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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
1362 (first creation)|
1412 (second creation)
1461 (third creation)
Edward III (first creation)|
Henry IV (second creation)
Edward IV (third creation)
|Peerage||Peerage of England|
|First holder||Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence|
|Last holder||Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale|
Earl of Ulster
Earl of Aumale
Earl of Warwick
Earl of Salisbury
1368 (first creation)
The title was first granted to Lionel of Antwerp, the second son of King Edward III, in 1362. 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 (according to William Shakespeare) by being drowned in a butt of Malmsey.
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 consort. 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 is said to originate from the town of Clare, Suffolk, which was owned by the first Duke of Clarence, Lionel of Antwerp. His wife, Elizabeth, 4th Countess of Ulster, was a direct descendant of the previous owners, the de Clares, and the Manor of Clare was among the lands which she brought to her husband. After the Union of the Crowns in 1603, the holders of the title were also given titles including Scottish place names: St Andrews and Avondale.
The title was first created for Lionel, a younger son of Edward III who in 1352 had married Elizabeth de Burgh, 4th Countess of Ulster, the sole heiress in a female line of Gilbert de Clare, 8th Earl of Gloucester. The Clarence was the Clare estates, and as owner of them by right of his wife Lionel was given that title.
The Dukedom is currently vacant. While there were some speculations that it is one of the options available for Prince Harry upon his wedding with Meghan Markle, press reports have also noted the Dukedom's checkered past, including scandals and unfounded rumors of criminality related to Prince Albert Victor. Prince Harry was ultimately awarded the Dukedom of Sussex.
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.
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.