Why Charles III Has Not Yet Conferred The Duke of Edinburgh Title to Prince Edward?

King Charles III and the Earl of Wessex

This is the persistent question that most royal watchers are asking now. Why King Charles III has not yet conferred the title of Duke of Edinburgh, to his younger brother, Prince Edward? 

The king did some "immediate" moves following his accession to the throne, in a way that surprised us. For instance, the granting of the title, Prince of Wales, to his heir and son, Prince William. Although the former Duke of Cambridge eventually will become the Prince of Wales, the Royal World is just surprised at how the king quickly conferred it to his son.

Prince Philip and Prince Edward
Prince Edward and his father, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh 

King Charles III and the Earl of Wessex
The Earl of Wessex and the Prince of Wales 

But what surprised us most is his decision to delay the granting of the title of Duke of Edinburgh to the Earl of Wessex. Based on Buckingham Palace's statement in June 1999, this would be passed to Edward following the Queen's death. However, we must admit also that it is not automatic or immediate. It's at the pleasure of the monarch.

Just like the Prince of Wales and the Princess Royal titles, the Duke of Edinburgh can't just automatically be assumed by Prince Edward even if he is the designated heir of Prince Philip, it needs to be conferred by the monarch. So the decision is now in the hands of his brother, Charles III. 

The Earl and Countess of Wessex
HRH The Earl and Countess of Wessex

Based on the statement released by Buckingham Palace in June 1999 (due to press inquiries why Edward has only created Earl and not Duke), Prince Edward will inherit his father's title in due course, thus, only be granted an earldom (as Earl of Wessex) following his marriage. It was a personal wish of Prince Philip to pass the title to his youngest son, which was agreed upon by the Queen and Prince Charles. 

The Earl and Countess of Wessex
The Earl and Countess of Wessex on their wedding day, June 19, 1999

But Prince Edward will only inherit the title upon his mother's death, the time when the title reverts back to the Crown. He is not the eldest son of the title holder and noble titles can only be inherited by the firstborn. 

Prince Charles and Prince Edward go-carting in 1969

The Queen with her two younger sons, Prince Edward and Prince Andrew 

As a preparation for his future role as Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip passed his headship in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, an organization he founded in 1956, to the Earl of Wessex. Since Prince Philip's retirement from public duty in 2017, Prince Edward annually did several public engagements related to the Duke of Edinburgh Awards.

The Earl of Wessex and his mother 

Prince Edward, Prince Philip, and Sophie

When Prince Philip died in 2021, all his noble titles granted in 1947 by King George VI were automatically inherited by Prince Charles, his firstborn son, but Charles never actually used his father's titles, as he already had several peer titles to his name.

Prince Edward should have it upon the death of the Queen last month but his brother, surprisingly, has not decided yet. According to a Clarence House spokesperson, Charles III is yet to make a decision on whether to grant Prince Edward their father's titles or not. 

The Earl of Wessex, the Duke of York, and the King 

The King and his younger siblings during the Prince's Vigil for the Queen 

So the question now is, will the king still honor the wishes of his parents to bestow the Duke of Edinburgh title to Prince Edward? It is now almost two months since the Queen's death and yet no statement from Buckingham Palace or Clarence House regarding the official granting of the title.

Even the Earl of Wessex is no longer sure if he still can inherit it. In an interview with BBC in June 2021, following his father's death, Prince Edward said: "It was fine in theory, ages ago when it was sort of a pipe dream of my father, and of course, it will depend on whether or not the Prince of Wales, when he becomes king, whether he'll do that, so we'll wait and see. So yes, it will be quite a challenge taking that on."

The Earl and Countess of Wessex
The Earl and Countess of Wessex 

The Earl and Countess of Wessex
The Earl and Countess of Wessex 

If King Charles III wouldn't grant the title to his younger brother, he might be criticized for going against the wishes of his parents. Prince Philip and the Queen both wanted to make Prince Edward the Duke of Edinburgh. But Charles III is the king now, he can do whatever pleases him, including granting of titles.

Duke of Edinburgh, a brief history

If King Charles III would bestow this title to his younger brother, Prince Edward would be the fourth British prince to actually carry the title of Duke of Edinburgh since its first creation in 1726

Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh and Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

There were two more British princes, William Henry, and his son, William Frederick, who bore the title Duke of Edinburgh, but only as an addition to another ducal title - the  Duke of Gloucester.

The last member of the British royal family to carry the title of Duke of Edinburgh before Prince Philip was Prince Alfred, the second son of Queen Victoria. He also inherited his paternal uncle's ducal title, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, because Prince Ernest did not have sons.

The Duke of Edinburgh's title reverted to the British crown when Prince Alfred died in 1900 without a surviving son. His only son, also named Alfred, took his own life in 1899. The Dukedom of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was inherited by his nephew, Prince Charles of Albany, the maternal grandfather of King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden. 

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

The Duke of Edinburgh's title in the British royal family has been created three times. The first creation was in 1726 during the reign of King George I, the first of the Hanoverian kings in the UK. 

He created the title for his grandson, Prince Frederick, the eldest son of the future King George II. Frederick would become Prince of Wales in 1729, however, he still held the Duke of Edinburgh title. Frederick did not become a king. 

He predeceased his father, George II, in 1751. It was his eldest son who would later mount the British throne as George III, the grandfather of Queen Victoria. George III also held the Duke of Edinburgh title but never actually used it (just like King Charles) because he became the Prince of Wales a month after his father's death.

George III granted the dukedom of Edinburgh to his younger brother, Prince William Henry (1743-1805), in addition to the Duke of Gloucester title, in 1764. It passed to William's son, William Frederick (1776-1834). William married his first cousin, Princess Mary, the fourth daughter of his uncle, George III, but the marriage was childless.

Duke of Edinburgh title holders
Duke of Edinburgh title was created three times for Prince Frederick, Prince Alfred, and Prince Philip

  1. Frederick (1707-1751) - Duke of Edinburgh 1726-1751 (first creation)
  2. George (1731-1820) - Duke of Edinburgh 1751-1760 but only in papers, he actually did not use the title because he became the Prince of Wales at the same time.
  3. William (1743-1805) - Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh 1764-1805
  4. William (1776-1834) - Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh 1805-1834. The Swedish throne was offered to him because Charles XIII of Sweden had no sons, but the British government did not allow it, so the Swedish king nominated Jean Baptiste-Bernadotte, a French Marshal, to be his heir. Bernadotte became King Charles XIV John.
  5. Alfred (1844-1900) - Duke of Edinburgh 1866-1900 (second creation)
  6. Philip (1921-2021) - Duke of Edinburgh 1947-2021 (third creation)
  7. Charles (1948) - in papers he became Duke of Edinburgh between April 9, 2021, to September 8, 2022, but he never actually used it. The title reverted back to the crown after the Queen's death and the king did not bestow it to his eldest son.

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