Okay, this is that moment that Royal Watchers have known for YEARS (like, from the day Edward and Sophie got married) was coming. But it turns out there is a twist. It’s a twist we might should have seen coming. Let me see if I can explain.
Prince Philip was titled as:
His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, and Baron Greenwich on the day of his marriage to Princess Elizabeth in 1947.
To figure out what happens to the Titles now, we need to look at the 1947 Letters Patent AND Letters that were issued in 1999 the morning of the Wedding of the Prince Edward to Miss Sophie Rhys-Jones.
So Let’s start with the relevant portion of the statement from the College of Arms earlier today:
The Titles of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
The Duke of Edinburgh was granted the style and title of Royal Highness on 19 November 1947; on the next day, 20 November, he was created Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich, of Greenwich in the County of London. These peerages are hereditary and on the death of His Royal Highness have passed to his eldest son, HRH The Prince of Wales. In the event of the Prince of Wales or any subsequent holder of these titles succeeding to the Crown, these titles and all others held will merge with the Crown.
But, but….I thought Prince Edward was supposed to be the Duke of Edinburgh after his father? That’s what we’ve heard since his wedding in 1999, right?
Well, sort of, it seems we sped read past the fine print on that one.
Here is the text of the press release issued the morning of Edward’s wedding (emphasis mine):
The Queen has today been pleased to confer an Earldom on The Prince Edward. His titles will be Earl of Wessex and Viscount Severn. The Prince Edward thus becomes His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex and Miss Sophie Rhys-Jones on marriage will become Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex.
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 now held by Prince Philip eventually reverts to the Crown
The title only reverts to the Crown when a male heir ascends to the throne and becomes King of England.
So, it seems that Edward still has a bit of waiting to do before he can be known as The Duke of Edinburgh. His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales will keep the title safe and sound for his youngest brother, though.