is a widow who holds a title or property derived from her deceased husband. It is usually associated with monarchical
In the United Kingdom, the title of "dowager" is applied to women who fit two qualifications:
- She is the widow of a previous holder of a title of peerage, and
- The present holder of the title is her descendant.
Generally speaking, dowager peeresses may be known by one of three styles, the forms being: "Duchess (or Marchioness, Countess, Viscountess, or Baroness, as appropriate) of X," "Dowager Duchess of X," and "N, Duchess of X". As long as the present title-holder is not married, a dowager is known by the title she used when her husband was the peer: "Duchess of X." However, the title "Duchess of X" will be used by the woman who marries the present peer. 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 is the forename.
- Empress dowager and Grand empress dowager in China.
- Catherine of Aragon was variously described as the "Princess Dowager of Wales" or "Dowager Princess of Wales" following the annulment of her marriage of King Henry VIII of England, on account of the fact prior to her marriage to Henry she was widow of Henry's older brother, Arthur, Prince of Wales.
- Following the death of John Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer in the early 1990s, his widow, Raine, ceased to be Countess Spencer, becoming Raine, Dowager Countess Spencer. Her step-daughter-in-law, Victoria, became Countess Spencer.
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