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British Royals

Why are William and Catherine known as Duke and Duchess of Rothesay in Scotland?

Commonwealth Secretariat via Flickr

Many know Prince William and Catherine as the Prince and Princess of Wales. In Scotland, many know them under a different name – the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay.

Following the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022, William immediately assumed the traditional title of an heir to the throne of England and became Duke of Cornwall. For the first day following the accession of King Charles III, the couple were known as the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and of Cambridge. Within 24 hours of becoming King, Charles III made his elder son the Prince of Wales. However, by then, William had also assumed another title. He was also Duke of Rothesay, the title traditionally held by the heir to the Scottish throne.

The dukedom dates back to 1398 when the son of Robert III of Scotland, David Stewart, first held the title. After his death, his brother James, who later became King James I, received the dukedom. From there, the heir apparent to the Scottish Crown inherited the dukedom. In 1469, an Act of the Parliament of Scotland confirmed the succession pattern.

Following the union of the crowns, the style of the Duke of Rothesay appeared to drop out of usage in favour of the Prince of Wales title. Queen Victoria mandated the title be used to refer to her oldest son and the heir apparent when in Scotland. Since then, the usage has continued.

The 1469 Act of the Parliament of Scotland states if the first-born “Prince of the King of Scots for ever” should hold dukedom, and if they die before they are king, the heir does not inherit the title. This is because the title is only for the first-born son. If their brother becomes heir apparent, only then will they obtain the title.

Unless the title succession guidelines change before the Duke of Rothesay becomes King, his oldest son, Prince George, is expected to inherit his father’s title when the Duke becomes King.

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.