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Duke of Clarence

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Dukedom of Clarence

Arms of George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence (third creation): Quarterly, 1st and 4th, France modern, 2nd and 3rd England, with a label of three points Argent each point charged with a canton Gules
Creation date1362 (first creation)
1412 (second creation)
1461 (third creation)
Created byEdward III (first creation)
Henry IV (second creation)
Edward IV (third creation)
PeeragePeerage of England
First holderLionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence
Last holderPrince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale
Subsidiary titlesFirst creation:
Earl of Ulster
Second creation:
Earl of Aumale
Third creation:
Earl of Warwick
Earl of Salisbury
Extinction date1368 (first creation)
1421 (second creation)
1478 (third creation)

Duke of Clarence was a substantive title created three times in the Peerage of England. The title Duke of Clarence and St Andrews has also been created in the Peerage of Great Britain, and Duke of Clarence and Avondale and Earl of Clarence in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. The titles have traditionally been awarded to junior members of the English and British royal family, and all are now extinct.


The title was first granted to Lionel of Antwerp, the second son of King Edward III, in 1362, as he had married a de Clare heiress with estates including Clare in Suffolk. Since he died without sons, the title became extinct.

The title was again created in favour of Thomas of Lancaster, the second son of King Henry IV, in 1412. Upon his death, too, the title became extinct.

The last creation in the Peerage of England was for George Plantagenet, brother of King Edward IV, in 1461. The Duke forfeited his title in 1478, after he had been convicted of treason against his brother. He allegedly met his end by being drowned in a butt of Malmsey (according to William Shakespeare).

A fourth creation in England was suggested and planned to take effect; the title of Duke of Clarence was going to be given to Lord Guilford Dudley, husband of Lady Jane Grey, upon her coronation, as she declined to make her husband king. However, she was deposed before this could take effect.

Two double dukedoms, of Clarence and St Andrews and of Clarence and Avondale, were later created for British royal princes. The title also took the form of an earldom for Queen Victoria's son Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, and his son Prince Charles Edward, the Clarence earldom being a subsidiary title.


The title does not refer to the minor River Clarence in Pas-de-Calais, northern France, but is said by Polydore Vergil to originate[1] from the manor and castle of Clare in Suffolk, the Caput baroniae of a feudal barony, which was held by Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence, in right of his wife, the heiress Elizabeth de Burgh, 4th Countess of Ulster, ultimate descendant and heiress of the previous holder, the de Clare family; Clare was among the many estates which she brought to her husband.[2] After the Union of the Crowns in 1603, the holders of the title were also given titles named after Scottish places: St Andrews and Avondale.

Duke of Clarence, first creation (1362)[edit]

The title was first created for Lionel, a younger son of King Edward III who in 1352 had married Elizabeth de Burgh, 4th Countess of Ulster, the sole heiress via a female line of Gilbert de Clare, 8th Earl of Gloucester. The name Clarence referred to the feudal barony of Clare in Suffolk, and as the holder of it (and others) by right of his wife Lionel was given that title.

Duke Portrait Birth Marriage(s) Death
Lionel of Antwerp, Duke of Clarence
also: Earl of Ulster (1264 jure uxoris)
Lionel of Antwerp 29 November 1338
Antwerp, Duchy of Brabant (now Belgium)
son of Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault
Elizabeth de Burgh, 4th Countess of Ulster
15 August 1352 - 10 December 1363
1 child

Violante Visconti
28 May 1368
no children
7 October 1368
Alba, Piedmont
aged 29

Died without male issue.

Duke of Clarence, second creation (1412)[edit]

Duke Portrait Birth Marriage(s) Death
Thomas of Lancaster, Duke of Clarence
also: Earl of Aumale (1412)
Drawing of tomb effigy of Thomas of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Clarence Autumn 1387
son of Henry IV of England and Mary de Bohun
Margaret Holland
no children
22 March 1421
Battle of Baugé, Anjou, France
aged 33

Died without legitimate male issue.

Duke of Clarence, third creation (1461)[edit]

Duke Portrait Birth Marriage(s) Death
George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence
also: Earl of Warwick and Earl of Salisbury (1472)
George Plantagenet 21 October 1449
Dublin Castle, Ireland
son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York and Cecily Neville, Duchess of York
Isabel Neville
11 July 1469
4 children
18 February 1478
Tower of London, London
aged 28

Executed for treason in 1478 and honours forfeited.

Similar titles[edit]

William IV was styled "HRH The Duke of Clarence" between his creation in 1789 and his accession in 1830

Earls of Clarence (1881)[edit]

Duke of Clarence and St Andrews (1789)[edit]

  • William IV (1765–1837), who became king in 1830, at which point the title merged with the Crown.

Duke of Clarence and Avondale (1890)[edit]

Family tree[edit]

Possible future creations[edit]

The Dukedom is currently vacant. While there was some speculation that it was one of the options available for Prince Harry upon his wedding with Meghan Markle, press reports also noted the Dukedom's chequered past, including scandals and unfounded rumours of criminality related to Prince Albert Victor.[3][4] Prince Harry was ultimately awarded the Dukedom of Sussex.


  1. ^ Polydore Vergil, in his Anglica Historia of 1534 (Book XIX.36) dates the Dukedom to 1361 and claims to have rediscovered the lost origins of the name. See also David Hatton, Clare, Suffolk, an account of historical features of the town, its Priory and its Parish Church, 2006, Book 1, p21 ISBN 0-9524242-3-1 It is also available online on the Clare website. See also the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography s.v. 'Lionel [Lionel of Antwerp], duke of Clarence': "Lionel's elevation to the title of duke of Clarence (meaning the town, castle, and honour of Clare)".
  2. ^  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Clarence, Dukes of". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 6 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 427–428.
  3. ^ Scotti, Monique (19 May 2018). "A look at Harry and Meghan's new titles: Duke and Duchess of Sussex". Global News. Retrieved 19 May 2018. Clarence is tainted by more than a bit of bad luck, for instance, with one Duke of Clarence executed by his brother as a traitor (Shakespeare even wrote about that particular incident). Another Duke of Clarence, the grandson of Queen Victoria, got himself mixed up in a scandal involving a gay-prostitution ring. He later died of influenza at just 28.
  4. ^ Davies, Caroline (19 May 2018). "Harry and Meghan to be Duke and Duchess of Sussex". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 May 2018. Clarence has had a chequered history as previous holders have died young, been drowned in a barrel of Malmsey wine or erroneously rumoured to be Jack the Ripper.