Prince Edward is now known as the Duke of Edinburgh, but the position won’t pass to his teenage son, James.
On Friday, King Charles announced that he had conferred the title used by his father, Prince Philip, onto his youngest brother. In a thoughtful touch, the news was shared on Prince Edward’s 59th birthday.
The new appellation makes Prince Edward’s wife, Sophie, the Duchess of Edinburgh, and their 15-year-old son James, who has been styled as Viscount Severn since birth, the new Earl of Wessex. Edward received his earl title when he and Sophie wed in 1999, and she has been known as the Countess of Wessex. (The shift did not affect the title of Prince Edward and Sophie’s 19-year-old daughter, Lady Louise.)
In announcing Edward as the new Duke of Edinburgh, Buckingham Palace specified that “the title will be held by Prince Edward for His Royal Highness’s lifetime.” After, it will revert to the crown.
One day, the position could pass to one of Prince William’s younger children — Princess Charlotte, 7, or Prince Louis, 4 — when he becomes monarch someday. The stipulation that the dukedom of Edinburgh will go back to the crown aligns with King Charles’ rumored vision for a slimmer, modern monarchy.
Prince Edward and Sophie opted not to use prince and princess titles for their children even though they were the grandchildren of the monarch.
“We try to bring them up with the understanding they are very likely to have to work for a living,” Sophie told the Times of London about their decision to not use “His/Her Royal Highness” titles for Louise and James. “Hence, we made the decision not to use HRH titles. They have them and can decide to use them from 18, but I think it’s highly unlikely.”
It had been Prince Philip’s wish that his youngest son would receive the Duke of Edinburgh title after his death. On Prince Edward and Sophie’s wedding day, Buckingham Palace even indicated that the appellation was earmarked for them, The Times reported.
“The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales have also agreed that Prince Edward should be given the dukedom of Edinburgh in due course, when the present title held now by Prince Philip eventually reverts to the crown,” the palace said in a statement at the time, per the outlet.
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Despite this, when Prince Philip died in 2021, the title went to Prince Charles (now King Charles) as his eldest son. Reports swirled that Charles would hold onto the title, with some commentators saying it would not go to Edward and Sophie as he mulled what to do with it.
After waiting several months since becoming monarch, King Charles poignantly handed his brother the long-awaited title on his birthday.
On the eve of his wedding in 1947 to then-Princess Elizabeth, Prince Philip was made the Duke of Edinburgh, Baron Greenwich and Earl of Merioneth. The newlyweds were known as the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh until the Queen acceded the throne in 1952, while Prince Philip retained his Duke of Edinburgh styling throughout life.