No one is perfect, everyone makes mistakes. We all do. I try to strive for accuracy in my daily routine -- I am a university librarian -- and in my own writing and reporting.
I have been writing about British and European royalty since the late 1970s, and I have built up a large library of books, clip files, photographs and postcards. But not everyone who blogs about royalty is an acknowledged expert on the topic.
Such is the case of a blog -- not going to name it -- that has a lot of followers and is quoted in the press because of the blogger's expertise in fashion - and what the Duchess of Cambridge wears. The blogger (there may be more than one) has a unique fashion sense, which is a good thing when writing about Catherine's clothes. What this blog achieves is terrific. I know I could never do what they do. In full transparency, let me say that I know very little about fashion, although I love Ralph Lauren, and wear his clothes nearly every day! Fashion is not my forte, but British and European royalty are in the realm of my expertise.
But the blogger is not as adept in writing about accurately about royal history and royal titles. A post yesterday about Catherine's titles exacerbated the situation. I wrote a response, pointing out the mistakes in a very polite response, which was not posted. Suffice to say, all the information I provided was verifiable, by using different sources (not Wikipedia).
The former Catherine Middleton is NOT Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge. Her name is not a part of her title. She is HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Strathearn and Lady Carrickfergus. These titles were not given to her, but to her husband, Prince William, on his wedding day. The Letters Patent did not refer to the then Miss Middleton, but only to William. Catherine bears these titles by virtue of her marriage to Prince William.
Widows and divorced wives of peers are styled as first name, title. Diana, Princess of Wales and Sarah, Duchess of York, followed this styling.
The present Dukedom of Cambridge is not the same that was first used in 1664, when the infant son, James, of the Duke and Duchess of York (The future James II and his first wife, Anne Hyde) was created as Duke of Cambridge. Young James died shortly before his fourth birthday, and the title reverted to the Crown, for recreation. He was the first created Duke of Cambridge, but the Duke of York's first son, Charles (1660-1661) was the first to be styled as Duke of Cambridge.
The writer is correct is saying that the Cambridge dukedom was first used in 1664, but then adds "over the next three centuries, "Cambridge" would become an earldom and marquessate as well." She also claims that the Cambridge title "has been held by many future monarchs and high profile royals, including George II and Edward IV.
Strange to list George II before Edward IV, who died in 1483, and was the last of the Plantagenet Earls of Cambridge. The title reverted to the Crown in 1461 when he became king.
The fourth creation of the Cambridge earldom was made in 1619 by Charles I for James Hamilton, 2nd Marquess of Hamilton. The title remained with the Hamilton family until 1651 when the 2nd Duke of Hamilton died. With the death of the 2nd Duke of Hamilton, the Cambridge earldom became extinct. Eight years later, Charles II created his younger brother, Prince Henry, as Duke of Gloucester and Earl of Cambridge.
Edward IV was Duke of York, Earl of March, Earl of Cambridge and Earl of Ulster, before he succeeded to the English throne. The York dukedom was his primary peerage. He was the only English King to have had the earldom of Cambridge among his peerages.
George II was the only monarch (so far) who held the title Duke of Cambridge.
Thus, two monarchs, not "many", have had a Cambridge peerage. The five creations of the Cambridge earldom preceded the first creation of a Cambridge dukedom. The earldoms did not follow the first dukedom.
Three of the future James II's sons were created Duke of Cambridge. None survived infancy. It was not until 1706, when Queen Anne created her kinsman, Prince George of Hanover, as Duke and Marquess of Cambridge, Earl of Milford Haven, Viscount Northallerton and Baron of Tewkesbury. At the time of this creation, George was third in line to the British throne after his grandmother, the Electress Sophia of Hanover and his father, Hereditary Prince Georg Ludwig.
Sophia died in 1714 several months before Queen Anne. Thus, it was her son, Georg Ludwig, who succeeded to the British throne, as George I. The Duke of Cambridge, as heir apparent, became the Duke of Cornwall and Duke of Rothesay. He did not cease to be the Duke of Cambridge, but as the heir to the throne, he was styled by the appropriate titles. George I soon named his son as Prince of Wales.
When George II succeeded in 1727, the peerages given to him by Queen Anne reverted to the Crown. His eldest son, Frederick, became the Duke of Cornwall and Duke of Rothesay, and was created Prince of Wales.
The Cambridge dukedom was created for the fourth time in 1801 by George III for his seventh son (and tenth child), Prince Adolphus (1774-1850.) He was succeeded by his only son, Prince George (1819-1904). As the 2nd Duke's marriage was in contravention of the Royal Marriages Act, his sons were not dynasts, and the peerages reverted to the Crown.
It was not until 1917 when the Marquessate of Cambridge was created for 2nd Duke of Teck (Prince Adolphus), who was the brother of Queen Mary, and great-grandson of Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge, through his youngest child, Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge.
The 1st Marquess of Cambridge died in 1927, and was succeeded by his elder son, George. The title became extinct, and reverted to the Crown, in 1981, when George died without male heirs. His younger brother, Lord Frederick Cambridge, was killed in action in 1940.
The writer also notes that because Kate will "one day be the queen consort of Scotland, it is custom for heirs and their spouses to take a "Scottish title."
Queen Consort of Scotland? Not since 1707, and the Act of Union, which brought together England and Scotland as one country with one sovereign: today the country is known as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
No one "takes" Scottish titles. The British sovereign is the fountain of all honours, and the sovereign creates the titles for the members of the royal family. But the "Scottish" title is not reserved for the heir.
In Scotland, the heir has the title Duke of Rothesay. Prince William is second in line to the throne. He is not the heir. His father, the Prince of Wales, is the heir to the throne. William does not have a constitutional role. That will come when his father is King.
Queen Victoria's third son, Prince Arthur was Duke of Connaught and Strathearn. He was succeeded by his grandson, Alistair, who bore the courtesy title, Earl of Macduff, as he was also heir to his mother's dukedom, Fife. The 2nd Duke of Connaught and Strathearn died unmarried in Canada in 1943, at the age of 28.
Connaught and Strathearn reverted to the Crown. As Connaught is located in the Republic of Ireland, it won't be created again.
It was George V who largely established the English dukedom, Scottish earldom and Irish (after 1947, Northern Irish) peerages for male members of the Royal Family, although he did switch the order for one of his sons.
In 1920, George V created his second son, Prince Albert, as Duke of York, Earl of Inverness and Baron Killarney. These titles reverted to the Crown when Bertie succeeded to the throne following his brother, Edward VIII's abdication. Eight years, King George created his third son, Henry, as Duke of Gloucester, Earl of Ulster and Baron Culloden. Ulster is in what is now Northern Ireland, and Culloden is in Scotland.
It was not until October 1934, six weeks before his marriage to Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark, Prince George, the youngest surviving son of George V, was created Duke of Kent, Earl of St. Andrews and Baron Downpatrick.
In 1986, Queen Elizabeth II created her second son, Prince Andrew, as Duke of York, Earl of Inverness and Baron Killyleagh, rather than Killarney, which is located in the Republic of Ireland.
The blogger states that when Charles becomes king, William and Catherine will be "given the title Prince and Princess of Wales, the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall." She adds that the Cambridge title will return to the "title bank" for later use. There is no such thing as a title bank. Peerages revert to the Crown for possible recreation.
When Charles succeeds to the throne, William, as the eldest son, will become Duke of Cornwall and Duke of Rothesay, just as HRH Prince Charles of Edinburgh became Duke of Cornwall and Duke of Rothesay (in Scotland) when his mother became Queen.
At some point, Charles will invest William with the titles, Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester. Catherine will have a good seat at the investiture, but she will not be a part of the ceremony. As the wife of the Prince of Wales, she will bear the title by courtesy, not by an investiture.
So what happens to the Dukedom of Cambridge? Absolutely nothing until William becomes king, when his peerages revert to the Crown, apart from Cornwall and Rothesay. He will remain as Duke of Cambridge until the death of his father.
"In accordance with the direction of Her Majesty The Queen Letters Patent have passed the Great Seal of the Realm, dated 26 May 2011 granting unto Her Majesty’s Grandson, His Royal Highness Prince William Arthur Philip Louis of Wales, K.G., and the heirs male of his body lawfully begotten the dignities of Baron Carrickfergus, Earl of Strathearn, and Duke of Cambridge."
This means Prince George and any younger brothers are heirs to the dukedom, but when William becomes king, the Cambridge dukedom will revert to the Crown, and not be inherited by George.
From January 22, 1901 until November 9, 1901, when he was created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester, the future George V was styled as Duke of Cornwall and York. George, the only surviving son of Edward VII, was created Duke of York by his grandmother, Queen Victoria, on her birthday, May 24, 1892.
Thus, there is a precedent, that William might be styled as Duke of Cornwall and Cambridge until King Charles III makes the announcement that he will create his son as Prince of Wales. We won't know this until Charles is on the throne.
Catherine's title will not be Catherine, Princess of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall. She will be HRH The Princess of Wales. She will also be the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duchess of Rothesay (in Scotland, depending on how the referendum goes later this year), Duchess of Cambridge, etc. But she will be styled as HRH The Princess of Wales because it is the higher, more important title. Her name will not be included. Names are not used in the style of titles, unless one is a widow or divorced.
The press may call her Princess Catherine, but this is never correct as she is not a Princess of the Blood Royal. She is a Princess by marriage. Only Princesses of the Blood Royal are styled by their own names. If William had not been created Duke of Cambridge, he would have remained as HRH Prince William of Wales. Catherine would have been styled as HRH Princess William of Wales. The precedents: HRH Princess Arthur of Connaught, HRH Princess Richard of Gloucester (now HRH The Duchess of Gloucester) and HRH Princess Michael of Kent.
There are one or two anomalies that could happen regarding titles. If Charles dies before his mother, William will become the heir apparent to the throne. But he will not become the Duke of Cornwall, nor have access to the Duchy's revenues. Why? Only the eldest son of the Sovereign can be the Duke of Cornwall.
The Duchy and its revenues revert to the Crown when there is no Duke of Cornwall. This was the case from when George VI succeeded until his death, when Elizabeth became queen, and her son became the Duke of Cornwall. Elizabeth was heiress presumptive.
If William would die before his father and grandmother, little George would succeed as Duke of Cambridge. The Letters Patent bestowed the title on William and his male heirs. George would remain Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Strathearn and Baron Carrickfergus, until he became king, when the titles revert to the Crown. He would have been styled as Prince of Wales, if the sovereign invested him with the title, but he, too, would not inherit the Cornwall dukedom.
Catherine's rank and style are through marriage. The HRH and the rank of Princess of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland are not hers by right but by marriage. Should this marriage end in divorce before Charles is king (doubtful), Catherine would lose the HRH (Queen Elizabeth II issued a Letters Patent after the divorces of the Prince and Princess of Wales and the Duke and Duchess of York regarding the status of former wives. They would lose the HRH as it was not theirs by right.)
Catherine would be styled as Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. She would also have the option of reverting to her maiden name. If Diana had remarried a man without any title, she would have become The Lady Diana surname.
(This second post was cited by New York Magazine!)
So what would I do in this situation. I would invest in several good reference books, including Debrett's Correct Form, Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, and The Royal Encyclopedia by Ronald Allison and Sarah Riddell, and place them next to the Vogue subscription and latest LK Bennett catalog!