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Did You Know Queen Elizabeth Is Also a Duke, Not a Duchess?

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Like many other monarchs, Queen Elizabeth has quite a few titles attached to her name. Born Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, she earned her first title as Princess Elizabeth of York before her father ascended to the throne, and she became simply Princess Elizabeth. After marrying Prince Philip, then known only as his newly minted title Duke of Edinburgh, Elizabeth also earned the title of Duchess of Edinburgh. Of course, that all changed when she took her place as queen. Officially, she is known as Elizabeth the Second, by Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith. It’s quite the mouthful, but definitely fitting for someone of her status.

That’s not even taking into account the adorable, non-official nicknames Elizabeth has been given over the years. Growing up, she responded to Lilibet, and later allowed her first grandson, Prince William, to refer to her as Gary when he couldn’t quite pronounce granny. Now William’s children have their own precious nickname for their great grandmother: Gan-Gan.

All of that aside, there’s probably one title you weren’t aware Her Majesty is also known as in a territory of England called the Duchy of Lancaster. The private estate is held by whoever is reigning at the time, which is how Elizabeth became known as the Duke of Lancaster — not duchess — to residents of the area. According to the duchy’s official website, the title of duke dates back to 1399 and continues to be used even if the reigning Sovereign happens to be female, as has been the case with Elizabeth. The website explains further: “At gatherings of Lancastrians within the County Palatine and worldwide, the toast is: ‘The Queen, Duke of Lancaster!’” Spanning nearly 46,000 acres across England and Wales, the main purpose of the estate is to provide a source of independent income to the reigning Sovereign. The net income from the duchy is paid to the sitting monarch as landowner, divided into agricultural, commercial, and residential assets. 

Whether you call her Queen Elizabeth, Lilibet, or Duke of Lancaster, there’s no denying what is perhaps her most impressive title: the longest reigning monarch in British history. Unlike all of her inherited titles, it will likely be a long time before another member of the royal family gains that particular honor from her in the future.

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