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HistoryThe Sussexes

History of Royal Titles: the Dukedom of Sussex

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The Duke of Sussex is a substantive title and is one of the several royal dukedoms created twice in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. The dukedom takes its name from the county of Sussex in southeast England.

The title first appeared with the Kingdom of Sussex, an Anglo-Saxon kingdom annexed by the Kingdom of Wessex around 827; later on, the kingdom became part of the Kingdom of England. In charters, Sussex’s monarchs were sometimes referred to as ealdormen, a man of high status, or duces in Latin, which can be translated as “dukes.”

The title was first conferred on 24 November 1801 upon Prince Augustus Frederick, the sixth son of King George III. At the time, the Duke was also made Baron Arklow and Earl of Inverness. The title became extinct after Prince Augustus Frederick’s death in 1843.

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The Prince was survived by a son and daughter by Lady Augusta Murray. Their marriage had been annulled due to a lack of royal permission under the Royal Marriages Act 1772. Because of this, the children were illegitimate under English law and unable to inherit their father’s titles. Both children died childlessly.

On 2 May 1831, Prince Augustus Frederick married for a second time and again, against the Royal Marriages Act 1772, to Lady Cecilia Gore. Because she was not the Prince’s legitimate wife, she could not be received at court. On 30 March 1840, she was given the title of Duchess of Inverness in her own right by Queen Victoria.

Prior to his 1999 wedding, it was rumoured that Prince Edward, Queen Elizabeth II’s youngest son would be created the dukedoms of Sussex or Cambridge. He was created Earl of Wessex, and it was announced he would eventually be created the Duke of Edinburgh, a title currently held by his father, Prince Philip. There was also speculation of the title being given to Prince William upon his marriage to Catherine Middleton in 2011. Instead, he was created the Duke of Cambridge, and his wife took the female form of his title.

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The second creation of the title came in 2018 when Prince Harry married Meghan Markle. On the day of their wedding, 19 May, it was announced The Queen bestowed the title, including the subsidiary titles of Earl of Dumbarton in Scotland and Baron Kilkeel in Northern Ireland, on Harry. Meghan took on the female form of her husband’s title and became the first Duchess of Sussex. The couple’s first child, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, is the heir apparent to the dukedom.

About author

My name is Sydney Zatz and I am a University of Iowa graduate. I graduated with a degree in journalism and sports studies, and a minor in sport and recreation management. A highlight of my college career was getting the chance to study abroad in London and experiencing royal history firsthand. I have a passion for royals, royal history, and journalism, which led me to want to write for Royal Central.