Duke of Clarence

Duke of Clarence is a substantive title which has been traditionally awarded to junior members of the British royal family. All three creations were in the Peerage of England.

Dukedom of Clarence

Arms of George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence (third creation): Quarterly, 1st and 4th, France modern, 2nd and 3rd England, with a label of three points Argent each point charged with a canton Gules
Creation date1362 (first creation)
1412 (second creation)
1461 (third creation)
MonarchEdward III (first creation)
Henry IV (second creation)
Edward IV (third creation)
PeeragePeerage of England
First holderLionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence
Last holderPrince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale
Subsidiary titlesFirst creation:
Earl of Ulster
Second creation:
Earl of Aumale
Third creation:
Earl of Warwick
Earl of Salisbury
Extinction date1368 (first creation)
1421 (second creation)
1892 (third creation)

The title was first granted to Lionel of Antwerp, the second son of King Edward III, in 1362. Since he died without sons, the title became extinct. The title was again created in favour of Thomas of Lancaster, the second son of King Henry IV, in 1412. Upon his death, too, the title became extinct. The last creation in the Peerage of England was for George Plantagenet, brother of King Edward IV, in 1461. The Duke forfeited his title in 1478, after he had been convicted of treason against his brother. He allegedly met his end by being drowned in a butt of Malmsey (according to William Shakespeare).

A fourth creation in England was suggested and planned to take effect; the title of Duke of Clarence was going to be given to Lord Guilford Dudley, husband of Lady Jane Grey, upon her coronation, as she declined to make her husband king. However, she was deposed before this could take effect.

Two double dukedoms, of Clarence and St Andrews and of Clarence and Avondale, were later created for British royal princes. The title also took the form of an earldom for Queen Victoria's son Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, and his son Prince Charles Edward, the Clarence earldom being a subsidiary title.


The title does not refer to the minor River Clarence in Pas-de-Calais, Northern France, but is said by Polydore Vergil to originate[1] from the manor and castle of Clare in Suffolk, the caput of a feudal barony, which was held by Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence, in right of his wife, the heiress Elizabeth de Burgh, 4th Countess of Ulster, ultimate descendant and heiress of the previous holder, the de Clare family; Clare was among the many estates which she brought to her husband.[2] After the Union of the Crowns in 1603, the holders of the title were also given titles named after Scottish places: St Andrews and Avondale.

Dukes of Clarence, first Creation (1362)

The title was first created for Lionel, a younger son of King Edward III who in 1352 had married Elizabeth de Burgh, 4th Countess of Ulster, the sole heiress via a female line of Gilbert de Clare, 8th Earl of Gloucester. The name Clarence referred to the feudal barony of Clare in Suffolk, and as the holder of it (and others) by right of his wife Lionel was given that title.

Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence
also: Earl of Ulster (1264 jure uxoris)
29 November 1338
Antwerp, Duchy of Brabant (now Belgium)
son of Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault
Elizabeth de Burgh, 4th Countess of Ulster
1 child
7 October 1368
Alba, Piedmont
aged 29
Died without male issue

Dukes of Clarence, second Creation (1412)

Thomas of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Clarence
also: Earl of Aumale (1412)
Autumn 1387
son of Henry IV of England and Mary de Bohun
Margaret Holland
22 March 1421
Battle of Baugé, Anjou, France
aged 33
Died without legitimate male issue

Dukes of Clarence, third Creation (1461)

George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence
also: Earl of Warwick and Earl of Salisbury (1472)
21 October 1449
Dublin Castle, Ireland
son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York and Cecily Neville, Duchess of York
Isabel Neville
July 1469
4 children
18 February 1478
Tower of London, London
aged 28
Executed for treason in 1478 and honours forfeited

Similar titles

Duke of Clarence and St Andrews (1789)

  • William IV (1765–1837), who became king in 1830, at which point the title merged with the Crown.

Earls of Clarence (1881)

Duke of Clarence and Avondale (1890)

Family Tree

Family Tree: Dukes of Clarence

King Edward III
Lionel of Antwerp,
Duke of Clarence

John of Gaunt,
1st Duke of Lancaster

Philippa, 5th Countess of Ulster
m. 3rd Earl of March
King Henry IV
Roger Mortimer,
4th Earl of March

King Henry V
Thomas of Lancaster,
Duke of Clarence

Anne de Mortimer
m. 3rd Earl of Cambridge
King Henry VI
r.1422–61, 1470–71)
Richard of York,
3rd Duke of York

King Edward IV
r.1461–70, 1471–83)
Duke of Clarence

King Richard III
Elizabeth of York
m. King Henry VII
King Henry VIII
Princess Margaret Tudor
m. James IV of Scotland
Edward VI (1537–r.1547–1553)
Mary I (1516–r.1553–1558)
Elizabeth I (1533–r.1558–1603)
James V of Scotland
Mary, Queen of Scots
King James VI & I
Princess Elizabeth Stuart
m. Frederick V of the Palatinate
King Charles I
Sophia of Hanover
m. Ernest Augustus of Brunswick
King Charles II
King James II
(1633–1701, r.1685–1688)
King George I
Queen Mary II
Queen Anne
King George II
Prince Frederick Louis,
Prince of Wales

King George III
, 1789
King George IV
Prince William Henry,
Duke of Clarence and St Andrews

King William IV
Prince Edward,
Duke of Kent

Queen Victoria
King Edward VII
Prince Leopold, 1st Duke of Albany,
1st Earl of Clarence

, 1890
Prince Albert Victor,
Duke of Clarence and Avondale

King George V
Charles Edward, 2nd Duke of Albany,
2nd Earl of Clarence

Honours forfeit, 1919
King Edward VIII
(1894–1972, r.1936)
King George VI
Queen Elizabeth II

Possible future creations

The Dukedom is currently vacant. While there were some speculations that it was one of the options available for Prince Harry upon his wedding with Meghan Markle, press reports also noted the Dukedom's chequered past, including scandals and unfounded rumors of criminality related to Prince Albert Victor.[3][4] Prince Harry was ultimately awarded the Dukedom of Sussex.


  1. Polydore Vergil, in his Anglica Historia of 1534 (Book XIX.36) dates the Dukedom to 1361 and claims to have rediscovered the lost origins of the name. See also David Hatton, Clare, Suffolk, an account of historical features of the town, its Priory and its Parish Church, 2006, Book 1, p21 ISBN 0-9524242-3-1 It is also available online on the Clare website. See also the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography s.v. 'Lionel [Lionel of Antwerp], duke of Clarence': "Lionel's elevation to the title of duke of Clarence (meaning the town, castle, and honour of Clare)".
  2.  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Clarence, Dukes of". Encyclopædia Britannica. 6 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 427–428.
  3. Scotti, Monique (19 May 2018). "A look at Harry and Meghan's new titles: Duke and Duchess of Sussex". Global News. Retrieved 19 May 2018. Clarence is tainted by more than a bit of bad luck, for instance, with one Duke of Clarence executed by his brother as a traitor (Shakespeare even wrote about that particular incident). Another Duke of Clarence, the grandson of Queen Victoria, got himself mixed up in a scandal involving a gay-prostitution ring. He later died of influenza at just 28.
  4. Davies, Caroline (19 May 2018). "Harry and Meghan to be Duke and Duchess of Sussex". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 May 2018. Clarence has had a chequered history as previous holders have died young, been drowned in a barrel of Malmsey wine or erroneously rumoured to be Jack the Ripper.
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