In light of the news that His Royal Highness, Prince Harry, will become the Duke of Sussex upon his marriage to Meghan Markle, we thought we should take a brief look at the previous holder of the title.
Prince Augustus Frederick was the sixth son of King George III and had this title conferred upon him in November 1801. Even then there was fake news, as we quickly found out. The media were frantically reporting that Prince Augustus Frederick was to become the Duke of Cambridge and that his brother Adolphus was to be the Duke of Sussex. Quite how the media managed to get it back to front we’re really not sure, but it took them almost a month to get the titles correct. Either way, we have two brothers granted the titles Duke of Cambridge and Duke of Sussex.
Finally, on 30th November 1801, this statement appeared naming the correct holders of the titles
The King has been pleased to grant his most dearly beloved son Prince Augustus Frederick and to the heirs male of his Royal Highness’s body lawfully begotten, the dignities of Baron of Arklow, Earl of Inverness and Duke of Sussex, of the United Kingdom and Great Britain and Ireland.
The King has also been pleased to grant to his most dearly beloved son Prince Adolphus Frederick and to the heirs male of his Royal Highness’s body lawfully begotten, the dignities of Baron of Culloden, Earl of Tipperary and Duke of Cambridge, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
The conferring of the title upon Prince Augustus Frederick meant that his heirs would also automatically be granted the title, but this was not to be the case as the prince married Lady Augusta Murray. Their marriage contravened the Royal Marriages Act as they were first married abroad, then married in England but without fully identifying themselves, nor did they seek permission from the monarch.
The couple did, it was reported, attend church three times to have their banns read, but the clergyman who married them assumed that Frederick was the prince’s surname as no title was given.
This married was annulled but the couple remained together and had two children, both of whom would of course now be illegitimate. However, the union was not to last and in 1801, the couple went their separate ways.
Prince Augustus was married a second time in 1831, to Lady Cecilia Gore, but managed a second marriage that contravened the Royal Marriage Act as once again he did not seek royal approval also and possibly, more importantly, the marriage was morganatic, i.e. she was not a royal princess. Despite this, they remained together until his death in April 1843.
It has been announced that Apartment 1 at Kensington Palace is being renovated ready for the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex to move into. Interestingly, this apartment was the former home of the first Duke of Sussex and his second wife, Cecilia, too.
When they occupied it the apartment was much larger and encompassed the one now known as 1A, which is currently the home of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and his family.
We have written about other royal marriages too. Did you know that a Romany girl married one of Prince Harry’s direct ancestors? Which scandalous elopement is one of the skeletons in the royal family’s closet? Click here to find out more.
Kentish Gazette 31 January 1794
Chester Chronicle 31 January 1794
Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex (1773-1843) c.1792-3, Watercolour on ivory | RCIN 420975 by Edward Miles (1752-1828). Courtesy of the Royal Collection.