Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article used incorrect language regarding titles. Suggest regrets the error.
In the decades preceding his death in 2021, Prince Philip wanted his Dukedom of Edinburgh to pass to his youngest son, Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex. However, the politics of such a move are far more complicated than just making a note in a will. As it stands, the fate of the title is in the hands of King Charles III.
There Is No Current Duke Of Edinburgh
When Prince Philip passed away in April of 2021, Charles, the then-Prince of Wales, became the Duke of Edinburgh. In accordance with the law of inheritance, Philip’s eldest son inherited his title. It wasn’t until Charles became king that he gained the ability to create titles. For example, in one of his first acts as king, Charles created the Prince of Wales title for Prince William. The title was absorbed into the crown when Charles took the throne, so he created a new one for his son. The Duke of Edinburgh title is currently non-existent as the king is not allowed to hold any other titles. However, Charles still hasn’t acted on his pledge to his father and created the title for Edward.
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His hesitancy to do so has led many royalists to question Charles’ intentions. Now, it’s up in the air as to when or if Charles will create the Duke of Edinburgh title for his younger brother. Royal watchers have long speculated that Charles plans to usher in a new era of minimalism for the British monarchy, and it would seem in line with this theory that Charles would dismiss his original pledge. However, there’s plenty of nuance to this decision, and various avenues remain perfectly plausible.
Charles Could Still Pass The Title To Edward
There’s the possibility that Charles is saving the announcement for a special occasion, like Edward’s birthday in March. Then, there’s also the chance that Charles is simply waiting to sweeten the deal. Recent reports have suggested that Parliament is seeking to edit the Counsellors of State laws. As it stands, the next four adults in the line of succession are eligible to act as Counsellors of State.
However, two of those adults—Prince Andrew and Prince Harry—are not currently working royals. Recent reports have suggested that Parliament could change the law to allow Edward and Princess Anne to stand in. If this happens, Charles could be waiting to bestow the Duke of Edinburgh title on Prince Edward until he’s officially named as a Counsellor of State as a gift. That is, of course, if Charles intends to pass the title on at all.
Why Charles Might Not Grant Edward The Title
There’s no doubt that Charles is sure to face controversy if he decides not to create Prince Edward the Duke of Edinburgh. With that being said, there are plenty of reasons Charles may go down that path. First of all, it’s no secret that the Duke of Edinburgh is held in high regard. Unlike many dukedoms that have either been passed down distant branches of the family tree or have faded into abeyance, Edinburgh is a dukedom that the royal family likely wants to keep close. With that in mind, it might not be in its best interest to grant it to Edward.
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If Charles did bestow Edward with the title, he would pass it on to his eldest son, James, Viscount of Severn, upon his death. Then, if James has a son, it will pass down to him, and so on. So, almost immediately, the dukedom goes from being one of the most honorable titles in the monarchy to being a gifted title to the lowest-ranking members of the monarchy.
Charles Could Save The Title For Another Royal
Then, there is the alternative. If Charles were to hold onto the dukedom and save it for, say, Prince George, then the dukedom would remain in the direct line of succession. This seems all the more likely once you realize how few untaken dukedoms truly remain. It’s completely plausible that Charles would want to save the Dukedom of Edinburgh for George or maybe even another royal.
Edward seems to understand the likelihood of this scenario. “It was fine in theory, ages ago when it was sort of a pipe dream of my father’s,” Edward said of his suggested inheritance of his father’s title. “Of course, it will depend on whether or not the Prince of Wales, when he becomes king, whether he’ll do that.”
All of this is to say, we have no idea what Charles intends to do with his Duke of Edinburgh title. No matter the outcome, he’s sure to please some and disappoint others. However, it’s fair to say that it isn’t just about fairness of desire to honor his brother. At the end of the day, Charles has to do what’s best for the monarchy.