He will pay his father the ultimate compliment by adopting his title — bestowed on Philip by George VI when he married — securing himself as Her Majesty’s “liege man” with the passing of her beloved husband.
Senior courtiers will confirm the move after Prince Philip’s funeral in Windsor on Saturday. It means the heir to the throne will become the Duke of Cornwall and Edinburgh while retaining his lead title, the Prince of Wales.
Prince William, second in line to the throne, was today set to pay a heartfelt tribute to his grandfather. Prince Harry, who is back in the UK quarantining before the funeral after flying in from California without his pregnant wife Meghan, is also expected to pay tribute.
The brothers will walk behind the coffin during the funeral procession, as they did with Philip’s encouragement as boys, along with him, Charles and Earl Spencer, at Diana’s funeral in 1997.
It is hoped the family reuniting for Philip’s funeral will help ease tensions between William and Harry over his and Meghan’s recent Oprah Winfrey interview, and their decision to step back from royal duties.
Former prime minister Sir John Major said: “I hope very much that it is possible to mend any rifts that may exist.”
On Charles’s new titles, one source told the Standard: “All titles held by the Duke of Edinburgh will revert to the Prince of Wales.” Another source said: “The Queen is fully aware of this and in agreement.”
As heir to the throne, he will retain the title of Prince of Wales, which the Queen conferred on him as a child, along with being the Earl of Chester, by letters patent in 1958. The official investiture was not held until July 1, 1969 at Caernarfon Castle.
It is understood that once Charles becomes king, it was Prince Philip’s wish that his youngest son, Prince Edward, currently Earl of Wessex, would become the Duke of Edinburgh.
The letters patent issued when Prince Philip was given his title in 1947 established that the Prince of Wales would gain the title of Duke of Edinburgh through the line of succession. But when Charles ascends to the throne, the title will “merge with the crown”, meaning it can be regranted.
In recent years, the Queen, who is 95 this month, has reduced her public engagements. She no longer takes part in the Remembrance ceremony at the Cenotaph, watching instead from the Foreign Office balcony as the Prince of Wales leads the wreath-layers below. The issue of her age came to a head when it was announced in 2013 that she would not attend the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Sri Lanka as she was reviewing long-haul travel commitments. In reality she was “scaling down”. Her last trip abroad was to Malta in 2015.
After the Duke of York’s BBC Newsnight interview about Jeffrey Epstein, it was Charles who acted as de facto head of the family when he insisted Andrew should stand down from public duties.
Whether Charles’s increasingly prominent role amounts to some kind of “job share”, as has been suggested by some, is perhaps a matter of semantics. In the Queen’s view, however, the situation would be perfectly clear: she is the sovereign, he is the heir. She reads her red boxes, she presides over the state opening of parliament, she has weekly audiences with the Prime Minister. What has been going on for some time — and will continue — is a palace evolution. More Charles, less Queen, and more of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Although the Queen still holds investitures, a number are carried out by Charles, William and the Princess Royal.
The Queen will not abdicate as she believes it is a job for life. The possibility that Charles will become Regent appears to have been ruled out for the moment. A senior figure who worked closely with the Queen for many years said: “What really matters for the Queen is her sense of duty. She would only want what is good for the country and the institution of which she is custodian.”