- “Ah, Arendelle, our most mysterious trade partner. Open those gates so I may unlock your secrets and exploit your riches! Did I say that out loud?”
- ―The Duke
The Duke of Weselton (also simply known as the Duke) is the secondary antagonist of Disney's 2013 animated feature film, Frozen. He is a pompous and xenophobic dignitary that was once Arendelle's closest partner in trade.
The Duke of Weselton is a dignitary from Arendelle's neighboring kingdom Weselton. However, a running gag throughout the film is that other characters call it "Weasel Town", much to his consternation and annoyance. His title proves he holds great power in his homeland, and on his formal wear, one will notice several badges and medals, indicating a history of significant accomplishment despite his rather meek and cowardly demeanor.
The Duke also has two burly bodyguards at his disposal; though they rarely speak, they are often seen standing by the diminutive royal's side to protect him from any and all potential harm. Even so, they do find their boss' character rather odd, considering their facial expressions during their introduction on Elsa's coronation day.
In relation to Arendelle, the Duke of Weselton controls the trading business between the two kingdoms, and notes that he's Arendelle's closest partner in trade. He's likely the closest visiting dignitary in the kingdom during Queen Elsa's coronation, judging by his prominence throughout the events of the film.
- What the Duke of Weselton lacks in stature, he makes up for in arrogance and showboating. He’s determined to get close to the new queen—that is, until Elsa’s magical secret is revealed. Then he’s the first to call her a monster and try to turn her own kingdom against her—anything that might help him exploit Arendelle’s tradable goods.
The Duke of Weselton is extremely pompous and greedy. Though invited to Arendelle for the ceremonial crowning of its new queen, the Duke was far more interested in potential business endeavors; he leaped at the opportunity to strengthen the bond between Weselton and Arendelle, since a healthier relationship would grant him further access to the latter kingdom's riches. While greedy, he went about achieving this goal with considerable decorum, as he was kind and courteous to both Queen Elsa and Princess Anna upon their first meeting.
Interestingly, the Duke was not only interested in wealth upon entering Arendelle: due to the kingdom's mysterious history (years before the coronation, the castle gates were closed off from both the public and visiting royalty for undisclosed reasons) the Duke arrived on Arendelle's land with suspicion that something suspicious was occurring, and was determined to uncover the truth.
The Duke's most striking traits are his cowardliness. Whenever even the slightest oddity occurs, he'll go into a panic, relying on his bodyguard brutes to protect him. He also has a hatred of magic and "sorcery", as he finds it to be highly dangerous, explaining why he was so hostile towards Elsa after her powers were revealed at the coronation ball. His fear of magic and the mysterious power that it holds is what drives him to perform his only immoral act, which was ordering his thugs to find and kill Elsa, hoping her death would end the eternal winter curse she accidentally caused.
However, despite his flaws, the Duke does have a heart to some degree. He's shown to care for the safety of others, besides himself, as seen when the dastardly Prince Hans claimed Princess Anna was killed by Elsa; the Duke found the news to be immensely shocking, especially considering the family ties between the two women. His claims that Elsa was a monster were a result of him nearly being killed by her magic, while his conspiracy to have Elsa assassinated was for the purpose of ending the unexpected winter (as he assumed that was the only way).
The Duke is a short and slender man with pink skin, a large pointed nose, blue eyes, small circular glasses, a gray mustache above his lips, gray hair on the sides and back of his head, and a gray toupee on the top of his head.
The Duke's attire is a dignitary uniform, consisting of a dark blue coat with gold lining, wavy patterns on the collar, a red shirt underneath, medals on the right side of his coat, a red sash hanging diagonally from his left shoulder, epaulets with tassels, red cuffs at the end of his coat's sleeves, white gloves, gray pants, and black boots.
The Duke of Weselton is first seen with his bodyguards entering Arendelle and nearing the castle gates. The greedy royal proves to be extremely excited, deeming Arendelle his most mysterious trade partner, and that he greatly looks forward to unlocking its secrets and exploiting its riches. However, he accidentally says this out loud to his guards. Along with the other dignitaries, the Duke attends Elsa's crowning coronation as well as the ball thrown in honor of her first night as queen. Anna and Elsa's steward, Kai introduces the snooty duke, which is when the short royal offers Elsa her first dance as queen, claiming he should have the honor being their closest partner in trade. Elsa rejects the offer politely, but volunteers Anna, to which the Duke agrees to nonetheless. Though he believes otherwise, he's a terrible dancer, constantly stepping on Anna's toes and making a complete fool out of himself. The entire event was merely a chance to become closer to the two princesses, hoping a close relationship would further enhance his trading business with Arendelle. In the middle of his routine, he questions the princess as to why the castle gates were closed for so many years, to which she nervously claims ignorance on the situation.
Not too long after the comedic scene, Anna and Elsa get into an argument, and the drama causes Elsa's secret power over ice and snow to be revealed. The fearful Duke calls her out, claiming it to be dark magic/sorcery, and orders his men to capture her the moment she flees, though he and his goons were nearly killed by an accidental blast caused by the queen, resulting in the Duke calling her out as a monster. Anna, the visiting Prince Hans, and the Duke follow after the queen, who escapes into the mountains, accidentally casting a powerful curse over Arendelle, putting it into an eternal winter. It begins to snow eerily throughout the land, causing the citizens to worry, though the Duke immediately becomes irrational, panicking, albeit humorously. He then suspects Anna to have powers as well, but the princess denies and explains that Elsa means no harm. The stubborn Duke finds it hard to believe, as she nearly killed him with her magic during the chase. However, to free the land from the curse, Anna volunteers to go after the queen. The Duke immediately agrees, and Anna departs, leaving her fiancé, Hans, in charge.
Over time, things have become worse in Arendelle, with the snow having become ice, freezing the entire kingdom. The living conditions have since become nearly unbearable for the citizens as, due to the curse overcoming the land in the middle of summer, no one is prepared for the harsh winter weather that's arrived. In response, Hans and the royal guards handout free cloaks and other necessities for the kingdom's inhabitants, much to the Duke's dismay. The Duke scolds Hans on his actions of giving away Arendelle's tradable goods, believing it to be a waste of resources and time. He instead notes his suspicion that Elsa and Anna are conspiring against the kingdom, stressing that action should be taken before they can attack. Hans takes this with offense and orders the Duke to restrain himself or be charged with treason. Disgusted by Hans' accusation, the Duke is left in cold silence. Suddenly, Anna's horse rushes into the square, but without the princess. Hans believes her to be in peril and assembles an army to embark on a search-and-rescue mission. The Duke volunteers his two bodyguards; before they depart, he gives them the confidential orders to assassinate Elsa under the assumption that her death will end the winter.
With Hans in charge, the bodyguards journey to Elsa's ice palace. Upon finding Elsa, they immediately take action and attack. Elsa soon gains the upper hand and uses her abilities to battle the duo, nearly killing them until Hans intervenes. The Snow Queen is later captured and imprisoned in Arendelle's dungeon. Meanwhile, in the castle parlor, Hans, the Duke, and the dignitaries discuss further courses of action when suddenly, Anna returns and desperately asks Hans to kiss her, prompting the Duke and the others to leave the room to give them some privacy. Unknown to the Duke and dignitaries, the prince is actually villainous and power-hungry; he refuses to help a cursed Anna and instead leaves her locked in the parlor to die. He returns to the dignitaries in the castle's dining hall, where he announces that Anna has died at the hands of Queen Elsa. Stunned, the Duke mourns her loss before declaring Elsa to be, without further doubt, a threat to their lives. He looks to Hans, Arendelle's new ruler, for guidance, and it is declared that Elsa will be charged with treason and sentenced to death.
While escaping her cell, Elsa accidentally causes a powerful blizzard to break through and consume the castle. The Duke of Weselton joins the other dignitaries, servants, and guards in evacuating to the castle's balcony for safety. From there, they are able to witness Anna (still alive) sacrificing herself to save Elsa from the murderous Hans, who is in turn revealed to be a liar and traitor. Elsa, meanwhile, mourns the loss of her sister, proving that she's not a heartless monster, and that her actions were accidental. Fortunately, Anna is revived, while Elsa learns that the key to breaking the curse is love. Before long, and much to the Duke's shock, the entire kingdom is thawed. The Duke tries to make amends with the queen, but due to his assassination attempts, he is forcibly escorted back to his ship to be deported. As he tries to bypass the guards, Kai returns with a message from Elsa, declaring that she has cut trade between Arendelle and "Weasel Town", forevermore, infuriating the Duke.
During the King of Arendelle's 70th birthday celebration, the Duke of Weselton visits and becomes enamored with Helga, one of the three Arendelle princesses. Helga presents him to her father, and afterwards, the Duke shares a dance with her. When they begin a courtship, he comes across Helga's eldest sister, Ingrid, who is heir to the throne. After the Duke introduces himself, she moves to find Helga. However, he stops Ingrid and remarks on her incredible beauty. As he makes advances on her, Ingrid rebuffs him, and out of panic, she blasts him away with ice magic. While he is sprawled on the ground, an unsuspecting Helga arrives. To cover up his failed seduction, the Duke explains to Helga that Ingrid attempted to win his romantic affection, but when he refused her, she used magic on him. However plausible the lie is, an unamused Helga rejects him as she knows the kind of man he is. Enraged, the Duke threatens to expose Ingrid to everyone in Arendelle because he believes the people deserve to know their future queen is a monster. At this, an angered Ingrid attempts to blast him, but Helga intervenes and takes the magical hit while the Duke escapes.
Later, his mind is wiped out of the incident and of both sisters' existence due to Grand Pabbie, who casts a memory spell on behalf of Gerda, the only remaining princess and heir to the throne following Ingrid's imprisonment.
In the stage adaptation, the Duke's role in the story essentially plays out the same, with some differences. When he first meets Elsa and Anna, the Duke shows some attraction toward the former, and tries to "tempt" her with his tango. However, this is only skin-deep, as this version of the Duke is also sexist—when advocating for Elsa's arrest after her powers are revealed, the Duke proclaims that no good can come from magic, "especially in the hands of a woman." When Hans rallies together his army to find and rescue Anna, the Duke actually joins the expedition (unlike the film, where he only sends his bodyguards).
Unlike most of the cast, the Duke rarely sings in the show. The only notable instance is during "Hans of the Southern Isles", where he offers his assistance in rescuing Anna, though he merely uses this as a coverup to kill Elsa. The Duke does have a tango dance number with an ensemble, however, which is performed just before "Love is an Open Door".
The most significance difference with the Duke's role occurs at the end of the show. After Elsa reclaims her position as queen, the Duke—having had a change of heart—pledges his loyalty to Elsa and pays his respects by bowing alongside the rest of Arendelle's populace. He then takes part in the finale reprise of "Let It Go".
The Duke appears in Frozen: Live at the Hyperion at Disney California Adventure, playing a role similar to that in the film. He is portrayed as widely eccentric and comedic, and also takes part of the ensemble during "Love is an Open Door". In the end, once the guards are ordered to arrest Hans, the Duke sleazily kisses up to the queen by agreeing with her decision, only to cause a huff upon hearing he has been ordered for arrest, as well. The Duke and Hans are later seen chained together during the finale.
In the Frozen Ever After attraction in Epcot, the Duke is referenced in the ride's queue. A poster is plastered on a wall declaring that the Duke of Weselton has been banned from all commercial activity within Arendelle, and his presence within the kingdom is to be considered trespassing.
- Originally, the character that would eventually become the Duke of Weselton was meant to be a royal handler for Anna and Elsa after the death of their parents; their fussy caretaker.
- According to the filmmakers, the regent character was going to be voiced by Louis CK.
- The Duke's real name is currently unknown.
- The Duke is a red herring. At his first appearance, he reveals himself to be wanting to "exploit Arendelle's tradable goods" in a monologue. He follows with "Did I say that out loud?" This makes the viewer believe he is the villain, even more so when he calls Elsa out for sorcery, and again when he sends his goons to kill her. However, the whole time, he is merely a cover-up for the real villain Hans.
- Leading up to the film's release, Disney marketed the Duke as the main antagonist. This eventually turned out to be a disinformation campaign to hide Hans' true nature.
- The Duke began a running gag/plot device of films featuring a red herring villain played by Alan Tudyk, which would be continued by Alistair Krei in Big Hero 6 and, in a direct reference, Duke Weaselton in Zootopia.
- The Duke of Weselton represents the fear that Arendelle's citizens had for Elsa, as the filmmakers had a difficult time showcasing the denizens' feelings towards her after the curse otherwise.
- When the Duke slips on Elsa's ice, Anna and Hans weren't around. When the citizens of Arendelle notice it's snowing, Hans says "You slipped on ice" to the Duke when he was convinced Elsa wanted him dead. However, he and Anna weren't around to see that he slipped and that Elsa froze the fountain.
- Duke Weaselton, a character from Zootopia, is named after the Duke of Weselton; referencing the mutual voice actor of the two characters, and the mispronunciation of Weselton.
- In the book Across the Sea, Anna and Elsa actually encounter the Duke again while visiting the kingdom of Vekretta. Though the Duke is still untrusting of Elsa, they end up on somewhat friendlier terms after Elsa relieves the city of a massive heat wave.
- In the Disney On Ice version of Frozen, the Duke is more of an overtly villainous character, who sought to kill Elsa to somehow reach his wealth-related ambitions. He also joined Hans' expedition to find the Snow Queen.