- “Announcing his imperial grace, the Grand Duke.”
- ―The Herald
The Grand Duke is a character in the 1950 Disney animated feature film, Cinderella. He is the King's prim, yet fussy right-hand man. The Duke is charged with overseeing imperial matters, a job at which he is dutiful out of both loyalty to the Crown, and fear of losing his head to the ill-tempered king.
The Grand Duke is the personal adviser of the King and Prince Charming and is tasked with keeping peace within the kingdom. Though often seen with the King, Dreams Come True and A Twist in Time shows that he's head of the castle servants, as well as the valet of Charming, the King's only son.
The Grand Duke presents himself as dignified and intelligent, basing his point of view in realism and logic, a direct foil to the King who, in comparison, is very over-the-top and tends to act on romanticized fantasies. This is ironic, considering the fairy tale setting in which the Duke resides in, establishing his character as an Everyman figure.
Often harried and forced into performing demeaning tasks, the Grand Duke can be fairly short-tempered, and often disapproves of the actions made by the King, though he continues to abide by said actions each time out of fear, which almost questions how genuine his loyalty really is. Nevertheless, despite their contrasting personalities and occasionally bitter relationship, the Duke does appear to have some concern for the king's well-being. This is evidenced by the Duke's continuous concerns over his majesty's blood pressure when the latter is in the midst of a temper tantrum. He also tries his best to act as a voice of reason to the, oftentimes, overly-stressed King and appears to be viewed as a confidante by his majesty as a result of this. Furthermore, there appears to be some form of camaraderie between the King and the Duke, as although their relationship is generally professional, they often act as friendly rivals, as they acknowledge their differences between fantasy and reality, bet against such differences, and taunt one another when one viewpoint reigns superior. An example of this can be seen during the night of the ball, where Prince Charming and Cinderella meet for the first time. The Duke can also be rather boastful in this regard, though he knows humility, and isn't likely to cause a fuss in response to being proven wrong—once again, a direct foil to the King.
The Grand Duke is first shown with the King, who misses the sound of children running around the castle, and wishes to see grandchildren before he passes away. He tries to figure out how to find his son, Prince Charming, a wife. He comes up with the idea of throwing a ball at his castle and orders the Grand Duke to arrange the ball to celebrate the Prince's return home and to find him a wife.
The Grand Duke finds the King's ideas of love at first sight charming but unrealistic, and when he sees Prince Charming finding himself only bored by the women attending the ball, chastises the King gently, telling the king that his romantic ideas of the Prince suddenly seeing a strange lady and falling in love with her, at first sight, were a story seen only in fairy tales (made especially ironic by the fact that the story of Cinderella is itself a fairy tale). But even as he does so, Prince Charming sees Cinderella and is fascinated by her appearance. The Grand Duke seems taken with Cinderella as well and figures that if the Prince has fallen for this maiden he will do his superior's bidding to make it run smoothly.
The King then orders the Grand Duke to ensure that Cinderella and Prince Charming have a perfect evening, undisturbed and away from any crowds, which he competently arranges by closing the curtains to let the two have a private time together. However, when the clock strikes midnight, Cinderella rushes off and the Grand Duke begs her to stay there. When this fails, he orders guards to try to stop her. He is unsuccessful but is able to collect the glass slipper she has left behind. The Grand Duke is also ready to handle bad news, having to interrupt the King's merriment by telling him the girl with whom Prince Charming has spent the evening has disappeared. As expected, the King becomes enraged, accusing the Grand Duke of conspiring with the Prince to get out of marriage. As the King attempts to kill the Duke out of fury, the Duke dodges whilst explaining that the young woman has left behind the slipper, and the Prince will not rest until she is found, as he is determined to marry none but the one who fits the slipper, finally satiating the King's rage. The Duke then points out sensibly to the King that the slipper may fit any number of ladies' feet, but the King simply points out that that is the Prince's problem. He then orders the Duke to find the lady who fits the slipper, to which the Grand Duke says he will have every single woman in the kingdom try it on until a match is found.
The next morning, after a long night of searching, the Grand Duke, accompanied by the Herald, arrives at the home of Lady Tremaine. After trying the slipper on Anastasia and Drizella (who both try their hardest to get it on), he is about to leave, but then Cinderella appears. Ignoring Lady Tremaine's insistence that Cinderella is only a serving girl and could not possibly have been at the ball (though she is sure that she did), the Grand Duke orders Tremaine to step aside so that he can try the slipper on Cinderella, as his orders were every maiden. He calls to the Herald to deliver the slipper, but Lady Tremaine trips the latter, causing the slipper to fly and shatter into pieces in front of the Duke and Cinderella. This makes the Duke feel horrified and terrified about the King's reaction. Cinderella, however, reveals that she has the broken slipper's match, and the Grand Duke is overjoyed to the point that he kisses the slipper with profound relief, both at the replacement and the fact that it is definite proof of the maiden's identity. He slides the slipper onto her foot and finds that it fits. He then takes Cinderella, along with her mice friends, Bruno and Major, to the castle, where Cinderella reunites with Prince Charming, Leaving the Tremaine's shocked and ruined.
Finally, the Grand Duke appears at the film's finale, where he and the King jubilantly throw confetti to celebrate the wedding of Cinderella and Prince Charming, who both walk down the stairs and ride off in a carriage that takes the newlyweds on their honeymoon.
In the sequel, the Grand Duke reappears as the King's right-hand man and assistant. The Duke helps Cinderella adapt to her new princess life which proves to be difficult. In the first story "Aim to Please" Cinderella must gain the ability to both act and dress as a princess, as well as set up the royal feast. The Duke originally offered to help Cinderella, but the job was instead given to his rival, Prudence, who resented the Duke. In the end, however, Cinderella throws an excellent ball, whilst the Duke develops a romantic relationship with Prudence.
In the next story "Tall Tail", he and Cinderella have grown a close friendship and spend most of the current days working around the castle alongside its staff, side by side. At the end of the segment, the Duke and the King attend the Spring Festival, which culminates in both of them taking a ride on a mad elephant.
In the third film, the Grand Duke reappears as a main character once again. Lady Tremaine steals the Fairy Godmother's magic wand and changes history so that Anastasia's foot fits the slipper. Like in the original film, the Duke arrives in Tremaine's manor with the Herald and seeks the girl who fits the slipper, and through Tremaine's magic, Anastasia is the one. He takes her, Lady Tremaine, and Drizella back to the castle to meet Charming, but like the prince himself, the Duke doesn't find Anastasia or her family to be very admirable and find there's obviously something astray going on, though the King does not, as he's able to see the beauty Anastasia truly holds within. Eventually, however, Lady Tremaine's villainy is revealed due to the efforts of Cinderella, Charming, Jaq, Gus, and the Grand Duke has the guards search every inch of the castle to have the three Tremaines arrested, though they manage to escape until their return at the climax of the film, where Prince Charming is able to reverse one of Lady Tremaine's curses, transforming her and Drizella into scullery maids in the castle and restoring peace in the kingdom.
In The Little Mermaid, the Grand Duke, and the King were cameo guests of Prince Eric and Vanessa's wedding ceremony. They are briefly seen when Eric's dog, Max, rushes by them and bites Vanessa on the rear.
In the television series House of Mouse, the Grand Duke makes numerous cameos, usually sitting with the King. In the episode "Ask Von Drake", the Duke was seen trying to fit the glass slipper onto Drizella until Ludwig Von Drake advised him to try it on Cinderella.
An emoticon version of the Grand Duke also appeared in the Cinderella entry of the As Told by Emoji short series.
The Grand Duke is portrayed by Stellan Skarsgård in the 2015 remake where, unlike his animated counterpart, here he is portrayed as an antagonist. He is more loyal to the kingdom's future than the Prince's and the King's wishes to further his own power.
He first appears in the film expressing his worries to the King about the Prince's obsession with a girl he met in the woods on a hunt one day. He later appears at the ball, introducing the Prince to Princess Chelina. Lady Tremaine overhears the Duke worrying that the Prince is spending time with the "mysterious princess." Lady Tremaine later blackmails the Duke into giving her power, while she doesn't tell the king that the mysterious princess was, in fact, a peasant worker.
In So This Is Love: A Twisted Tale, the Duke is called Ferdinand and is the main antagonist. He and his ancestors had taken advantage of the royal family’s insecurities by convincing them to get rid of all Fairies. He fails to do so, however, and is punished.
Like in the film, the Grand Duke appears watching the ball as it took place, gladly seeing that the Prince had found a maiden (Cinderella) he seemed rather fond of. However, Terra, who had escorted Cinderella safely through Unversed-infested halls, noticed that there were more Unversed above the Ballroom and asked the Grand Duke for directions to reach the Balcony. To make matters worse, the Unversed fed off the jealousy of Lady Tremaine and her daughters and transformed into the Symphony Master. Terra managed to slay it and asked the Grand Duke how long the Unversed had been infesting the Castle of Dreams. The Grand Duke informed him that a boy in a mask visited the kingdom a little while ago and released the creatures, which obeyed him without question.
However, things took a turn for the worse as at the stroke of midnight, the beautiful girl fled the castle, leaving behind a single glass slipper. It was then that the King gave the order to hold a search party, saying that any maiden who fits the slipper would be Prince Charming's bride. The Grand Duke then left without hesitation to carry out his command.
Eventually coming before the young Aqua, a Keybearer from outside the Castle of Dreams and informed her of Lady Tremaine's identity after Aqua received a bad vibe from her. He then traveled to Tremaine's home to begin his search. Luckily, Cinderella escaped from her room after being imprisoned by Lady Tremaine and he fitted the slipper on her foot. However, an Unversed created from Tremaine's jealousy tried to kill them. Luckily, Aqua slew it and its progenitor, allowing the Grand Duke to take Cinderella to the Prince.
A figure of the Grand Duke accompanies the player in riding Cinderella's carriage when the vehicle is selected.
In the former show Cinderella's Royal Coronation, the Grand Duke appears alongside the King and plays a fairly large role in the show itself. The Grand Duke appears and introduces the King and later introduces Disney character guests.
Inside of Enchanted Storybook Castle, the Grand Duke is seen on Cinderella's wall carving.
Aboard the Disney Magic, the Duke is a supporting character in the musical Twice Charmed. Here, he's mostly seen accompanying Prince Charming, not only as his guardian but also as his closest companion, as the King's role isn't as large. The relationship between the two is far greater, and the Duke's character as a whole is fleshed out a little more. It appears he once had other ambitions besides working for the King, prompting him to fully support Charming's dreams of finding the girl he danced with at the ball.
- The Grand Duke is the name used for a hotel in Disney's film Enchanted.
- The Grand Duke can be heard screaming the trademark Goofy holler when he and the King fall from the chandelier after the Duke informs the former of Cinderella's departure from the ball.
- As Cinderella is running away from the castle at the stroke of midnight, the Duke calls her "¡Señorita!", implying that he may have visited Spain at one point, or he's at least studied Spanish.
- In the Italian dub the Grand Duke has a proper name: Monocolao (a reference to his monocle).