Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
In the United Kingdom, the title of "dowager" applies to women who fit one of two qualifications:
- widow of a previous holder of a title of peerage
- ancestress of the present holder of the title
In loose popular usage, dowager as a stand-alone noun may refer to any elderly woman.
Titles and Styles
Generally speaking, dowager peeresses may use one of three styles:
- "Duchess (or Marchioness, Countess, Viscountess, or Baroness, as appropriate) of X"
- "Dowager Duchess of X,"
- "N, Duchess of X"
where "N" stands for the forename.
As long as the present male title-holder has no wife, a dowager retains the title she used when her late husband was the peer: "Duchess of X". However, the woman who marries the present peer will come to use the title "Duchess of X". Thus, when the present peer marries, the dowager must choose whether she wants to use the form "Dowager Duchess of X" or the form "N, Duchess of X," where N stands for the forename.
- Empress dowager and Grand empress dowager in China.
- Records variously refer to Catherine of Aragon as the "Princess Dowager of Wales" or "Dowager Princess of Wales" following the annulment of her marriage to King Henry VIII of England, on account of the fact that prior to her marriage to Henry in 1509 she had married in 1501 Henry's older brother, Arthur, Prince of Wales (died 1502).
- Following the death of Edward John Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer in 1992, his widow, Raine , ceased to use the style Countess Spencer, becoming Raine, Dowager Countess Spencer. Her step-daughter-in-law, Victoria, became Countess Spencer.
- Compare Queen Dowager
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