A dukedom inherited by a Princess – Fife




(public domain)

On 27 July 1889, Alexander Duff, Earl Fife married the eldest daughter of the then Prince and Princess of Wales – the future King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. She was then known as Princess Louise of Wales and would be created Princess Royal after her father’s accession and the death of Victoria, Princess Royal. On their wedding day, Alexander was elevated to the further dignity of Duke of Fife and Marquess of Macduff, in the County of Banff, in the Peerage of the United Kingdom by Louise’s grandmother, Queen Victoria.1 As was usual, the titles were limited to the heirs male.

Louise and Alexander went on to have three children but tragically, their only son – named Alistair – was stillborn on 16 June 1890. Two daughters named Alexandra and Maud followed, and they were styled as “Lady” as the daughters of a Duke. They were, however, not eligible to inherit the Dukedom.

When it became clear that they would not have any further sons, Queen Victoria created a second Dukedom of Fife (with the subsidiary Earldom of Macduff) that had a special remainder to Alexandra and her heirs male or, in default thereof, to Maud and her heirs male. The 1889 creation upon his marriage would thus go extinct upon his death, along with the Marquessate of Macduff, but the 1900 creation would go to his eldest daughter Alexandra.

In 1905, Princess Louise was created Princess Royal, and their two daughters were bestowed the title of Princess of Great Britain and Ireland with the style of Highness. They also held rank and had precedence after all the members of the royal family with the style of Royal Highness.2

When Alexander died on 29 January 1912, Alexandra became Duchess of Fife and Countess of Macduff in her own right. On 15 October 1913, Alexandra married her first cousin, once removed, Prince Arthur of Connaught and she gave birth to her only child – yet another Alastair – on 9 August 1914. He would predecease her in 1943 without leaving any issue. Upon her own death in 1959, the Dukedom of Fife and the Earldom of Macduff thus passed to the heirs male of her sister Maud – as Maud had died in 1945. Maud had married the future Earl of Southesk on 13 November 1923, and they had one son – named James – together. With the special remainder all worn out, the Dukedom of Fife is now limited again to the heirs male. The current holder of the title is James’ son David, who succeeded to the title in 2015.

There are some other titles that are not limited to heirs male, though usually women can only inherit these in the absence of a brother. There is only one other Dukedom – that I know of – that has a remainder to women, the Dukedom of Marlborough. However, it seems unlikely that this will come to pass since there are plenty of male heirs.

  1. London Gazette
  2. London Gazette






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My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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