Cecilia Underwood, Duchess of Inverness

Cecilia Underwood, Duchess of Inverness (nèe Cecilia Letitia Gore) (c1785 - 1 August 1873) was the second wife of Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex, the sixth son of King George III. As their marriage was in contravention of the Royal Marriages Act 1772, it was considered legally void, and she could not be styled as the Duchess of Sussex. She was created Duchess of Inverness in her own right by Queen Victoria on April 10, 1840.

Early life

Cecilia's exact date of birth is not known, although it is around 1785. Her father was Arthur Saunders Gore, 2nd Earl of Arran (1734-1809) and her mother was Elizabeth Underwood. She was styled Lady Cecilia Gore at birth, the courtesy title of a daughter of an Earl.


Lady Cecilia's first marriage was to George Buggin, in 1815. The marriage produced no children and George died on 12 April 1825.

She later married Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex, the sixth son of King George III, at Great Cumberland Place, London. The Duke of Sussex had already married Lady Augusta Murray in 1793, but the marriage was annulled in 1794 as it contravened the Royal Marriages Act 1772 which required that all members of the British Royal Family seek permission of the sovereign before marriage. However the Duke of Sussex's second marriage also contravened the Act, making it legally void.

Duchess of Inverness

As the marriage was not considered legal in the UK, Lady Cecilia could not take the style Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex. Instead she assumed the name "Underwood", her mother's maiden name, by Royal Licence and was known as Lady Cecilia Underwood. The couple resided at the Duke's apartments in Kensington Palace.

However Lady Cecilia was not accepted as a full member of the British Royal Family. The Duke of Sussex's mother, Queen Charlotte, disapproved of the marriage and refused to receive Lady Cecilia at court. Also, strict royal protocol restricted Lady Cecilia at any functions attended by other members of the Royal Family, as she was unable to take a seat beside her husband due to her low rank. To compensate for this, in 1840 Queen Victoria created her Duchess of Inverness in her own right. This recognised her husband's subsidiary title of Earl of Inverness.

The Duke of Sussex died at Kensington Palace and was buried at Kensal Green Cemetery. The Duchess of Inverness continued to reside at Kensington Palace until her death in 1873. She was buried next to her second husband.


  • Lady Cecilia Gore
  • Lady Cecilia Buggin
  • Lady Cecilia Underwood
  • Her Grace The Duchess of Inverness

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