next creation of a title of Kent, was not that of Duke or Marquess, but rather that of Earl, with the creation of Prince Alfred (1844–1900), the second son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, as Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Ulster, and of Kent in 1866. The Duke of Edinburgh (who later became the reigning Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha) had only one son, Prince Alfred, who would have probably inherited the title of Earl of Kent, among his father's other titles, had he not died before his father in 1899. With Prince Alfred's death in 1900, Kent's title became extinct.

Royal dukedom, 1934[edit]

In 1934, Prince George (1902–1942), the fourth son of King George V of the United Kingdom and Queen Mary, was created Duke of Kent, Earl of St Andrews and Baron Downpatrick. Prince George had three children before his death in 1942: Prince Edward, Princess Alexandra, and Prince Michael. Prince Edward, upon his father's death, succeeded to his father's peerages.

The current Duke of Kent has two sons. King George V's Letters Patent of 30 November 1917 restricted the style Royal Highness and the titular dignity of Prince to the sons of the Sovereign, the male line grandsons of the Sovereign, and the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales. Great grandchildren of the Sovereign in the male line enjoy the courtesy titles of the children of dukes. Therefore, the heir apparent to the dukedom of Kent (or properly the 1934 creation of it), is George, Earl of St. Andrews (b. 1962). The Earl of St. Andrews married in 1988, and has three children. His son Lord Downpatrick (b. 1988) is second in line to his grandfather's peerages. When Lord St. Andrews succeeds, the dukedom will cease to be a Royal dukedom; as a great-grandson of a sovereign he will be styled His Grace The Duke of Kent. After Lord St. Andrews and Lord Downpatrick, the current duke's younger son Lord Nicholas Windsor is in remainder to the dukedom, as are the current duke's brother, Prince Michael of Kent, and his son, Lord Frederick Windsor.

Duties and other titles[edit]

The current Duke of Kent carries out numerous duties for the monarchy, both military and civil. He is the Grand Master of the English Freemasons, and has served as the President of The Scout Association of the United Kingdom since 1975[3] and of the Royal Institution.[4] He has performed a number of state visits to Commonwealth nations on behalf of the Queen. He has also acted as Counsellor of State. His Royal Highness is the Grand Prior (or Grand Master) of the Order of St Michael and St George. He holds numerous other appointments in the military. The Duke of Kent has been the patron of Endeavour, a national youth organisation, for 29 years.

The Duke of Kent holds the following subsidiary titles.

  • Earl of St Andrews
  • Baron Downpatrick

The elder son and heir of the Duke of Kent uses the earldom of St Andrews as a courtesy title. Lord St Andrews' son, in turn, uses the courtesy title Lord Downpatrick.

The younger son of the Duke of Kent is styled Lord Nicholas Windsor. As a Roman Catholic convert, he is barred from succession to the throne.

Coat of arms[edit]

The coat of arms anciently associated with Kent is that of a rampant white horse upon a red field. This is primarily associated with the Kingdom of Kent and possibly the earldom as well. Today, this is seen on the Council of Kent's arms and flag. As a direct descendant of Queen Victoria, this is not the coat of arms of the present Duke of Kent. The coat of arms of the Duke of Kent consists of the following:

  • Arms: those of the Royal Arms, differenced by a label of five points argent (silver, often depicted as white), the points charged with an anchor azure (blue) and a cross gules (red) alternately.
  • Crest: On a coronet of four crosses-patées alternated with four strawberry leaves a lion statant guardant or (gold), crowned with the like coronet and differenced with a label as in the Arms.
  • Supporters: The Royal Supporters differenced with the like coronet (as in the crest) and label as in the arms.[5]

The standard of the Duke of Kent is a flag version of his arms.[6] The personal badge of the present Duke of Kent is 'E' encircled by the garter of the Order of the Garter, surmounted by a Type IV Princes coronet as in the Crest.

Residence[edit]

The Duke and Duchess of Kent currently live at Wren House in the grounds of Kensington Palace, but their office is based at York House at St. James's Palace.

Dukes of Kent[edit]

There have been three periods in which there has been a Duke of Kent, the first occurring in 1710, the second in 1799 as a joint dukedom, and the third and present period in 1934. Prior to these, the title existed as an earldom.

Further information: Earls of Kent

Dukes of Kent, first Creation (1710)[edit]

Other titles: Marquess of Kent (1706), Marquess de Grey (1740), Earl of Kent (1465), Earl of Harold and Viscount Goderich (1706) and Baron Lucas of Crudwell (1663)

Dukes of Kent and Strathearn (1799)[edit]

Further information: Duke of Kent and Strathearn

Dukes of Kent, second Creation (1934)[edit]

Other titles: Earl of St Andrews and Baron Downpatrick (1934)

Line of succession[edit]

  1. George Windsor, Earl of St Andrews (b. 26 June 1962), elder son of the 2nd Duke
  2. Edward Windsor, Lord Downpatrick (b. 2 December 1988), only son of Lord St Andrews
  3. Lord Nicholas Windsor (b. 25 July 1970), younger son of the 2nd Duke
  4. Albert Windsor Esq (b. 22 September 2007), eldest son of Lord Nicholas
  5. Leopold Windsor Esq (b. 8 September 2009), second son of Lord Nicholas
  6. Louis Windsor Esq (b. 27 May 2014), third son of Lord Nicholas
  7. Prince Michael of Kent (b. 4 July 1942), younger son of the 1st Duke
  8. Lord Frederick Windsor (b. 6 April 1979), only son of Prince Michael

George and Edward, as probable future Dukes of Kent, would as such be styled "His Grace".

Family Tree[edit]

Knights of the Garter[edit]

A number of the earls and dukes of Kent have also been knights of the Order of the Garter:

Earls of Kent[edit]

Dukes of Kent[edit]

Dukes of Kent and Strathearn[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

External links[edit]