Who will be the next Duke of Edinburgh?
Prince Charles reportedly reluctant to hand over his father’s title to youngest sibling
Royal rifts have repeatedly made headlines in recent years, with the younger members of The Firm embroiled in a series of rows. But now tensions are also bubbling between Prince Charles and his brother Edward over their late father’s title, according to insiders.
For more than two decades, the title of Duke of Edinburgh has been expected to go to Edward upon Charles’ ascension to the throne. But while Edward is “the only of the Queen’s three sons not to hold a dukedom”, says The Sunday Times’ royal editor Roya Nikkhah, sources claim his big brother is “reluctant” to hand over the title when the time comes - and has considered using it himself.
The title automatically passed to Charles following Prince Philip’s death in April. When Charles becomes king, the title will then “merge with the Crown” and he will have the final say on “whether to bestow it on Edward, another member of his family, or to leave it in abeyance”, explains Nikkhah. But the first option is unlikely, according to a source “who knows Charles”.
The future king “is the duke of Edinburgh as it stands, and it is up to him what happens to the title. It will not go to Edward,” the insider told Nikkhah. Another source said: “Edinburgh won’t go to them [the Wessexes] as far as the prince is concerned.”
This alleged veto marks a major U-turn on a statement issued by Buckingham Palace when Edward married Sophie Rhys-Jones back in 1999. Philip and Charles had “agreed that Prince Edward should be given the dukedom of Edinburgh in due course”, the Palace said.
The decision was taken “in recognition” of Edward’s work with the Duke of Edinburgh's Award and the Edinburgh International Festival, among other commitments, The Telegraph reported following Philip’s death.
Historian Hugo Vickers wrote shortly after the decision was made that Edward’s planned dukedom was “especially pleasing to his father”.
In an interview with The Telegraph’s Camilla Tominey last month, Edward and Sophie said they were “slightly stunned” when Philip popped around two days after their engagement to ask if his youngest son would be willing to become the next duke of Edinburgh. “He literally came straight in and said: ‘Right. I’d like it very much if you would consider that’”, the Countess of Wessex told Tominey.
Philip was given the title by George VI shortly before his wedding to Queen Elizabeth, in 1947. He was the sixth person to bear the title, which began with Prince Frederick Louis, who lived from 1707 to 1751.
The Sunday Times’ Nikkhah reports that Charles considered becoming the seventh following his father’s death. The future king, who is known as the Duke of Rothesay in Scotland, “sought advice on whether to start using the Edinburgh title”, but “was advised to continue using the Rothesay title, which is senior to the Edinburgh dukedom”, she writes.
Buckingham Palace declined to comment on the claims, while a Clarence House spokesperson told The Sunday Times: “We do not comment on matters related to the accession. No final decisions have been made.”