Prince Edward title explained: Will he lose Earl of Wessex when he is Duke of Edinburgh?


PRINCE EDWARD is expected to become the next Duke of Edinburgh. What will happen to his Earl of Wessex title when he does?

Prince Edward, 57, is Queen Elizabeth II’s youngest son and was made the Earl of Wessex upon his wedding to Sophie, Countess of Wessex, 56, in 1999. While sons and grandsons of the Queen are usually gifted dukedoms when they marry, Edward is understood to have opted for the lower-ranking peerage because of his admiration for the Wessex character in the film Shakespeare in Love.

This means Edward currently holds a lesser peerage than other senior male members of the Firm and at the time of his marriage, the Palace announced he would one day inherit his father Prince Philip’s Duke of Edinburgh title.

In a statement released at the time of Edward’s wedding, the Palace said: “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 held now by Prince Philip eventually reverts to the Crown.”

Following Philip’s death in April his title automatically passed to his eldest son Prince Charles, 72, and will merge with the Crown when the Prince of Wales becomes king.Prince Edward title explained

Prince Edward title explained: Will he lose Earl of Wessex when he is Duke of Edinburgh? (Image: GETTY)

Prince Edward title explained

Prince Edward title explained: Prince Charles is the current Duke of Edinburgh but the title will merge with the crown when he is king (Image: GETTY)

As sovereign, Charles will have the power to redistribute the Duke of Edinburgh title as he sees fit and it has recently been claimed he does not intend to pass it on.

Last weekend a royal source told the Sunday Times: “The prince is the Duke of Edinburgh as it stands, and it is up to him what happens to the title. It will not go to Edward.”

Another added: “Edinburgh won’t go to them [the Wessexes] as far as the prince is concerned.”

But despite speculation, it seems likely Edward will get the title as it was his father’s personal wish.

Prince Edward title explained

Prince Edward title explained: Sophie and Edward are likely to keep their Wessex titles even if the take the Edinburgh peerage (Image: GETTY)

What will happen to Edward’s Earl of Wessex title?

Many senior members of the monarchy hold more than one title and Edward is likely to remain the Earl of Wessex even after he is made the Duke of Edinburgh.

Edward currently also currently holds the subsidiary title of Earl of Forfar which he uses while in Scotland.

The practice of holding multiple titles at once is commonplace within the monarchy and a recent example is that of Prince Charles who took on the Duke of Edinburgh peerage following the late Duke’s death.

Charles already holds a number of royal titles.

He is Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, The Duke of Edinburgh and also has the subsidiary title of the Duke of Rothesay.

Edward’s Earl of Wessex peerage is only likely to pass on following his death, at which point his son James, Viscount Severn, 13 is expected to inherit it.

While Edward and Sophie’s children were granted HRH styles and prince and princess titles at birth, they chose to raise them without the special honours.

Prince Edward title explained

Prince Edward title explained: Edward’s titles will pass on to his son James following his death (Image: GETTY)

It is understood the couple wanted to give their children as much privacy as possible growing up and so styled them after Edward’s peerage rather than having them go by prince and princess.

Their daughter is Lady Louise Windsor, 17, and their son is James, Viscount Severn.

Both the Wessex children will be able to choose whether or not to adopt their royal titles when they turn 18.


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