Duke of Kent

The title of Duke of Kent has been created several times in the peerages of Great Britain and the United Kingdom, most recently as a royal dukedom for the fourth son of King George V. Since 1942, the title has been held by Prince Edward (born 1935), Queen Elizabeth II's cousin.

Dukedom of Kent
Creation date12 October 1934
MonarchKing George V
PeeragePeerage of the United Kingdom
First holderPrince George
Present holderPrince Edward
Heir apparentGeorge Windsor, Earl of St Andrews
Remainder tothe 1st Duke's heirs male of the body lawfully begotten
Subsidiary titlesEarl of St Andrews
Baron Downpatrick

Earliest history

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

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. 10351066), 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. 10361097), 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, 12th Earl of Kent, who was made Marquess of Kent in 1706 and Duke of Kent in 1710, died without male heirs in 1740.

Marquess, then Duke of Kent

Henry Grey (16711740) 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

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

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 (18441900), 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 inherited his father's 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

In 1934, Prince George (19021942), 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). Lord 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

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.

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

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.


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

First creation, 1710

Henry Grey
also: Marquess Grey (1740), Marquess of Kent (1706), Earl of Kent (1465), Earl of Harold and Viscount Goderich (1706) and Baron Lucas of Crudwell (1663)
1671 (1) Hon. Jemima Crew
10 children
(2) Lady Sophia Bentinck
24 March 1729
2 children[7]

Second creation, 1934

Prince George
House of Windsor
also: Earl of St Andrews and Baron Downpatrick (1934)
20 December 1902
York Cottage, Sandringham
son of King George V and Queen Mary
Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark
29 November 1934
3 children
25 August 1942
aged 39
Prince Edward
House of Windsor
also: Earl of St Andrews and Baron Downpatrick (1934)
9 October 1935
Belgrave Square, London
son of Prince George and Princess Marina
Katharine Worsley
8 June 1961
3 children
now 84 years, 66 days old

Line of succession

Family tree

Family tree: Dukes of Kent
King George III
King George IV
King William IV
Prince Edward Augustus,
Duke of Kent and Strathearn

Queen Victoria
King Edward VII
Prince Alfred Ernest Albert,
Earl of Kent,
Duke of Edinburgh,
Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

King George V
King Edward VIII
(1894–1972, r.1936)
King George VI
Prince George,
1st Duke of Kent

Queen Elizabeth II
Prince Edward,
2nd Duke of Kent

7) Prince Michael of Kent
b. 1942
1) George Windsor,
Earl of St Andrews

b. 1962
3) Lord Nicholas Windsor
b. 1970
8) Lord Frederick Windsor
b. 1979
2) Edward Windsor,
Lord Downpatrick

b. 1988
4) Albert Windsor Esq
b. 2007
5) Leopold Windsor Esq
b. 2009
6) Louis Windsor Esq
b. 2014

Knights of the Garter

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

Earls of Kent

Dukes of Kent

Dukes of Kent and Strathearn

See also

Notes and references

  1. Kessler, P L. "Kingdoms of the Anglo-Saxons - Kent". www.historyfiles.co.uk.
  2. "Godwins". 27 October 2009. Archived from the original on 27 October 2009.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  3. "Royal Support for the Scouting and Guiding Movements". Official Website of the British Monarchy. Archived from the original on 24 January 2009. Retrieved 2008-07-25.
  4. RIGB Website Archived 15 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  5. "HRH THE DUKE OF KENT". Burke's Peerage & Gentry. Archived from the original on 5 October 2006. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  6. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 8 February 2005. Retrieved 2005-05-23.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. Debrett, John (1820). Debrett's Peerage of England, Scotland, and Ireland. p. 383. Retrieved 23 May 2018.

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