King Charles Reportedly Has Someone Unexpected in Mind to Carry on Prince Philip’s Edinburgh Title

This royal will bypass Prince Edward for the role, who was long expected to be named Duke of Edinburgh upon his father’s death.

King Charles
(Image credit: Getty)

The title of the Duke (or Duchess, for that matter) of Edinburgh is one of the most senior titles in the royal family.

It was carried by Prince Philip—Queen Elizabeth’s husband of over 73 years—throughout the entirety of their long marriage and, since his death in April 2021, has reverted back to the Crown, currently unused by any member of the royal family.

Marie Claire reported this month that the prestigious title—which has long been promised to Prince Edward, the youngest child of the Queen and Philip—might not go to Edward after all, marking a huge shakeup in the royal family. We weren’t sure at the time of that reporting where exactly the title might go, but King Charles’ vision for it is becoming clearer…

And it’s Princess Charlotte he reportedly has in mind, eventually allowing her to be the Duchess of Edinburgh.

Just as Philip was Duke of Edinburgh, in addition to being, well, the Queen, Her late Majesty also technically by marriage was the Duchess of Edinburgh. The Sun reports that Charlotte is in line to be named the Duchess of Edinburgh “in honor of the Queen,” with the new King wanting his granddaughter to take it as a “fitting way to remember the Queen,” her beloved great-grandmother who passed away in September.

“Discussions are underway, but the favored outcome for the King is that this title ought to go to Princess Charlotte,” a source tells The Mail on Sunday. “It would be a fitting way to remember the Queen—who, of course, had the title Duchess of Edinburgh—and a way for His Majesty to honor the line of succession.”

Charlotte, even before she was born, was a history maker: she’s the first female member of the royal family whose place in the line of succession was not altered by the birth of her younger brother, Prince Louis. Before 2013, royal rules previously stated that girls were to be leapfrogged by their younger brothers in the line of succession. (Take, for example, Princess Anne, the Queen and Philip’s only daughter: upon her birth in 1950, she was third in line to the throne, behind her mother and older brother Charles. When her mother became Queen in 1952, Anne became second in line to the throne. But, after two more sons were born to the Queen in 1960 and 1964, Anne dropped down to fourth in line, simply because she was female.) Charlotte, born in 2015, was born fourth in line to the throne. When her own younger brother, Louis, was born in 2018, her position did not change. She is now third in line to the throne after the death of Her late Majesty.

Whew. Make sense?

“Charlotte’s position is historically significant because she is the first female member of the royal family whose place in the line of succession will not be surpassed by her younger brother,” a source says. “So it is constitutionally significant that Charlotte should be given such a corresponding title, because it is not beyond the realms of possibility that she will accede the throne if, for example, Prince George [her older brother and heir to the throne] does not have children.”

This is all great and good, but it does come with a bit of a tinge for Edward, who was promised the title as far back as 1999. On their wedding days, royal family members typically inherit not just a new spouse, but a new title, as well—think Prince William becoming Duke of Cambridge upon his marriage to Kate Middleton in 2011, or Prince Harry becoming Duke of Sussex when he married Meghan Markle in 2018. When Edward married Sophie Rhys-Jones in 1999, he was named Earl of Wessex and not a duke because Edward was expected, per Philip’s wishes, to take his father’s title, but, of course, only after Philip passed away. (A 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.”)

So, in this decision, Charles is simultaneously honoring Charlotte’s powerful role in history (love it) while also going against his parents’ wishes (a little stickier).

But Edward is certainly not being shut out entirely—Charles is working to have Edward, along with Anne, named as Counsellors of State, which means that either could stand in for him when he is 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.