Wednesday 22 August 2007
Loyal Toasts - the heart and stomach of a lord but not a duke
As a traditionalist Young Fogey is a firm believer in toasts -- dinners can never have too many. Loyal Toasting traditions are of particular interest. For example, the lawyers of Lincoln's Inn and the Officers of the Royal Navy famously remain seated during the Loyal Toast (although, as a sign of their distinction, officers of the Royal Yacht stand). Swan Uppers toast "The Queen, Seigneur of the Swans" whilst standing with skill in their boats on the river. I often hear mention of the regional loyal toasts of the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, two of these enjoyable and romantic toasts, both of which ascribe masculine qualities to Our Sovereign Lady, have little basis in fact.
"The Queen, The Duke of Lancaster" is the traditional Loyal Toast of the ancient County of Lancaster and is still heard in Lancashire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside. Unfortunately, as the title of "Duke of Lancaster" merged with the Crown in 1413, this charming toast is a little bit of nonsense. The Queen may hold and receive income from the physical Duchy of Lancaster but she is certainly not the Duke of Lancaster (a fact which has escaped the editors of Royal Insight); there has been no such person for six centuries.
It is impossible for the Sovereign to hold a peerage title. The absurdity arising from such a scenario would have included the right of the Sovereign to a seat in the Lords (before the recent removal of most of the hereditary peers); furthermore, at his/her coronation, the Sovereign if he/she were the senior peer of that degree, would be required to swear allegiance to his/herself and place his/her own hand between his/her own hands (!).
A peerage ceases to exist when it merges with the Crown. In 1936 the Duke of York became King George VI and his peerage merged with the Crown. Similarly, the title of Duke of Lancaster, which had been created in 1362, merged with the Crown in September 1399 upon Henry IV's accession. The fact that the dukedom merged with the Crown is substantiated by the fact that it was necessary to create a Charter in October 1399 to confer the title of "Duke of Lancaster" on Henry IV's son. However this title similarly merged with the Crown upon Henry V's accession to the throne in 1413. The title was never recreated. Furthermore, were there a Dukedom and were The Queen able to hold a peerage title Her Majesty would be "Duchess" rather than "Duke" of Lancaster. Possession of a duchy does not automatically make one a duke.
The Queen is known as "Duke of Normandy" in Jersey, where the historic, and unofficial, Loyal Toast is to "La Reine, notre Duc" or "The Queen, Our Duke" (tradition dictates that this is only used when the gathering is composed entirely of Islanders). Again, as appealing as this tradition is, it also lacks any legal support as the Queen is not the Duke of Normandy (another fact that has been missed by Royal Insight). Henry III relinquished the title to Louis IX on 20 May 1259 as part of the the Treaty of Paris. The Channel Islanders (and other monarchists) may like the title but it has been extinct for 7.5 centuries.
Fortunately, for historical reasons, The Queen remains "Lord of Mann" and thus the Loyal Toast on the Isle of Mann "The Queen, Lord of Mann" is true, accurate and quite wonderful.