Prince Edward got the gift of a brand new royal title to celebrate his birthday this year.
On Friday, the same day the royal turned 59 years old, his older brother King Charles announced that he has conferred the title created for their late father Prince Philip onto Edward and he will henceforth be known as the Duke of Edinburgh.
Because of this, Edward’s son, James, Viscount Severn, has become the Earl of Wessex, the title given to Edward upon his marriage to his wife Sophie Rhys-Jones in 1999. The royal family’s official website has also been updated to reflect the whole family’s new title changes as Sophie has also become the Duchess of Sussex, the title last held by the late Queen Elizabeth.
In a statement regarding the announcement, Buckingham Palace wrote, “His Majesty The King has been pleased to confer the Dukedom of Edinburgh upon The Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and Forfar, on the occasion of His Royal Highness’s 59th birthday.
The title will be held by Prince Edward for His Royal Highness’s lifetime.” It went on to explain that, “The Dukedom was last created for Prince Philip in 1947, upon his marriage to Princess Elizabeth, who held the title of Duchess of Edinburgh before acceding to the throne in 1952. The new Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh are proud to continue Prince Philip’s legacy of promoting opportunities for young people of all backgrounds to reach their full potential.”
It was always Prince Philip’s wish that his youngest son should receive his title after his death. Prince Edward and Sophie were also the two royals who most often stepped in to take over many of the late Duke of Edinburgh’s duties towards the end of his life, representing him at various events and award ceremonies such as the one he founded for the Duke of Edinburgh volunteering program for young people.
In 1999, when Edward and his wife were given the title of Earl and Countess of Wessex, Buckingham Palace even noted in the announcement, “The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales have also agreed that the Prince Edward should be given the Dukedom of Edinburgh in due course, when the present title now held by the Prince Philip eventually reverts to the Crown.”
However, following Prince Philip’s death in 2021, the title went to his eldest son Charles. There was some speculation at the time that the future king would retain the title for himself, but after ascending to the throne he has now chosen to pass it down to his brother who will hold it for the rest of his lifetime.
Following Edward’s death, the Dukedom will again revert to the crown, meaning that in the future it could potentially be passed on to one of Prince William’s younger children, Princess Charlotte or Prince Louis.