Prince William, Kate to be Duke, Duchess of Cambridge

Phil Noble / Reuters

Prince William and Kate Middleton, seen here in Wales in February, will now be known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

By Rachel Elbaum

Most grandmothers give gifts of china or bed linens, but on Prince William’s wedding day he has received a dukedom from his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth.

The prince will now be known as the Duke of Cambridge, and has also received the titles Earl of Strathearn and Baron Carrickfergus.  A duke is the highest rank below that of monarch in the British nobility.

 Kate will be known as the Duchess of Cambridge. The title has not been in use since 1981, and was originally created in 1801. Kate will officially become Princess William of Wales, although this title will not be used.

As a royal tradition, it was largely expected that the queen would confer a dukedom to William upon his marriage. Since William announced his engagement, there has been a guessing game in the press as to the title he would receive. Other possibilities included the Duke of Sussex, the Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, and the Duke of Clarence and Avondale. Queen Elizabeth could also have created a new title for her grandson.

Reportedly, William’s uncle Prince Edward was going to be given the title of Duke of Cambridge - that is until he watched Shakespeare in Love, which had a character called the Earl of Wessex.  He liked the sound of it and requested that title instead.

And here's a little-known fact about a previous holder of this title: The second duke of Cambridge, Prince Adolphus Frederick, was the seventh son of King George III. A true romantic, he defied the Royal Marriage Act, and married his mistress, Sarah Louisa Fairbrother, an actress and a commoner, in 1847. Since the marriage wasn't legal, his children were all illegitimate.

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