King Charles Might Go Against His Parents’ Wishes and Bypass Younger Brother Prince Edward for Duke of Edinburgh Title

Edward has been expected to inherit the prestigious former title of his father, Prince Philip, for over 23 years.

Prince Edward
(Image credit: Getty)

It has long been expected that Prince Edward—the fourth and youngest of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s children—would one day inherit his father’s Duke of Edinburgh title when Philip ultimately passed away. Philip died in April 2021, and the title reverted back to the Crown, with the expectation still that Edward would one day inherit it. According to multiple outlets, King Charles’ plans for a slimmed down monarchy may discard his parents’ pledge to give Edward the title entirely, a huge shakeup in the royal family.

Edward is styled as the Earl of Wessex, the only of the Queen’s sons to not be a duke. (Charles, while commonly known as the Prince of Wales, was also the Duke of Cornwall; Prince Andrew was given the title Duke of York.) When Edward married Sophie Rhys-Jones—now Sophie, Countess of Wessex—in 1999, the Queen and Philip said that Edward would inherit the Duke of Edinburgh title “in due course,” but it seems Charles might not follow through with that plan after all. (The statement from Buckingham Palace 23 years ago reads “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 King wants to slim down the monarchy, as is well known,” a Palace source tells The Daily Mail, per The Mirror. “That means it wouldn’t make sense to make the Earl the Duke of Edinburgh. It’s a hereditary title which would then be passed on to the Earl and Countess of Wessex’s son, James, Viscount Severn. Essentially, this was accepted by the Earl when he agreed that his children would not be a prince or princess.” (Indeed, Edward and Sophie’s daughter Louise goes by Lady Louise, and James is Viscount Severn.)

“It was fine in theory, ages ago when it was sort of a pipe dream of my father’s,” Edward previously told the BBC. “Of course, it will depend on whether or not the Prince of Wales, when he becomes king, whether he’ll do that, so we’ll wait and see. So yes, it will be quite a challenge taking that on.”

The Sun reports that Charles intends to keep the Duke of Edinburgh title to himself—now the Crown—but will not use it.

And, while this could be perceived as a snub to his youngest brother, Charles isn’t edging Edward out entirely. He is currently seeking to add both Edward and his sister Princess Anne to his roster of Counsellors of State, which allows them to stand in for the king when he is either overseas or unwell.

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.