Prince vs Duke: What’s the Difference?

Prince and Duke

One cannot make mistakes when it comes to royalty. In addition to an intricate differentiation between a duke and a prince, this article will cover other royal titles and important names in royalty today.

What is the Main Difference Between a Prince and a Duke?

The main difference between a duke and a prince is that a duke does not need to be a part of the royal bloodline. Another key difference is that the title “duke” is only defined in Europe, whereas the title “prince” is given to rulers’ sons all around the world.

Even Europe has witnessed a decline in dukes; those of whom remain dukes up till today will be listed in the following section.

By definition, a prince is a male member of the ruling class, especially the son of a sovereign (Merriam-Webster). In Britain specifically, a man can only be crowned prince if his grandfather or grandmother were once kings of the United Kingdom or queen of the United Kingdom, respectively.

Therefore, if you are looking to become a prince, marry a queen, not a princess! Interestingly, marrying a queen could make you a prince, but marrying a princess does not – it would only make you a duke.

This brings us to our definition of a duke. A dukedom can be either inherited from a parent or bestowed by the reigning king or queen. Just as a man cannot become a prince by marrying a princess, he cannot become a duke by marrying a duchess.

Other Differences

These cases differ in the opposite direction. While a woman can become a duchess by marrying a duke (a recent example of that is Meghan Markle, who became Duchess of Sussex upon marrying Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex), she does not earn the title “princess” when she marries a prince.

As you may have noticed, Harry, son of Princess Dianna of Wales, is both a prince and a duke. That is because the title “duke” is normally given to princes before marriage or when they become of age.

However, it is not necessary for a prince to become a duke – Prince Edward, son of Queen Elizabeth II, is a good example of that. Instead of Duke, he chose the title “Earl of Wessex”.

In the following table, we will compare the ‘Prince’ title to the ‘Duke’ title specific to Britain.

Prince vs Duke: Key Differences

PRINCE DUKE
Necessarily a member of the royal bloodline Not necessarily of royal blood
Not a part of the peerage system Highest rank in British peerage system
Does not give the ‘Princess’ title to his wife Gives the ‘Duchess’ title to his wife
Higher ranking than duke Lower-ranking than the prince

In other countries, princes are simply the sons of the king. The eldest usually becomes king upon the death of his father.

In case the king had no sons, the royal family follows other specific protocols in naming the next king. Since these protocols differ among different monarchies, I will not get into their specifics in this article.

What are All Royal Titles in Order? Is a Duke Higher Than a Prince?

The highest title in a monarchy is obviously King/Queen. This is followed by Prince/Princess since the most important factor in royalty is whether or not the individual is of royal blood. These titles are followed by the “peer” titles, set by the peerage system of Britain.

The highest rank in the peerage system is Duke/Duchess. The rest of the titles follow in the following order.

  • Marquess/Marchioness: Earl of an important border county.
  • Earl/Countess: Head of a county, referred to as count in other European countries.
  • Viscount/Viscountess: Originally administrators or judges ruling a specific county.
  • Baron/Baroness: Landowners, referred to as Lord/Lady.

There is only a slight difference between a marquess and an earl. The difference in rank comes from the importance of the region, and border counties were considered of the highest importance in earlier times.

The son of a duke is also referred to as Lord and the daughter as Lady.

Sons of princes and princesses have no specific title; they are sometimes referred to as princes and princesses themselves as they are the future princes and princesses of the monarchy (if their father or mother become king or queen, respectively).

List of Princes and Dukes in the World

In this section, we will list plenty of well-known princes and princesses in the world. After that, we will narrow the scope to only the United Kingdom.

  1. Prince Gbenga Oguntayo
  2. Princess Beatrice Elizabeth Mary of New York, daughter of Prince Andrew
  3. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  4. Prince Haji Abdul Azim of Brunei
  5. Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah of Jordan
  6. Prince Hamdan bin Mohammed of Dubai
  7. Prince Constantine-Alexios of Greece and Denmark
  8. Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana of Thailand
  9. Prince Philippos of Greece and Denmark
  10. Prince Sebastien of Luxembourg

As you can see here, princes are not limited to Europe. The Arab region has many princes, and it is believed that the Saud family of Saudi Arabia has single-handedly raised around 4,000 princes. However, the Arab region does not have dukes as the United Kingdom does.

We now move to the royals of the United Kingdom, which we will present as a family tree.

Queen Elizabeth II (1952- Present) and

Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (1921-2021)

Charles, Prince of Wales, and Dianna, Princess of Wales

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall

Anne, Princess Royal Andrew, Duke of York and Sarah, Duchess of York Edward, Earl of Wessex and Sophie, Countess of Wessex
William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex Princess Beatrice of York Princess Eugenie of York Lady, Louise Windsor James, Viscount Severn
Prince George of Cambridge Princess Charlotte of Cambridge
Prince Louis of Cambridge

Of course, there are dozens of other former royals; however, we have narrowed it down in this section to royals of modern times.

If you are interested in learning more about royals in ancient times, please visit the following website which presents the content very beautifully!

Is Prince Charles Considered a Duke?

Yes. Prince Charles, the eldest of Queen Elizabeth II’s sons, has several titles and more than one dukedom. Prince Charles is also known as the Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland.

These titles, while impressive, are more traditional than earned titles. Unlike ancient times, where titles were earned through battles and wars, titles in the UK today are either inherited from ancestors or bestowed by the monarchs.

Wrap Up

While princes are found all over the world, dukes and other peers are only found in the UK. Today, the world is divided into democracies, dictatorships, monarchies, colonies, and other government forms.

The title of duke used to be earned depending on the actual areas governed by each man. Today, it is more of a sovereign tradition. Nonetheless, it is interesting to study the history of the ruling classes and watch them develop and change over time.

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