The Queen and Prince Philip have three sons: Prince Charles, who is Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall, Prince Andrew, who is Duke of York, and Prince Edward, who is Earl of Wessex. So why does Prince Edward lack the same title as his brothers? The answer may provide a look into the future of the royal family.
To be sure, Prince Edward is not the only royal sibling without a duke or duchess title: his sister, Princess Anne, has the title of Princess Royal, which she was given in 1987. But Edward is the only male child of the Queen and Prince Philip to lack the Duke title. Instead, he is the Earl of Wessex, a title given to him on the day of his wedding in 1999.
So why is he an earl? It’s not because he’s the black sheep of the family-quite the contrary, as he’s known to be especially close to his parents. Apparently, it was all his choice. According to The Telegraph, he was set to be Duke of Cambridge, but declined because of a character named Lord Wessex in Shakespeare in Love. "He liked the sound of it and asked the Queen if he could have that instead,” a royal courtier told the newspaper in 2010. Now, Prince William has the title of Duke of Cambridge.
In fact, Wessex isn’t even a current region of the United Kingdom. According to Britannica, it was one of the kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England, whose leaders eventually took over the entire country. The area of Wessex is prominent in the legend of King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table, and the novels of Thomas Hardy.
But his earl status might be only temporary. The Sunday Timesreports that Prince Edward will become the next Duke of Edinburgh, a title currently held by Prince Philip.
Technically, the title of Duke of Edinburgh would go back to the crown after Prince Philip’s death, and then would go to the next-in-line to the throne, so that would be Prince Charles. But the Queen could reissue the title to Prince Edward; if Charles is king by then, he wouldn’t have to give his brother the title if he didn't want to, but it seems likely Prince Edward will one day end up as Duke of Edinburgh. That would even out the royal brothers-at least, that is, until their oldest brother becomes the monarch.
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