Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Where exactly is the Duchy of Albany?

Doune Castle
Visitors to the very fine Doune Castle will learn that it was built by Robert, Duke of Albany. Robert was the first person to own this enigmatic title which, unusually, has no relationship with any land. It was later given to the sons of kings prior to succeeding, or to younger sons (the best available title short of king). Other Dukes of Albany were Henry Lord Darnley, husband of Mary Queen of Scots, Charles I and James II.

The last Duke of Albany
Queen Victoria’s youngest son, Prince Leopold was created Duke of Albany in 1881, but was a haemophiliac and died aged 30. His son, Charles Edward, also reigning duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, was deprived of his British peerages and honours for having fought in the German Army (eventually as a general) during WWI.

‘Albany’ comes from the Celtic word Alba, the island of Great Britain as opposed to Ierne, Ireland. When the southern part of Britain became Anglo-Saxon, the name settled on the Celtic lands north of the Forth and Clyde. Today it means Scotland and at the Scottish border you’ll see Fàilte gu Alba, Welcome to Scotland.

‘Albany’ is the Anglo-Saxon rendering of Alba (Cf. Brittany, Saxony, Lombardy). The title was first created in 1398  for the said Robert Stewart, builder of Doune Castle, second son of King Robert II, who was a ruthless Regent for three Scottish kings - his father, brother and nephew - who for various reasons were unable to rule effectively.

Charlotte, Duchess of Albany
‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ latterly styled himself ‘Count of Albany’ and Charlotte, his daughter by Clementina Walkinshaw, was titled Duchess of Albany in the Jacobite Peerage. Charlotte herself had three illegitimate children, two girls and a son, Charles Edward, who became an officer in the Russian army. He told such tall tales of his origins and adventures that few believed his claims to royal descent until the 20th century when it was established that he was indeed who he had claimed to be. He died in 1854 as the result of a coach accident near Stirling Castle and is buried at Dunkeld Cathedral, where his grave can still be seen. He married twice but had no children.

But that, apparently, is not the end of the Duchy of Albany. At least not according to His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Albany, who styles himself 7th Duke of Albany due to his descent (6G grandson) from Prince Charles Edward Stuart through Comtesse Marguerite o’Dea d’Audibert de Lussan - not a familiar name to most. It’s a long story, told at length by Prince Michael in his book ‘The Forgotten Monarchy of Scotland’, available from Amazon in paperback £1.64p.