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Dukes of Rothesay

David Stewart, son of Robert III of Scotland, King of Scots, was first to be granted the Dukedom of Rothesay from its creation in 1398. After his death, his brother James, later King James I of Scotland received the dukedom. Thereafter, the heir-apparent to the Scottish Crown held the dukedom; an Act of the Scottish Parliament passed in 1469 confirmed this pattern of succession.

HRH The Duke of Cornwall and Rothesay

The Earldom of Carrick as we previously noted was created as early as the twelfth century. In 1306, Robert de Bruce, Earl of Carrick, became King Robert I of Scotland, with the earldom merging in the Crown. In the following years, successive Kings of Scots created several heirs-apparent Earl of Carrick. The Act of 1469 also finally settled the earldom on the eldest son of the Scottish monarch. The other titles we have discussed thus far, Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland, were also officially attached to the heir of the Scottish Crown with the Act of 1469.

Between the 1603 Union and Edward VII’s time as heir apparent, the style “Duke of Rothesay” appears to have dropped out of usage in favour of “Prince of Wales”. It was Queen Victoria who mandated the title for use to refer to the eldest son and heir apparent when in Scotland, and this usage has continued since. This may have been as a result, direct or indirect, of the 1822 visit of King George IV to Scotland.


Duke of Rothesay and its adjoined titles became linked with the heir to the English throne and his titles Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall, between 1603-1707. During this time the Kingdoms of England and Scotland were not politically united and the titles the heir held were for each kingdom separately.

The titles were unified to the heir of the throne when England and Scotland were united in 1707 as the Kingdom of Great Britain from 1707 to 1801, and now of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is the title mandated for use by the heir apparent when in Scotland, in preference to the titles Duke of Cornwall (which also belongs to the eldest living son of the monarch, when and only when he is also heir apparent, by right) and Prince of Wales (traditionally granted to the heir apparent), which are used in the rest of the United Kingdom and overseas. The Duke of Rothesay also holds other Scottish titles, including those of Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland. The title is named after Rothesay on the Isle of Bute, Argyll and Bute, but is not associated with any legal entity or landed property, unlike the Duchy of Cornwall

The Duchy of Cornwall

The Duke of Cornwall holds both the dukedom (title) and duchy (estate holdings), the latter being the source of his personal income; those living on the ducal estates are subjects of the British sovereign and owe neither fealty nor services to the duke per se.[citation needed] In Scotland the male heir apparent to the British crown is always the Duke of Rothesay as well, but this is a dukedom (title) without a duchy. Similarly, the British monarch rules and owns the Duchy of Lancaster as Duke of Lancaster, but it is held separately from the Crown, with the income of the duchy estates providing the Sovereign’s Privy Purse.



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 III had lost the title of Duke of Normandy After Edward the Black Prince predeceased the King, the duchy was recreated for his son, the future Richard II. In 1421 a Charter designated that the duchy passes to the sovereign’s eldest son.


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 with the Crown even if he left surviving descendants. George III of the United Kingdom was an example of this rule. The monarch’s grandson, even if he is the heir apparent, does not succeed to the dukedom. When his father, Frederick-Louis, Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall died in 1751 his son, George, did not inherit either the title Prince of Wales or Duke of Cornwall. Similarly, no female may ever be Duke of Cornwall, even if she is heir presumptive or heir apparent (that being a distinct and even likely possibility in the future after the passage of the Succession to the Crown Act 2013) to the throne. However, if a Duke of Cornwall should die without descendants and has no sister older than his next brother, 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, and is not restricted to the eldest son. George IIII was again and example of this rule. Though both titles, Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall merged with the Crown on the death of his father, King George II created the future George III, Prince of Wales, but not Duke of Cornwall, because he was the King’s grandson rather than 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.

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.

Rights of the duke

The Duchy includes over 570 square kilometres of land, more than half of which lies in Devon. The Duke 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. In 2013, the Duchy had a revenue surplus of £19 million, a sum that was exempt from income tax, though the Prince of Wales chose to pay the tax voluntarily.

Until 2011, if there was no Duke of Cornwall at any time, then the income of the Duchy went to the Crown. 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 (and the Sovereign Grant is reduced by the same amount).