Prince Edward Just Got A New Title. What Does That Mean?

The late Queen's fourth child is going up in the world (sort of).
 Prince Edward just got a new title as a birthday present
Prince Edward just got a new title as a birthday present

Prince Edward (one of the lesser-spotted royals) just got a new title from his brother, King Charles – and it’s a role that comes with a certain history.

Edward just turned 59, and to mark the occasion the monarch officially named him as the Duke of Edinburgh, a title he will have for the rest of his life.

But who is Edward?

He might not be one of the royals we typically talk about (YouGov polling puts him as the seventh most popular member of the Firm, although 91% have still heard of him) but he and his wife Sophie were very close with the Queen.

They have been considered more “trusty” and stable members of the Royal Family over the last few decades, with few personal dramas making headlines over the years.

Edward, the fourth and youngest child of the late monarch and her husband Prince Philip, is also 13th in line to the throne at the moment.

And before becoming the Duke of Edinburgh, Edward had been the Earl of Wessex ever since he married his wife in 1999, then known as Sophie Rhys-Jones – she will now become the Duchess of Edinburgh.

Their 15-year-old son James will inherit the title of the Earl of Wessex, while their daughter will remain Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor.

Edward is also the Earldom of Forfar, another Scottish title which he will keep for his lifetime but will rarely use as the Duke of Edinburgh is a more senior role.

Edward and his wife Sophie with Prince Philip, in 2016
Edward and his wife Sophie with Prince Philip, in 2016
Dominic Lipinski via PA Wire/PA Images

Why is this a big deal?

The Duke of Edinburgh title is more about prestige, as it does not come with any land or additional income – although it does mean Edward can now attend his brother’s coronation in May as a duke.

But, Charles’ decision to give the title to Edward does also offer interesting insight into the Royal Family.

The role is not hereditary after all, even though the late Prince Philip had worn it ever since the night before his wedding to their mother, the late Queen, a few years before she inherited the throne.

They were known as the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh right up until the Queen’s ascension in 1952.

It comes as the King seems to be amping up Edward and his older sister Princess Anne’s royal roles.

After all, Parliament fast-tracked a change in law to make the pair “counsellors of state” – meaning they can act on behalf of the King – towards the end of last year.

It comes as two previous counsellors of state – Prince Andrew and Prince Harry – are no longer working royals.

Was it always going to go to Edward?

It was a bit up in the air.

Edward had been pipped to inherit the title from his father for more than 20 years, as the Palace announced the royal would take it on in due course when he got married, on Philip’s wishes.

But, when Philip died in April 2021, the title bounced to his eldest son Charles automatically (although he didn’t use it). It then returned to the crown when Charles became the monarch last September.

The King was then able to confer it onto whomever he wanted to – and there was speculation the title would even go to Princess Charlotte, Charles’ granddaughter.

Edward also told the BBC in June 2021 that the idea for him to inherit the dukedom was “a pipe dream of my father’s”.

Clarence House then confirmed that Charles had not made any “final decisions” about who would get the role after Philip’s death.

Who else has been Duke of Edinburgh?

The Duke of Edinburgh title has only ever been used three times by previous royals, excluding Philip.

In 1726, King George II gave it to his eldest son Prince Frederick, in 1764, King George III gave it to his brother Prince William as part of a joint title and Queen Victoria gave it to her second son Prince Alfred in 1866.

As the new Duke of Edinburgh, the Palace has made it clear that Edward will “continue Prince Philip’s legacy of promoting opportunities for young people of all backgrounds to reach their full potential”.

Edward and Sophie will be in Edinburgh to mark the first year of the war in Ukraine on Friday, too.


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