Titles Deprivation Act 1917

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The Titles Deprivation Act 1917 allowed enemies of the United Kingdom during the First World War to be deprived of peerage and royal titles.

Background

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 of 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. Victoria, who ruled during most of the nineteenth century, married the German Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. George V was the first cousin of the German Emperor William II. Many members of the Royal Family who enjoyed royal or noble titles aided the enemy, 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. Individuals, however, could not be struck off the Peerage Rolls 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 peers or British princes who served in an enemy military force, or rendered assistance to or voluntarily resided in an enemy nation. The report was then required to be laid before both Houses of Parliament; if within forty days, neither House passed a motion disapproving of it, it was to be submitted to the King, whereupon all individuals whose name was contained therein was to be struck off the rolls of the Peerage and was to lose all British Royal styles and titles. Thereafter, a successor of a peer deprived of his title as aforementioned was allowed to petition the Crown for a restoration of the dignity; the petition was to be referred to a committee of the Privy Council, which could recommend that the petitioner be reinstated.

Under the Act, the King appointed to the committee:

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

References

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