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HistoryThe Kents

History of Royal Titles: the Dukedom of Kent

The present Duke of Kent has held the title since 1942, but it is a title that has only been awarded twice in the thousand years of the monarchy.

A title belonging to Kent dates back to ancient times when Kent was its own kingdom before the seven Anglo-Saxon kingdoms merged into the kingdom of England. By 860, Kent had merged into a sub-domain ruled by Wessex, and thereafter, a title did not exist for Kent until 1020.

In 1020, the earldom of Kent was bestowed for the first time on Godwin, who fathered a king of England, Harold Godwinson. In total, the title of Earl of Kent was bestowed eight times between 1020 and 1866.

There was a Duke of Kent in this time, when Henry Grey, the 12th Earl of Kent was elevated to Marquess of Kent in 1706 and then elevated again in 1710 to Duke of Kent. Henry had two sons who predeceased him, and upon his death in 1740, the dukedom of Kent reverted to the Crown.

The last Earl of Kent was the son of Queen Victoria: Prince Alfred. When he turned 22, Prince Alfred was bestowed several titles in his mother’s birthday honours, including the Dukedom of Edinburgh, the Earldom of Ulster and the Earldom of Kent.

Prince Alfred succeeded his uncle as the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in 1893, dropping the titles he’d been previously given and reigned his duchy for the rest of his life. To take up his new role, he had to cede his British annuity, give up his seat in the House of Lords and the Privy Council, but he gradually became a popular figure in Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Prince Alfred died in 1900.

The first royal Duke of Kent was styled as such in 1799. The fourth son of George III and Queen Charlotte, Prince Edward, was given the title along with another dukedom, Strathearn, and an earldom, Dublin.

Prince Edward held this title until his death in 1820, and as he had no male heirs, only a daughter, Princess Alexandrine Victoria (later Queen Victoria), the title reverted back to the Crown.

The second time the dukedom of Kent was created was in 1934 for the fourth son of George V and Queen Mary, Prince George. He was styled as The Duke of Kent from 12 October of that year ahead of his wedding to Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark, and he also received the titles Earl of St Andrews and Baron Downpatrick.

Prince George held the dukedom of Kent until his death in 1942 when he was killed in a plane crash flying a mission during the Second World War. His oldest son, Prince Edward, inherited the dukedom at the age of six.

The current Duke of Kent has dedicated his life to royal duties, serving The Queen at home and abroad, serving in the military and holding patronages in such areas as tennis, sport, engineering, and British-German relations.

The Duke of Kent’s eldest son, George, is expected to inherit the dukedom upon his father’s death, and at that time, it will cease to be a royal dukedom as George is too far removed from the Crown to have received a royal style at birth. When he becomes The Duke of Kent, he will be styled His Grace The Duke of Kent.

About author

Jess Ilse is the Assistant Editor at Royal Central. She specialises in the British, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish Royal Families and has been following royalty since Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee. Jess has provided commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Jess works in communications and her debut novel THE MAJESTIC SISTERS will publish in Fall 2024.