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The Dukedom of Cornwall was the first dukedom created in the peerage of England.

The present Duke of Cornwallmarker is The Prince of Wales, the eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II, the reigning British monarch (since 1952).


According to legend, Gorlois, Duke of Cornwall under King Uther Pendragon, rebelled against the latter's rule when the king became obsessed with Gorlois' wife Igraine. Uther killed Gorlois and took Igraine: the result of their union was the future King Arthur.

The Dukedom of Cornwall always belongs to the eldest son of the Sovereign. Cornwall was the first dukedom conferred within the Kingdom of Englandmarker, although the Dukes of Normandy (King of England), Brittany (Earl of Richmond) and Aquitainemarker (Duke of Lancaster) held substantial estates and fiefs within England, being based in Francemarker. The Cornish dukedom was first created for Edward, the Black Prince, the eldest son of Edward III in 1337. After Edward predeceased the King, the dukedom was recreated for his son, the future Richard II. Under a charter of 1421, the dukedom passes to the Sovereign's eldest son and heir.

If the eldest son of the Sovereign dies, his eldest son does not inherit the Dukedom. However, if the eldest son should die without children, his next brother obtains the Dukedom. Underlying these rules is the principle that only a son of the Sovereign—never a grandson, even if he is the Heir Apparent—may be Duke of Cornwall; similarly, no female may ever be Duke of Cornwall, even if she is Heiress Presumptive to the throne. It is possible for an individual to be Prince of Wales and Heir Apparent without being Duke of Cornwall. For example, King George II's heir-apparent, the future George III, was Prince of Wales, but not Duke of Cornwall (because he was the King's grandson, not the King's son). When the Sovereign has no sons the estates of the Duchy of Cornwall revert to the Crown until another Duke is born (e.g. between 1547 and 1603) (see more below).

In 1856-1857 there was a case of arbitration between the Crown and the Duchy of Cornwall in which the Officers of the Duchy successfully argued that the Duchy enjoyed many of the rights and prerogatives of a County palatine and that although the Duke was not granted Royal Jurisdiction, was considered to be quasi-sovereign within his Duchy of Cornwall. The arbitration, as instructed by the Crown, was based on legal argument and documentation, led to the Cornwall Submarine Mines Act of 1858.

In 1969-71 the Royal Commission on the Constitution recommended that official sources properly refer to Cornwallmarker as a Duchy and not merely a county. This is in recognition of its special constitutional position.

The current Duke of Cornwall

The current Duke of Cornwall is H.R.H. Charles, Prince of Wales, eldest son of H.M.Queen Elizabeth II the reigning monarch. Charles was officially proclaimed Duke of Cornwall at Launceston Castlemarker in 1973. As part of his feudal dues there was a pair of white gloves, gilt spurs and greyhounds, a pound of pepper and cumin, a bow, one hundred silver shillings, wood for his fires, and a salmon spear.

Following their marriage celebrated at the Guildhall in Windsormarker on 9 April 2005, Charles's second wife has used the style Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall rather than Princess of Wales, to avoid confusion with the late Diana, Princess of Wales.

Rights of the Duchy

Should there be no Duke of Cornwall at any time, the income of the Duchy goes to the Crown. The Duchy includes over 570 square kilometres of land, more than half of which lies in Devonmarker. The Duke also has some rights over the territory of Cornwallmarker, the county, and for this and other reasons there is debate as to the constitutional status of Cornwall. The High Sheriff of Cornwall is appointed by the Duke, not the monarch, in contrast to the other counties of England and Wales. The Duke has the right to the estates of all those who die without named heirs (Bona Vacantia) in the whole of Cornwall. A sturgeon caught in Cornwall is ceremonially offered to the Duke . The Duke has right of wreck on all ships wrecked on Cornish shores. In 2003, the Duchy earned £9,943,000, a sum that was exempt from income tax, though the Prince of Wales chose to pay the tax voluntarily.


Standard of the Duke of Cornwall
The Arms of the Duke of Cornwall are "sable fifteen bezants Or", that is, a black field bearing fifteen gold discs, representing coins. A small shield bearing these arms appears on the Prince of Wales' heraldic achievement, below the main shield. This symbol is also used by Cornwall County Council to represent Cornwall. These arms were adopted late in the 15th century and are often surmounted by a Prince of Wales coronet, four crosses patée and four fleurs-de-lis with an arch. Supporters are not always used, though the Cornish Red-billed Chough and ostrich feathers are sometimes found. Rather than the motto used by the Prince of Wales (i.e., Ich Dien, German for "I serve"), the Duke of Cornwall's Coat of Arms uses the motto "Houmout" (meaning "honour" or "high-spirited"), derived from the Black Prince. The banner of the Duchy of Cornwall is simplified, showing the fifteen gold bezants on a black field.

Dukes of Cornwall, 1337 Creation

All Dukes of Cornwall who have been the eldest living son of the sovereign are generally considered to have held the same creation of the dukedom. The following is a table of these Dukes of Cornwall, with the processes by which they became duke and by which they ceased to hold the title:

Duke of Cornwall Parent From To
Edward of Woodstock, "The Black Prince" Edward III 1337 (Parliament) 1376 (death)
Henry of Monmouth Henry IV 1399 (Parliament) 1413 (acceded as Henry V)
Henry Henry V 1421 (birth) 1422 (acceded as Henry VI)
Edward of Westminster Henry VI 1453 (birth) 1471 (death)
Edward Plantagenet, Earl of March Edward IV 1470 (charter) 1483 (acceded as Edward V)
Edward of Middleham, Earl of Salisbury Richard III 1483 (father's accession) 1484 (death)
Arthur Tudor Henry VII 1486 (birth) 1502 (death)
Henry Tudor, Duke of York Henry VII 1502 (death of brother Arthur) 1509 (acceded as Henry VIII)
Henry Henry VIII 1514 (birth) 1514 (death)
Edward Tudor Henry VIII 1537 (birth) 1547 (acceded as Edward VI)
Henry, Duke of Rothesay James I 1603 (father's accession) 1612 (death)
Charles Stuart, Duke of York James I 1612 (death of brother Henry) 1625 (acceded as Charles I)
Charles Stuart Charles I 1630 (birth) 1649 (acceded as Charles II)
James Francis Edward Stuart James II 1688 (birth) 1702 (attainted)
George Augustus, Duke of Cambridge George I 1714 (father's accession) 1727 (acceded as George II)
Frederick Louis, Duke of Edinburgh George II 1727 (father's accession) 1751 (death)
George Augustus Frederick George III 1762 (birth) 1820 (acceded as George IV)
Albert Edward Victoria I 1841 (birth) 1901 (acceded as Edward VII)
George, Duke of York Edward VII 1901 (father's accession) 1910 (acceded as George V)
Edward George V 1910 (father's accession) 1936 (acceded as Edward VIII)
Charles Elizabeth II 1952 (mother's accession) Current

Additional details appear in Cokayne, George Edward, The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant, A. Sutton, Gloucester, 1982. [orig. 13 volumes, published by The St. Catherine Press Ltd, London, England from 1910-1959; reprinted in microprint: 13 vol. in 6, Gloucester: A. Sutton, 1982 ]

Dukes of Cornwall, 1376 Creation

When his heir-apparent Edward of Woodstock, Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall predeceased him, Edward III granted Woodstock's son Richard a new creation of the title Duke of Cornwall. When Richard acceded the throne as Richard II in 1377, this creation merged to the crown.

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