History of the Titles of the Prince of Wales: Part V


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IMG_4171Earl is a title of the nobility. The title is of Anglo-Saxon in origin, akin to the Scandinavian form jarl, which meant “chieftain”, particularly a chieftain set to rule a territory in a king’s absence. However, for a time period in Scandinavia, jarl could also mean a sovereign prince. Prior to the unification of Norway there were rulers of several of the petty kingdoms of Norway that had the title of jarl and in many cases they had power identical to their neighbors who held the title of king. In modern Britain, an earl is a member of the peerage, ranking below a duke and marquess and above a baron and a viscount. A feminine form of earl never developed and instead the wife of an earl is called a countess.

An earl in medieval Britain was more akin to a duke and as time moved forward it devolved into equivalent of the continental count which was seen as a lesser title. Alternative names for the rank equivalent to “Earl/Count” in the nobility structure are used in other countries, such as the hakushaku of the post-restoration Japanese Imperial era.

In Anglo-Saxon England, when earls held the power equivalent to that of a duke, an earl had authority over their own regions and right of judgment in provincial courts, as delegated of the king, and originally functioned essentially as royal governors. Another role an earl had was that they collected fines and taxes and in return received one-third of the money they collected. In wartime they led the king’s armies. Some shires were grouped together into larger units known as earldoms, headed by an ealdorman or earl. Under Edward the Confessor earldoms like Wessex, Mercia, East Anglia and Northumbria—names that represented earlier independent kingdoms—were much larger than any shire. As stated earlier the title of Earl was nominally equal to that of a duke, specifically a continental duke. However, the main difference was that continental dukes held a measure of sovereignty and earls in were not de facto rulers in their own right, they remained vassals of the king under the feudal system.

Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, KG, PC (10 November 1565 – 25 February 1601)

After the Norman Conquest, William the Conqueror tried to rule England using the traditional feudal system but eventually modified it to his own liking. Shires became the largest secular subdivision in England and earldoms al but completely vanished. The Normans did create new earls like those of Herefordshire, Shropshire, and Cheshire but they were associated with only a single shire at most. Their power and regional jurisdiction was limited to that of the Norman counts. There was no longer any administrative layer larger than the shire, and shires became “counties”. Earls no longer aided in tax collection or made decisions in country courts and their numbers dwindled.

King Stephen increased the number of earls to reward those loyal to him in his civil war with his cousin Empress Matilda. It was during the reign of King Stephen that earls once again returned to a more powerful status. He gave some earls the right to hold royal castles or control the sheriff and soon other earls assumed these rights themselves. By the end of his reign, some earls held courts of their own and even minted their own coins, against the wishes of the king.

It fell to Stephen’s successor Henry II to again curtail the power of the earls. He took back the control of royal castles and even demolished castles that earls had built for themselves. He did not create new earls or earldoms. No earl was allowed to remain independent of royal control.

The English kings had found it dangerous to give additional power to an already powerful aristocracy, so gradually sheriffs assumed the governing role. The details of this transition remain obscure, since earls in more peripheral areas, such as the Scottish Marches and Welsh Marches and Cornwall, retained some viceregal powers long after other earls had lost them. The loosening of central authority during the Anarchy also complicates any smooth description of the changeover.

Their Royal Highnesses The Earl and Countess of Wessex.

By the 13th century, earls had a social rank just below the king and princes, but were not necessarily more powerful or wealthier than other noblemen. The only way to become an earl was to inherit the title or marry into one—and the king reserved a right to prevent the transfer of the title. By the 14th century, creating an earl included a special public ceremony where the king personally tied a sword belt around the waist of the new earl, emphasizing the fact that the earl’s rights came from the King.

Earls still held influence and, as “companions of the king”, were regarded as supporters of the king’s power. They showed that power for the first time in 1327 when they deposed Edward II. They would later do the same with other kings of whom they disapproved. In 1337 Edward III declared that he intended to create six new earldoms.

Earls, land and titles

A loose connection between earls and shires remained for a long time after authority had moved over to the sheriffs. An official defining characteristic of an earl still consisted of the receipt of the “third penny”, one-third of the revenues of justice of a shire, that later became a fixed sum. Thus every earl had an association with some shire, and very often a new creation of an earldom would take place in favour of the county where the new earl already had large estates and local influence.

Also, due to the association of earls and shires, the medieval practice could remain somewhat loose regarding the precise name used: no confusion could arise by calling someone earl of a shire, earl of the county town of the shire, or earl of some other prominent place in the shire; these all implied the same. So there were the “earl of Shrewsbury” (Shropshire), “earl of Arundel”, “earl of Chichester” (Sussex), “earl of Winchester” (Hampshire), etc.

In a few cases the earl was traditionally addressed by his family name, e.g. the “earl Warenne” (in this case the practice may have arisen because these earls had little or no property in Surrey, their official county). Thus an earl did not always have an intimate association with “his” county. Another example comes from the earls of Oxford, whose property largely lay in Essex. They became earls of Oxford because earls of Essex and of the other nearby shires already existed. Eventually the connection between an earl and a shire disappeared, so that in the present day a number of earldoms take their names from towns, mountains, or simply surnames.

In England, as the centuries wore on, the term earl came to be disassociated from the office, and later kings started granting the title of earl without it, and gradually without even an associated comitatus. By the 16th century there started to be earls of towns, of villages, and even of isolated houses; it had simply become a label for marking status, rather than an office of intrinsic power. In 1746, in the aftermath of the Jacobite rising, the Heritable Jurisdictions Act brought the powers of the remaining ancient earldoms under the control of the sheriffs; earl is now simply a noble rank.

Forms of address

An earl has the title Earl of [X] when the title originates from a placename, or Earl [X] when the title comes from a surname. In either case, he is referred to as Lord [X], and his wife as Lady [X]. A countess who holds an earldom in her own right also uses Lady [X], but her husband does not have a title (unless he has one in his own right).

The eldest son of an earl, though not himself a peer, is entitled to use a courtesy title, usually the highest of his father’s lesser titles (if any), for instance the eldest son of The Earl Of Wessex is styled as James, Viscount Severn. Younger sons are styled The Honourable [Forename] [Surname], and daughters, The Lady [Forename] [Surname] (Lady Diana Spencer being a well-known example).

In the peerage of Scotland, when there are no courtesy titles involved, the heir to an earldom, and indeed any level of peerage, is styled Master of [X], and successive sons as younger of [X]

171BEEB4-14E5-4276-8189-B27ECD181F26A coronet of a British earl.

A British earl is entitled to a coronet bearing eight strawberry leaves (four visible) and eight silver balls (or pearls) around the rim (five visible). The actual coronet is mostly worn on certain ceremonial occasions, but an Earl may bear his coronet of rank on his coat of arms above the shield.

Former Prime Ministers
An earldom became, with a few exceptions, the default peerage to which a former Prime Minister was elevated. However the last Prime Minister to accept an earldom was Harold Macmillan, who became Earl of Stockton in 1984. In the 1970s life peerages (baronies) became the norm for former Prime Ministers, though none has accepted any peerage since Margaret Thatcher in 1992.


History of the Titles of the Prince of Wales: Part IV.


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The next title I will examine is that of Duke. A duke (male) or duchess (female) can be a confusing title. A duke can be a monarch ruling over a duchy in their own right with sovereignty equal to that of a king or queen, though duke has been considered lesser title. A duke can also be a titled or a member of royalty or nobility, historically of highest rank below the monarch. The title originates comes from the Latin dux, which translates to “leader” a title first applied a military commander in Roman Republic who otherwise to did not have an official rank (particularly one of Germanic or Celtic origin). As the title and position evolved a duke came to mean the leading military commander of a province.

Duchy and dukedom

A duchy is the territory or geopolitical entity ruled by a duke. In Continental Europe (France, Holy Roman Empire, German Empire etc) a duchy was often a Sovereign or semi-Sovereign state where the ruling duke was the monarch. In the English system the title of duke has never been associated with independent rule in the British Isles. Therefore a duke was a title of nobility, called a dukedom, not duchy (excepting the Duchy of Cornwall and the Duchy of Lancaster, more on that later), and the holder did not rule over a territory, and as the political system evolved a duke was allowed to be a member of the House of Lords.

In Anglo-Saxon England, after the Roman Legions exited Britain the typical Roman political divisions were largely ignored and the highest political rank beneath that of king was ealdorman. The title ealdormen were referred to as duces (the plural of the original Latin dux). However, gradually with the Danish invasions of England the title ealdorman was replaced by the Danish eorl (later earl). After the Norman conquest, their power and regional jurisdiction was limited to that of the Norman counts. The titles of Earl and Baron became the most dominant until the reign of Edward III of England (1227-1277).

Edward III created the first English dukedom when he created his eldest son Edward, the Black Prince, Prince of Wales, as Duke of Cornwall in 1337. This creation was motivated by the loss of the title Duke of Normandy by the king. After the death of the Black Prince, the duchy of Cornwall passed to his nine-year-old son, who would eventually succeed his grandfather as Richard II.

The title of Duke of Lancaster was created by Edward III in 1351 for Henry of Grosmont, 4th Earl of Lancaster, a great-grandson of Henry III in the male line. He died in 1361 without a male heir and the peerage expired. The second creation was on November 13, 1362, for John of Gaunt, 1st Earl of Richmond, who was both the 1st Duke of Lancaster’s son-in-law and also fourth son of King Edward III. John had married Blanche of Lancaster, 6th Countess of Lancaster, daughter of Henry Grosmont and heiress to his estates. On the same day Edward III also created his second son, Lionel of Antwerp, as Duke of Clarence.

All five of Edward III’s surviving sons were created dukes but the last two were made duke’s by Edward III’s grandson and successor, Richard II. In 1385, Richard II invested his last two uncles with dukedoms on the same day. Thomas of Woodstock was named Duke of Gloucester and Edmund of Langley became Duke of York. From the Dukes of Lancaster and Dukes of York came the Houses of Lancaster and York respectively who’s descendants battled for the throne during the Wars of the Roses.

By 1483, a total of 16 ducal titles had been created: Those associated with the Royal Family were; Cornwall, Lancaster, Clarence, Gloucester, and York. Those dukedoms established for the nobility were; Ireland, Hereford, Aumale, Exeter, Surrey, Norfolk, Bedford, Somerset, Buckingham, Warwick and Suffolk. Some dukedoms became extinct, others had multiple creations, and those associated with the Royal Family merged with the crown upon the holder’s accession to the throne.

Charles Lennox, 1st Duke of Richmond, 1st Duke of Lennox, 1st Duke of Aubigny (illegitimate son of Charles II, King of England, Scotland and Ireland. (July 29, 1672 – May 27, 1723)

In the United Kingdom, the inherited position of a duke along with its dignities, privileges, and rights is a dukedom. However, Dukes in the United Kingdom are addressed as “Your Grace” and referred to as “His Grace”. Currently, there are thirty-five dukedoms in the Peerage of England, Peerage of Scotland, Peerage of Great Britain, Peerage of Ireland and Peerage of the United Kingdom, held by thirty different people, as three people hold two dukedoms and one holds three

Royal Dukedoms

A Royal Duke is a duke who is a member of the British Royal Family, entitled to the style of “His Royal Highness”. The current Royal Dukedoms are, in order of precedence:
* Duke of Lancaster, held by Elizabeth II
* Duke of Edinburgh, held by Prince Philip
* Duke of Cornwall (England) and Duke of Rothesay (Scotland), held by Prince Charles, Prince of Wales
* Duke of York, held by Prince Andrew
* Duke of Cambridge held by Prince William
* Duke of Sussex held by Prince Harry
* Duke of Gloucester, held by Prince Richard
* Duke of Kent, held by Prince Edward (who should not be confused with the Earl of Wessex)
With the exceptions of the dukedoms of Cornwall and Rothesay (which can only be held by the eldest son of the Sovereign), royal dukedoms are hereditary, according to the terms of the Letters Patent that created them, which usually contain the standard remainder to the “heirs male of his body”. The British monarch also holds and is entitled to the revenues of the Duchy of Lancaster, and within the borders of the County Palatine of Lancashire is by tradition saluted as “The Duke of Lancaster”. Even when the monarch is a Queen regnant, she does not use the title of Duchess.

Forms of address

* Begin: My Lord Duke
* Address: His Grace the Duke of _____
* Speak to as: Your Grace (formal and employees), Duke (social)
* Ceremonial, formal, or legal title: The Most High, Noble and Potent Prince His Grace [forename], Duke of _____


A British or Irish Duke is entitled to a coronet (a silver-gilt circlet, chased as jewelled but not actually gemmed) bearing eight conventional strawberry leaves on the rim of the circlet. The physical coronet is worn only at coronations. Any peer can bear his coronet of rank on his coat of arms above the shield.

History of the titles of the Prince of Wales: Part III


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During the Victorian era as the Royal Family expanded even more, requiring even further official standards in controlling the title of Prince and Princess in descent from the sovereign. On January 1864 came the birth of Prince Albert-Victor of Wales the eldest child of the Prince and Princess of Wales (later King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra) and grandson of the then reigning British monarch, Queen Victoria. Within a few weeks after the birth of Albert-Victor, her fourth grandchild but first male-line grandson, Queen Victoria issued letters patent which formally confirmed the Hanoverian practice of granting children and male-line grandchildren of the Sovereign the style “His Royal Highness” with the titular dignity of Prince or Princess of the United Kingdom prefixed to their respective Christian names.

The 1864 Letters Patent did not address the future styling of any great-grandchildren of the Sovereign or even further descendants. The Practice up until 1864 within in the House of Hanover, as we have seen, for descendants beyond grandchildren in the male line from the Sovereign was to grant them the style “His/Her Highness” and Prince or Princess of the United Kingdom. Queen Victoria handled further needs of regulation of titles on a case by case basis.

HRH Prince Albert-Victor, Duke of Clarence & Avondale

One example was in 1898. Prince Edward (future Edward VIII), Prince Albert (future George VI) and Princess Mary (future Princess Royal) the children of Prince George, Duke of York, (the eldest living son of the Prince of Wales) and born in 1894, 95 & 97 respectively, were customarily granted the titled Prince/Princess with the style of “His/Her Highness” as great-grandchildren of Queen Victoria in the male line. Since these members of the Royal Family were in direct line of succession to the Crown Queen Victoria issued Letters Patent, dated May 28, 1898, granting the children of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales the style of Royal Highness.

On November 9, 1905 King Edward VII’s 64th Birthday created his eldest daughter, Princess Louise, Duchess of Fife, with the title The Princess Royal, the highest honour bestowed on a female member of the royal family. On the same day the King declared that the two daughters of the Princess Royal, Alexandra and Maud, would be granted title of Princess and the style of Highness. Although they were not daughters of a royal duke, they were sometimes unofficially referred to with the territorial designation “of Fife.” Princess Maud and Alexandra, precedence immediately after all members of the royal family bearing the style of “Royal Highness”. Other than female members of the Royal Family that were Heiress Presumptive this is the only example of the title Prince/Princess being transferred through the female line. Princess Alexandra became Duchess of Fife in her own right and married her second cousin Prince Arthur of Connaught. Their only child would provide King George V opportunity to amend the 1864 Letters Patent.

HH Princess Alexandra, 2nd Duchess of Fife

HH Princess Maud, Countess of Southesk

Alastair Arthur, 2nd Duke of Connaught and Strathearn (August 9, 1914 – April 26, 1943) was the only child of Prince Arthur of Connaught and Princess Alexandra, 2nd Duchess of Fife. He was a great-grandson of Queen Victoria through his father and also her great-great-grandson through his mother. Upon his birth as a great-grandson of a Sovereign he enjoyed the style of “Highness” and the title of Prince of the United Kingdom. However, this would be short lived.

Also in 1914 King George V had an opportunity to once again amend the 1864 Letters Patent regarding the children of Ernest Augustus, Duke of Brunswick, a great-great-grandchild of George III. Letters Patent dated June 17, 1914 granted the title of prince and the style Highness to the children of Ernest Augustus, Duke of Brunswick as senior heir to the House of Hanover.

HG Alaister-Arthur, 2nd Duke of Connaught and Strathern

In 1917, with the United Kingdom in the midst of the Great War with the German Empire, and with anti-German sentiment in the air, George V issued a royal proclamation altering the name of the Royal House from the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to the House of Windsor and stripped members of the Royal Family of the usage of the German titles of Duke of Saxony, Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and the like.

This also prompted George V to issue new Letters Patent, dated November 20, 1917, which restructured of the royal styles and titles by restricting the titles of Prince or Princess and the style of Royal Highness to the children of the sovereign, the children of the sovereign’s sons, and the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales. This excluded Alastair-Arthur of Connaught who was a great-grandson of a former sovereign but was not the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales. He became simply Alistair-Arthur Windsor until he succeeded his grandfather as Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, and Earl of Sussex, on 1942. However, Alistair-Arthur did not enjoy his titles long and died in 1943 at the age of 28 “on active service” in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, in unusual circumstances.

The former reigning Duke of Brunswick, as head of the House of Hanover, refused to recognise the letters depriving himself and his children of the British and Irish princely styles and titles. Nothing further was said until 1931, when Ernest-Augustus, Duke of Brunswick (married to Augusta-Victoria, eldest daughter of Kaiser Wilhelm II) issued a decree, in the capacity as the head of the House of Hanover and senior male-line descendant of George III of the United Kingdom, stating that the members of the former Hanoverian royal family would continue to bear the title of Prince (or Princess) of Great Britain and Ireland with the style of Royal Highness. This title and style remains in use to this day by his descendants, including the current head of the House of Hanover, Ernst August, Prince of Hanover. The decree by the head of the House of Hanover is not legally recognised in the United Kingdom or Ireland, and the titles are used as titles of pretense.

The 1917 Letters Patent remains the law in regulating the style of His or Her Royal Highness and the title Prince/Princess of the United Kingdom. There have been amendments made since them most notably Letters Patent issued by Queen Elizabeth II on December 31, 2012, which gave the title Prince or Princess and style Royal Highness to all children of the Prince of Wales’s eldest son the Duke of Cambridge.

History of the Prince of Wales titles. Part II


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Since the time of the House of Tudor and through the times of the House of Stuart, when sons of the Sovereign were granted the courtesy title of Prince, questions of how far in the male line to extend the title was not an issue for grand children of the Sovereign in the male line hadn’t yet occurred. With the accession of King George I in 1714 and the Hanoverians, new situations arose.

First issue that George I faced in the need to regulate titles was with his siblings. Since they were not the sons of a British sovereign, they were German princes and sons of the Elector of Hanover, were they entitled to be prince or princess of Great Britain? King George I, as the “Font of All Honours” was able to grant peerage titles to his youngest brother, Ernest-Augustus. In 1716, Ernest-Augustus visited England where, on June 29, 1716, he was created Duke of York, Albany and Earl of Ulster. On April 30, 1718 (OS), he was created a Knight of the Garter together with his grand-nephew Frederick-Louis, later Prince of Wales. Another brother of George I, Prince Maximilian-William, converted to Catholicism, losing his place in the line of succession to the British throne and therefore didn’t receive any peerage titles. However, neither Ernest-Augustus or Maximilian-William were created Princes of Great Britain and remained Princes of Hanover and Dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg.


George I came to the throne a grandfather, his eldest son, future George II, had several children. The children of the Prince of Wales were given the title of Princes and Princesses, and the style of “Highness”.  This arrangement was changed in 1737 when George II granted his grandchildren, all children of his eldest son, Frederick-Louis, Prince of Wales the title Prince and Princess and their style was raised to “Royal Highness.” This occurrence was an exception and wouldn’t become formalized by letters patent until 1864 by Queen Victoria with the birth of Prince Albert-Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale, the eldest son of the future King Edward VII. 


George III’s reign also saw the first great-grandchildren of a sovereign in male line, Prince William-Frederick, 2nd duke of Gloucester and his sister, Sophia, were also nephew and niece of a sovereign. They were titled “Prince” and “Princess”, but were only styled “Highness. It is not absolutely clear, however, whether the title of Prince was due to being great-grandson of George II or nephew of George III. On July 22, 1816, Sophia’s brother Prince William-Frederick, Duke of Gloucester, married their cousin, Princess Mary, a daughter of George III. On their wedding day, the Prince Regent bestowed the style of Royal Highness on the Duke of Gloucester, Princess Mary was a Royal Highness by birth. The next day, the Duke of Gloucester’s sister Princess Sophia was also bestowed with this style, giving her equal rank with her brother.

Despite raising the Gloucesters to the style of Royal Highness, a tradition was emerging: all male-line descendants from the Sovereign were styled Prince/ss; children of the sovereign and the sovereign’s eldest son were Royal Highnesses, all others were Highnesses. The Letters Patent of 1864, which only deal directly with the style of Royal Highness, state the custom in the preamble: “Princes and Princesses of [the] Royal Family descended from and in lineal succession to the Crown as now established by law all bear the style and title of Highness”.

The statement does not say exactly who is a prince or princess.  But an opinion of the Lord Chancellor in July 1878 states that “there is not, in my opinion, any limit among those in Succession to the Throne within which the use of the style of Prince is to be confined, until some such limit is imposed by the Will of the Sovereign as the Fountain of all Honour”.  Queen Victoria cared enough about this opinion that, to put an end to controversies, she sent a copy to Garter King of Arms.

It is interesting to note that the Letters Patent of 1864 say “descended from and in lineal succession to the Crown”  It is impossible to state what the custom might have been for female-line descendants, since the habit of marrying daughters into foreign royal houses meant that no such descendants lived in Britain.  As of 1864, the first and only marriage of a prince or princess in Great Britain, had been that of the duke of Gloucester (great-grandson of George II) to the daughter of George III, in 1816. That marriage remained childless and if they had had children, those children would have been great-great grandchildren in the male line from the Sovereign and it would have been interesting to see what these children would have been styled.

It wouldn’t be until the early part of the 20th Century would the need once again arise to address what to call the great-grandchildren of a sovereign in male line. This time the results would be different. More on that in my next post.

History of the Prince of Wales titles.


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This is my first entry into looking at all the titles of the Prince of Wales. I will start with the of Prince, then we’ll look at the title of Duke and Earl etc. Then I’ll look at each specific title, Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall etc.

IMG_4171 HRH The Prince of Wales

In examining the origins of the title and position of Prince we go back to the ancient world. The Latin word prīnceps (older Latin *prīsmo-kaps, literally “the one who takes the first place/position”). Generally the Latin term prīnceps is also referred to as “First Citizen” and became the title of the informal leader of the Roman senate some centuries before the transition to empire, the princeps senatus.

Emperor Augustus established the formal position of monarch on the basis of principate, not dominion. He also tasked his grandsons as summer rulers of the city when most of the government were on holiday in the country or attending religious rituals, and, for that task, granted them the title of princeps. Historically, this is a first example of the title of Prince being granted as a courtesy title on members of the family.

From the days of the Roman Empire the title of Prince evolved in two ways. The most familiar is Prince being a male member of a monarch’s, or former monarch’s, family ranked below a king and above a duke. In some States of Europe the title of Prince is a title of nobility and for other states the title denotes sovereignty. Whether the title is used as a courtesy title for a member of a Royal Family or that as a Noble or one that denotes Sovereignty in his own right, the title is often hereditary and also regulated. The feminine equivalent is a princess.

Generically, prince refers to a member of a family that ruled by hereditary right, the title referring either to sovereigns or to cadets of a sovereign’s family. The term may be broadly used of persons in various cultures, continents or eras. In Europe, it is the title legally borne by dynastic cadets in monarchies, and borne by courtesy by members of formerly reigning dynasties.

Each country in Europe has its own rich history with the title of Prince and I will not delve into those here for my focus is the history of the title of Prince in Britain.

Who held the title of Prince?

To put it simply, the title “prince” is used throughout British history (England, Scotland, Wales etc) and has been used to mark descent from a sovereign.  Just who qualified for that title changed throughout the history of each of these realms. The further back we go in time the waters muddy to just who held these titles and how they were regulated. It wasn’t until 1714 do we see titles regulated in the manner we’re most familiar with as George I (1714-1727) shaped the British title system to conform to the way titles were regulated in Hanover and the rest of Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. Despite inaugurating this title system many ways George I regulated titles no longer exists as George V overhauled the system in 1917 which has remained basically the same since then.

IMG_9158 Henry VII King of England and Lord of Ireland.

It generally surprises people to learn that the use of Prince as courtesy style for sons of the Sovereign dates only to Henry VII (1485-1509). Prior to the Tudor period it’s been difficult to find the evidence to how the term Prince, or Princess was used. We all know the legends of Robin Hood and how when King Richard the Lion Heart was off on Crusade and the kingdom was ruled by the evil Prince John. Was John really called a “Prince” in his day, or is giving him that title a more recent and retroactive practice?

However, if the title of Prince didn’t become a courtesy title for the sons of the Sovereign until the reign of Henry VII, then it seems any association with the title Prince for earlier members of the Sovereigns family is a more modern or recent practice. Another interesting fact is that the usage of the title of Princess during the Tudor period was inconsistent. There is evidence that future Queen’s Mary I and Elizabeth I were sometimes referred to Princess Mary of Princess Elizabeth, and also the Lady Mary and the Lady Elizabeth. It wasn’t until the Restoration of Charles II (1660-1685) that daughters of the Sovereign were styled princesses.  Both sons and daughters of the Sovereign were styled Royal Highness from the time of the Restoration. 

IMG_0670 Charles II, King of England, Scotland and Ireland.

If the title of Prince was first a courtesy title for the sons of a Sovereign then the question arises how far in the male line should the title of Prince be extended? Grandsons? Great-grandson or even further? In Europe, the Holy Roman Empire for example, primogeniture took a while to be established therefore princely titles and titles of nobility were extended to all male descendants.

In France, during the 16th century, the title of Prince extended to all existing male-line descendents of kings.  This principle established in law as early as 1400 that agnates had a right of succession no matter how distant their kinship.  This differed from the the English style where succession rights were not always extended to male line descendants of the Sovereign. An example of this is with Henry VII who descended from John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster’s (son of Edward III 1327-1377) third marriage. Although the children of this union were born illegitimate they were subsequently legitimized but without succession rights.

In Britain the concept of “Prince of the Blood Royal, ” in imitation of the French style, makes its appearance. I’d also like to note that the title of Prince, as a courtesy title, is not a title that is granted to an individual like a peerage title (Duke, Earl & Marquess etc) but rather a style or appellation customarily used to indicate the relationship to the sovereign, and membership in the royal house. 

Now back to the question of how far to extend the Princely to more distant relatives in the male line? I speak of the male line because children would inherit surnames and all Princely titles and titles of Nobility from their father, therefore children would not inherent their mothers Royal titles. The only exception being when the mother/female is the Sovereign. 

The problem of styling grandchildren of the sovereign at the English court did not arise much during the Tudors and the Stuarts:

* the only grandchildren of Henry VII born during his lifetime were the children of his daughter Margaret and James IV of Scotland, born outside the realm and those children inherited their father’s Scottish titles.
* Henry VIII had no grandchildren
* Mary I and Elizabeth I had no children
* The only grandchildren of James I-VI born during his lifetime were the children of his daughter Elizabeth and the Elector Palatine, all born overseas, either Heidelberg or the Hague
* only two of those children, Prince Rupert and  Elizabeth, abbess of Herford, ever resided in Britain

* The only child of Charles I married during his lifetime was Mary, whose only son William (future William III-II) was born in the Hague in 1650, a year after Charles I’s death

Therefore, as you can see, there wasn’t an issue in how to style the grandchild born of the Sovereign during their lifetime because there wasn’t any! The problem didn’t arise until the late Stuarts, the with the children of the Duke of York (future James II-VII son of Charles I, brother of Charles II) and the children of Princess Anne (daughter of James II-VII sister of Mary II).  It appears that these grandchildren/nephews of sovereigns were titled
* “Prince” for grandsons in male line,
* “Lord” for grandsons in female line,
* “Lady” for granddaughters in either male or female line,
* and all were styled “Highness”.

Thus, at this stage, the style of Royal Highness remained the prerogative of children of a sovereign.

In order to keep this to a digestible level I’ll stop here and pick up later in the week.

The Titles of the Prince of Wales


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This post is to announce the new series I am working on.

HRH The Prince of Wales

The heir to the throne of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland holds the title Prince of Wales. However, A Prince of Wales also holds a number of additional titles. As heir apparent to the English/British throne he is—if the eldest living son of the monarch—Duke of Cornwall. As heir apparent to the Scottish throne he is Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland.

HRH Prince Frederick-Louis, Prince of Wales and Duke of Edinburgh

In my new series my plan is to take each title, Prince, Duke, Earl, Baron and Steward and to discuss the evolution and history of those specific titles. Once that is completed I will move on to discuss, individually, the evolution and history behind the specific titles Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland.


Edward the Black Prince, Prince of Wales

I believe this will be an informative and interesting series!!

On this date in History. July 17, 1918. Murder of the Czar and his family.


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Today is the 100th Anniversary of the Murder of Czar Nicholas II of Russia and his entire family. My apologies for being a day late.

Late on the night of July 16, Nicholas, Alexandra, their five childre, Olga, Tatiana, Marie, Anastasia and Alexei and four servants, personal physician Eugene Botkin, his wife’s maid Anna Demidova, and the family’s chef, Ivan Kharitonov, and footman, Alexei Trupp, were ordered to dress quickly and go down to the cellar of the house in which they were being held. There, the family and servants were arranged in two rows for a photograph they were told was being taken to quell rumors that they had escaped. Suddenly, a dozen armed men burst into the room and gunned down the imperial family in a hail of gunfire. Those who were still breathing when the smoked cleared were stabbed to death.






The Name Louis and the British Royal Family: Conclusion


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For the final and largest connection to the name Louis to the British Royal Family we turn to the Mountbatten family, also known as the House of Battenberg, the maternal side of the Duke of Edinburgh’s family which originates in the Landgraviate of Hesse-Darmstadt in the Holy Roman Empire. Here is a little background on the German Hessian dynasty.

IMG_3884 Royal Standard of the Grand Dukes of Hesse and By Rhine

The House of Hesse is a European dynasty, directly descended from the House of Reginar that were a family of magnates in Lower Lotharingia during the Carolingianand Ottonian period. They were the ancestors of the House of Brabant, Landgraves and later Dukes of Brabant, Dukes of Lothier and Dukes of Limburg. The Reginarid Brabant dynasty ended in 1355, leaving its duchies to the House of Luxembourg which in turn left them to the House of Valois-Burgundy in 1383. Junior branches of the male line include the medieval male line of the English House of Percy, Earls of Northumberland, and the German House of Hesse which ruled Hesse from 1264 until 1918 and still exist. Louis, or the German derivation, Ludwig, was a frequently used name within the dynasty.

In the early Middle Ages the territory of Hessengau, named after the Germanic Chatti tribes, formed the northern part of the German stem duchy of Franconia, along with the adjacent Lahngau. Upon the extinction of the ducal Conradines, these Rhenish Franconian counties were gradually acquired by Landgrave Louis I of Thuringia and his successors. The origins of the House of Hesse begin with the marriage of Sophie of Thuringia to Heinrich II, Duke of Brabant from the House of Reginar. Sophia of Thuringia was daughter of Louis IV, Landgrave of Thuringia and Elizabeth of Hungary. Sophie was the heiress of Hesse which she passed on to her son, Heinrich I, Landgrave of Hesse upon her retention of the territory following her partial victory in the War of the Thuringian Succession in which she was one of the belligerents.

From the late 16th century, after the reign of Philip I, Landgrave of Hesse (1509-1567) it was generally divided into several branches, the most important of which were those of Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel) and Hesse-Darmstadt. In the early 19th century the Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel was elevated to Elector of Hesse (1803), while the Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt became the Grand Duke of Hesse (1806), later Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine. The Electorate of Hesse (Hesse-Kassel) was annexed by Prussia in 1866, while Grand Ducal Hesse (Hesse-Darmstadt) remained a sovereign realm until the end of the German monarchies in 1918.

Landgrave Louis X of Hesse-Darmstadt was the son of Louis IX, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt, and succeeded his father in 1790. He presided over a significant increase in territory for Hesse-Darmstadt during the imperial reorganizations of 1801-1803, most notably the Duchy of Westphalia, hitherto subject to the Archbishop of Cologne. Allied to Napoleon, Louis in 1806 was elevated to the title of a Grand Duke of Hesse and joined the Confederation of the Rhine, leading to the dissolution of the Empire. At the Congress of Vienna in 1814/15, Louis had to give up his Westphalian territories, but was compensated with the district of Rheinhessen, with his capital Mainz on the left bank of the Rhine. Because of this addition, he amended his title to Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine.

Louis II (December 26, 1777 – June 16, 1848) was Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine from April 6 1830 until March 5, 1848 (He resigned in the German Revolution of 1848). He was the son of Louis I, Grand Duke of Hesse and Princess Louise of Hesse-Darmstadt. He was married to Wilhelmine of Baden who was his first cousin. Through her, Louis had four surviving children – Grand Duke Louis III of Hesse and By Rhine (June 9, 1806, Darmstadt – June 13, 1877,), Prince Charles, Prince Alexander, and Princess Marie, the wife of Emperor Alexander II of Russia. The last two, however, are speculated to have been fathered by Baron August von Senarclens de Grancy, the longtime lover of Wilhelmine of Baden.

It is Louis II’s second son Prince Charles of Hesse and by Rhine (April 23, 1809 – March 20, 1877) to where we turn our focus. Prince Charles was married to Princess Elisabeth of Prussia (June 18, 1815 – March 21, 1885), the second daughter of Prince Wilhelm of Prussia and Landgravine Marie Anna of Hesse-Homburg and a granddaughter of King Friedrich-Wilhelm II of Prussia. She is the great-great grandmother of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

IMG_3852 Grand Duke Louis IV of Hesse and By Rhine

Prince Charles and Princess Elisabeth’s eldest son was Prince Louis (September 1837 – March 13, 1892) and he was born at the Prinz-Karl-Palais in Darmstadt, the capital of the Grand Duchy of Hesse and by Rhine in the German Confederation. Prince Louis was from birth, second-in-line to the grand ducal throne, after his father. On July 1, 1862, Louis married Princess Alice, the third child of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. On the day of the wedding, the Queen issued a royal warrant granting her new son-in-law the style of Royal Highness in the United Kingdom. The Queen also subsequently made Prince Louis a knight of the Order of the Garter. Louis became Grand Duke Louis IV of Hesse and By Rhine on June 13, 1877. Their eldest daughter, Princess Victoria, born 1863, will feature again in our story.

Prince Alexander of Hesse and By Rhine

The next important Prince in our story is Prince Alexander Ludwig Georg Friedrich Emil of Hesse and By Rhine GCB (July 15, 1823 – December 18, 1888). Prince Alexander was the third son and fourth child of Louis II, Grand Duke of Hesse and Wilhelmina of Baden. He was a brother of Tsarina Maria Alexandrovna. The Battenberg/Mountbatten family descends from Alexander and his wife Countess Julia von Hauke, a former lady-in-waiting to his sister.

Alexander fell in love with Countess Julia Hauke, lady-in-waiting to his sister, future Tasrina Maria Alexandrovna. Countess Hauke, was an orphaned German-Polish ward of the Russian Emperor, and daughter of the Emperor’s former minister of war. At that time, the Emperor Nicholas I was considering Alexander as a possible husband for his niece and, when he heard of Alexander’s romance, he forbade the couple to marry.

Alexander left Russia for England to contemplate his future, but then returned to Russia and eloped with Julia from St. Petersburg, resulting in exile and being stricken by the Emperor’s orders from the roll of the Russian imperial army for insubordination. The two were married in Breslau in 1851. Alexander’s older brother Louis III, Grand Duke of Hesse, allowed him to re-patriate to Hesse with his bride, although he did not recognize their marriage as dynastic. He granted her the new, hereditary title of Countess von Battenberg with the style Illustrious Highness (H.Ill.H.). (Battenberg was a small town and ruined castle in the north of the grand duchy which, according to the memoirs of their eldest child Marie, the family visited once during her youth, although it never became their residence).

In 1858 Grand Duke Louis III elevated Countess von Battenberg’s title to that of Princess of Battenberg with the style Serene Highness (HSH). The children of Alexander and Julia thus bore the title of Prince (German: Prinz) or Princess (German: Prinzessin) and the style Serene Highness (German: Durchlaucht). Battenberg thus became the name of a morganatic cadet branch of the Grand Ducal family of Hesse, without right of succession.

The name Battenberg was last used by her youngest son, Prince Francis Joseph of Battenberg, who died childless in 1924. Most members of the family, residing in the United Kingdom, had renounced their German titles in 1917, due to rising anti-German sentiment among the British public during World War I, and changed their name to Mountbatten, an anglicised version of Battenberg.

The eldest son of Prince Alexander of Hesse and By Rhine and Princess Julia of Battenberg was Prince Louis Alexander of Battenberg (May 24, 1854 – September 11, 1921), born six months after their elopement. Although born in Austria, and brought up in Italy and Germany, he enrolled in the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy at the age of fourteen. Queen Victoria and her son King Edward VII, then Prince of Wales, occasionally intervened in his career.

IMG_3858 Prince Louis of Battenberg (Louis Mountbatten the 1st Marquess of Milford Haven)

Prince Louis of Battenberg married his father’s first cousin, the aforementioned Princess Victoria of Hesse and Rhine, the daughter of Grand Duke Louis IV of Hesse and By Rhine and Princess Alice of the United Kingdom and a granddaughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

In 1912, after a naval career lasting more than forty years, Prince Louis of Battenberg was appointed First Sea Lord, the professional head of the British naval service. With World War I looming, he took steps to ready the British fleet for combat, but his background as a German prince forced his retirement once the war began, when anti-German sentiment was running high. In 1917 when anti-German sentiment had reached its zenith, Prince Louis changed his name to Mountbatten, the Anglicized name for Battenberg and relinquished his German titles, at the behest of King George V. In return for giving up his German titles, and for his many years of service in the British Navy, King George V created Louis Mountbatten the 1st Marquess of Milford Haven.

The Marquess of Milford Haven and Princess Victoria of Hesse and By Rhine (Marchioness of Milford Haven) were the parents of four children.

1. George Mountbatten, 2nd Marquess of Milford Haven.
2. Louise Mountbatten, second wife of King Gustaf VI Adolph of Sweden.
3. Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma.
4. Princess Alice of Battenberg who married Prince Andreas of Greece and Denmark (prior to the relinquishment of her German title) and were the parents of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, consort of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom.

IMG_3853 Admiral of the Fleet Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma

This brings us to the person with the name of Louis who had a great influence on today’s British Royal Family. Admiral of the Fleet, Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, KG, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, DSO, PC, FRS (June 25, 1900 – August 27, 1979) second son of Prince Louis of Battenberg and Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine (Marquess and Marchioness of Milford Haven). Since Lord Mountbatten was born 17 years prior to his family relinquishing their German titles, Lord Louis was born HSH Prince Louis of Battenberg.

Lord Louis was a British Royal Navy officer and statesman, a maternal uncle of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and second cousin once removed of Queen Elizabeth II. Despite his family’s Hessian foreign origins, he was born in the United Kingdom, and was considered a member of the Royal Family both due to his descent from Queen Victoria and his close blood relation to Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh. During the Second World War, he was Supreme Allied Commander, South East Asia Command (1943–1946). He was the last Viceroy of India (1947) and the first Governor-General of independent India (1947–1948).

From 1954 to 1959, Mountbatten was First Sea Lord, a position that had been held by his father, Prince Louis of Battenberg, some forty years earlier. Thereafter he served as Chief of the Defence Staff until 1965, making him the longest serving professional head of the British Armed Forces to date. During this period Mountbatten also served as Chairman of the NATO Military Committee for a year.

In 1979, Lord Mountbatten, his grandson Nicholas, and two others were murdered by a bomb set by members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army, hidden aboard his fishing boat in Mullaghmore, County Sligo, Ireland.

Lord Mountbatten was close to the British Royal Family and had a profound affect on the current Prince of Wales who considered his great-uncle to be his honorary grandfather. His influence is felt in many ways, one of them being his name lives on in members of the Royal Family.

Here is a list of the current members of the Royal Family that have the name Louis among their names.

1. Lord Frederick Windsor (Frederick Michael George David Louis; born April 6, 1979), also nicknamed Freddie Windsor, is a British financial analyst, and the only son of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.

He is a first cousin once removed of Queen Elizabeth II and a first cousin twice removed of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. He is 47th in the line of succession to the British throne. Lord Frederick and his sister, Lady Gabriella, were brought up in the Church of England. I do not believe his name of Louis is after Lord Mountbatten.

2. HRH. Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, KG, GCVO, CD, ADC(P) (Edward Antony Richard Louis; born March 10, 1964) is the youngest of four children and the third son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. At the time of his birth, he was third in line of succession to the British throne; he is now tenth.

IMG_1554 HRH The Duke of Cambridge

3. HRH. Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, KG, KT, PC, ADC(P) (William Arthur Philip Louis; born June 21, 1982) is a member of the British royal family. He is the elder son of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Diana, Princess of Wales, and since birth has been second in the line of succession to the British throne, after his father.

4. HRH. Prince George of Cambridge (George Alexander Louis; born July 22, 2013) is a member of the British royal family. He is the eldest child and elder son of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and third in the line of succession to the British throne. As he is expected to become king, his birth was widely celebrated across the Commonwealth realms.

IMG_1963 HRH Prince Louis of Cambridge

5. Prince Louis of Cambridge (Louis Arthur Charles; born April 23, 2018) is a member of the British royal family. He is the third and youngest child and second son of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. He is fifth in the line of succession to the British throne.

The Name Louis and the British Monarchy: IV


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The next prince on my list in this examination of the name of Louis and its association with the British Royal Family is HRH Frederick-Louis, Prince of Wales, KG (February 1, 1707 – March 31, 1751). He was heir apparent to the British throne from 1727 until his death from a lung injury at the age of 44 in 1751. He was the eldest son King George II and Caroline of Ansbach, and the father of King George III.

IMG_3319 HRH Prince Frederick-Louis, Prince of Wales and Duke of Edinburgh

Under the Act of Settlement passed by the English Parliament in 1701, Frederick-Louis was born fourth in the line of succession to the British throne, after his great-grandmother (Electress Sophia of Hanover), paternal grandfather (King George I) and father (George II). All of these relatives were alive at the time of his birth. Prince Frederick-Louis was born in Hanover, Holy Roman Empire (Germany), as Duke Friedrich-Ludwig of Brunswick-Lüneburg, His paternal great-grandmother, Sophia of Hanover, a granddaughter of James I-VI, King of England, Scotland and Ireland, was cousin and heir presumptive to Queen Anne of Great Britain. When Sophia died before Anne at age 83 in June 1714, this elevated elevated Elector George-Louis to heir-presumptive.

Queen Anne died on August 1, of that same year, and Sophia’s son became King George I. This made Frederick-Louis’s father the new Prince of Wales and first-in-line to the British throne and Frederick-Louis himself became second-in-line.

In 1726 Frederick-Louis’ grandfather, George I, created him Duke of Edinburgh, Marquess of the Isle of Ely, Earl of Eltham in the county of Kent, Viscount of Launceston in the county of Cornwall, and Baron of Snaudon in the county of Carnarvon. The latter two titles have been interpreted differently since – the ofs are omitted and Snaudon rendered as Snowdon.

Frederick-Louis spent much of his early life in Hanover even after his grandfather and father moved to England. Frederick-Louis arrived in England in 1728 as a grown man, the year after his father had become King George II. By then, George II and Caroline had had several younger children, and Frederick-Louis, created Prince of Wales January 8th 1729, was a high-spirited youth fond of drinking, gambling and women. The long separation damaged the parent-child relationship, and they would never be close.

With Frederick-Louis now in England it was time for him to settle down and start to raise a family. Negotiations between George II and his brother-in-law Friedrich-Wilhelm I of Prussia on a proposed marriage between the Prince of Wales and Friedrich-Wilhelm I’s daughter, Wilhelmine, were welcomed by Frederick-Louis even though the couple had never met. George II was not keen on the proposal but continued talks for diplomatic reasons. Frustrated by the delay, Frederick-Louis sent an envoy of his own to the Prussian court. When King George II discovered the plan, he immediately arranged for Frederick-Louis to leave Hanover for England. The marriage negotiations ultimately collapsed when Friedrich-Wilhelm I demanded that Frederick-Louis be made Regent in Hanover which meant he’d have the power and authority as Elector of Hanover, just not the tittle. George II would have none of that!

Frederick-Louis also almost married Lady Diana Spencer, daughter of Charles Spencer, 3rd Earl of Sunderland and Lady Anne Churchill. Lady Diana was the favourite grandchild of the powerful Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough. The duchess sought a royal alliance by marrying Lady Diana to the Prince of Wales with a massive dowry of £100,000. The prince, who was in great debt, agreed to the proposal, but the plan was vetoed by Robert Walpole, Prime Minister of the day, and by King George II himself. Lady Diana instead married John Russell, 4th Duke of Bedford.

IMG_3498 Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg HRH The Princess of Wales

After a marriage with Lady Diana Spencer did not come to fruition, king George II was visiting Hanover when Queen Caroline suggested that Frederick-Louis visit Saxe-Gotha to view the princesses there. The princess that caught his eye was Princess Augusta. Princess Augusta was born in Gotha to Friedrich II, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (1676–1732) and Magdalena Augusta of Anhalt-Zerbst (1676–1740). Her paternal grandfather was Friedrich I, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, eldest surviving son of Ernst I, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg.

When Frederick-Louis informed his mother that he considered Augusta suitable, the marriage was swiftly decided upon. Frederick-Louis simply stated that he accepted any bride his father would decide for him. His motive in seeking an early marriage was not because he’d fallen in love with Princess Augusta, his motive was to obtain an additional allowance from Parliament in order to be financially independent of his father, whom he detested.

IMG_3505 The Prince and Princess of Wales and family

Princess Augusta did not speak French or English, and the British Court suggested that she be given language lessons before the wedding. Since British royal family was originally from Germany and since Frederick-Louis also spoke German, Princess Augusta‘s mother did not consider it necessary for her daughter to learn English. Therefore she arrived in Britain speaking virtually no English, for a wedding ceremony which took place almost immediately, on 8 May 1736, at the Chapel Royal in St James’s Palace, London.

The union was presided over by Edmund Gibson, Bishop of London and Dean of the Chapel Royal. Handel provided the new anthem ‘Sing unto God’ for the service and the wedding was also marked in London by two rival operas, Handel’s Atalanta and Porpora’s La festa d’Imeneo.

The royal couple had 9 children (5 sons and 4 daughters) with Prince George being the eldest, born 1738. Frederick-Louis died at Leicester House at the age of 44 in 1751. In the past this has been attributed to a burst lung abscess caused by a blow from a cricket or a real tennis ball, but it is now thought to have been from a pulmonary embolism. He was buried at Westminster Abbey on April 13, 1751.

Prince George inherited his father’s title of Duke of Edinburgh. George II showed more interested in his grandson and three weeks after the death of the Prince of Wales the King created George Prince of Wales, a title that is not automatically inherited.

Britain would not have a King Frederick-Louis and this was the closest they would come to a King with the name Louis.

Mecklenburg-Strelitz raised to a Grand Duchy by the Congress of Vienna June 28, 1815.


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On this date in History: June 28, 1815. Today in 1815 the Duchy of Mecklenburg-Strelitz is raised to a Grand Duchy by the Congress of Vienna. Duke Carl II, pictured, therefore becomes the first Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

IMG_3510 Carl II, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz

Carl II (October 10, 1741 – November 6, 1816) was ruler of the state of Mecklenburg-Strelitz from 1794 until his death. Originally ruling as duke, he was raised to the rank of grand duke in 1815.

Duke Carl Ludwig Friedrich of Mecklenburg was born in Mirow the second son of Duke Carl Ludwig Friedrich of Mecklenburg, and his wife Princess Elisabeth Albertine of Saxe-Hildburghausen. On December 11, 1752 his uncle Adolph-Friedrich III died and as a result Carl’s older brother succeeded him becoming Adolph-Friedrich IV. With his brother’s ascension Carl was taken with the rest of the family from Mirow to the capital Strelitz.

Following the childless death of his older brother Adolph-Friedrich IV on June 2, 1794, Carl succeeded him as the ruling Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

IMG_2495 Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Queen Consort of Great Britain.

Carl’s sister, Charlotte, married King George III of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, the Elector of Hanover, on September 8, 1761. Carl II made frequent visits to his sister in Great Britain and he ultimately entered the service of his brother-in-law the Elector of Hanover with a chief military appointment at Hanover following service in Spain. Prior to succeeding to the throne of Mecklenburg-Strelitz he served as Governor of Hanover from 1776 to 1786.

Marriages and children

After unsuccessful attempts to marry a Princess of Denmark and a Princess of Saxe-Gotha, Carl II married as his first wife Princess Friederike of Hesse-Darmstadt, a daughter of Prince Georg-Wilhelm of Hesse-Darmstadt on September 18, 1768 in Darmstadt. They had ten children together. Two of the daughters became German queens consort.

Duchess Charlotte Georgine of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1769–1818) married Friedrich, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg
Duchess Caroline Auguste of Mecklenburg (1771–1773)
Duke Georg-Carl of Mecklenburg (1772–1773)
Duchess Therese of Mecklenburg (1773–1839) married Karl Alexander, 5th Prince of Thurn and Taxis
Duke Friedrich-Georg of Mecklenburg (1774–1774)
Duchess Louise of Mecklenburg (1776–1810) married Friedrich-Wilhelm III of Prussia
Duchess Frederica of Mecklenburg (1778–1841) married (1) Prince Ludwig-Carl of Prussia (2) Friedrich-Wilhelm, Prince of Solms-Braunfels (3) Ernst-August I of Hanover
Georg, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1779–1860)
Duke Friedrich-Karl of Mecklenburg (1781–1783)
Duchess Auguste Albertine of Mecklenburg (1782–1782)

After Friederike’s death in 1782, Carl II married her sister Princess Charlotte of Hesse-Darmstadt on September 28 1784 in Darmstadt. Charlotte died on December 12, 1785 shortly after giving birth to their son Duke Carl of Mecklenburg (1785–1837).

In the summer of 1816 Carl II went on a tour of Rebberg, Schwalbach and Hildburghausen. Shortly after returning he was taken ill with inflammation of the lungs. He died in Neustrelitz after suffering a fit of apoplexy. He was succeeded by his eldest son Georg.