Titles Deprivation Act 1917

Titles Deprivation Act 1917

The Titles Deprivation Act 1917 is an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom according to which enemies of the United Kingdom during the First World War could be deprived of their peerage and royal titles. Its long title was "An Act to deprive Enemy Peers and Princes of British Dignities and Titles." It received royal assent on 8th November 1917.


The First World War broke out following the assassination of the heir-apparent to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria by a Serbian nationalist in June 1914. The United Kingdom entered the war against Germany and its allies in August.

The British Royal Family was closely related to its German enemies. Queen Victoria married the German Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, whose German titles passed eventually to the descendants of their youngest son Leopold, Duke of Albany. Victoria's eldest daughter, also named Victoria, married Frederick III, German Emperor. Thus George V was a first cousin of William II, German Emperor and of Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. A more distant relative was Ernest Augustus, Crown Prince of Hanover, who was descended in the male line from George III and thus was a Prince of Great Britain & Ireland.

Many members of the German royal families enjoyed British royal or noble titles leading to a call for the deprivation of their titles. In 1915, several Knights of the Most Noble Order of the Garter were struck off the Rolls of the Order; but peerage titles cannot be withdrawn except by Act of Parliament. In 1917, therefore, the Parliament passed the Titles Deprivation Act authorising the deprivation of peerage titles, as well as princely dignities.

Deprivation of Titles

The Act allowed the King to establish a committee of the Privy Council, which was to include at least two members of the Judicial Committee. The committee was empowered to take evidence and report the names of British peers or princes who served in an enemy military force, or rendered assistance to or voluntarily resided in an enemy nation. The report would then be laid before both Houses of Parliament; if neither House passed a motion disapproving of the report within forty days, it was to be submitted to the King, whereupon the persons named therein would lose all British dignities.

Thereafter, a successor of a person thus deprived of a peerage is allowed to petition the Crown for restoration thereof; the petition is to be referred to a committee of the Privy Council, which may recommend whether the petitioner be reinstated or not.

Under the Act, the King appointed to the committee:
*The Lord Finlay (Lord Chancellor)
*The Viscount Sandhurst (Lord Chamberlain of the Household)
*The Marquess of Lansdowne
*The Marquess of Crewe
*The Lord Newton
*The Lord Stamfordham (Private Secretary to the Sovereign)
*The Lord Sumner (a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary)

The committee reported their findings to the King in August 1918; on March 28, 1919, the King issued an Order-in-Council depriving the following persons of their titles:

*HRH The Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (Duke of Albany, Earl of Clarence, Baron Arklow and a Prince of the United Kingdom)
*HRH The Crown Prince of Hanover (Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale, Earl of Armagh and a Prince of the United Kingdom)
*HRH The Duke of Brunswick (a Prince of the United Kingdom)
*The Viscount Taaffe (Viscount Taaffe and Baron Ballymote)

To date, no descendant of the persons who were deprived of their titles has petitioned the Crown for the restoration of the said titles.


* [http://www.geocities.com/noelcox/Peerage_Law.htm Cox, Noel. "The Legal Standing of the Peerage and Baronetage." "New Zealand Universities Law Review".]
* [http://www.heraldica.org/topics/britain/deprivation1917.htm Titles Deprivation Act 1917.]

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