Glaring error in King Charles’ latest move
No royal viewer was surprised when King Charles named his brother, Prince Edward, the new Duke of Edinburgh on Friday night.
He had long been promised the role by his late parents, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, the last king to hold the prestigious duchy.
Edward made no secret of his ambition to one day follow in his father’s footsteps and took over many of his responsibilities when he died in 2021 at the age of 99, including helping run the Duke of Edinburgh Awards.
Prince Edward is now the Duke of Edinburgh, taking over the title from his late father, Prince Philip. Photo / Getty Images
And it’s hardly surprising that Charles Edward’s wife Sophie, considered by some to be the late Queen’s closest confidante, wanted to be elevated to the senior royal role of Duchess of Edinburgh now that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are out of the picture.
But Edward’s promotion to a new role raised the question of who would replace him as the new Earl of Wessex.
And in answering that question, Charles may have made a mistake.
Edward’s place as Earl of Wessex is his 15-year-old son James, Viscount Severn.
His older sister, Lady Louise Windsor, will not be taking on a new role.
According to the ancient rules of primogeniture, courtesy titles are passed only to the eldest living son of the former holder – in this case, James.
Lady Louise, 19, studies English at St Andrews University and may not even have wanted to become the Countess of Wessex – the female equivalent of an earl.
But given the steps Charles and other senior members of the royal family have taken to modernize a sometimes archaic institution, Lady Louise’s snub feels like a step backwards.
After all, Charles and Queen Elizabeth II were both in favor of the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 – a historic change in the law that meant younger sons would no longer displace older daughters in the line of succession.
The law came into effect when the Princess of Wales was pregnant with her first child, who turned out to be a boy, Prince George.
Their second child, Princess Charlotte, is third in line to the throne behind their father William and George and ahead of their younger brother Prince Louis.
If the law had not been changed, she would have fallen behind Louis in the line of succession after his birth.
However, the Succession to the Crown Act only applies to royals born after October 28, 2011 and has not been backdated.
For this reason, Lady Louise is second in line to the throne after her brother James, despite efforts to equalize the position of men and women in the royal family.
It is the latest in a series of royal family title changes made by King Charles. Photo / AP
And it matters why James was handed the county and not his older sister.
Given that Charles has decided to postpone Edward’s appointment as the new Duke of Edinburgh – despite the promise the late Queen and Prince Philip made to Edward on his wedding anniversary in 1999 – it’s not out of the question that he himself could have decided to intervene and give Lady Louise the peerage in place of James.
The move to give the duchy to Edward is not what might have been expected from Charles, who has gone to great lengths to slim down the monarchy.
It is understood that the king was concerned about Edward being given such a prestigious title as he is now 13th in line to the throne and will only slide further down the line as the younger royals start their own families in the years to come .
Edward himself has indicated his preference for a more modern monarchy, with the new duke avoiding a duchy himself when he married Sophie, opting instead to become an earl.
Traditionally, the sons of monarchs are presented with a duchy upon marriage, and there have been suggestions he might be made Duke of Cambridge or Sussex, titles that later passed to Princes William and Harry.
The title of earl is usually bestowed on commoners who marry into the royal family.
There was even a suggestion that Edward had settled on the county of Wessex after watching Shakespeare in lovein which a dashing Colin Firth plays Lord Wessex.
Edward and Sophie also decided that their children would not receive the style of His or Her Royal Highness “but would have courtesy titles as sons or daughters of an earl”.
The decision “reflects Prince Edward and Miss Rhys-Jones’ clear personal desire to be appropriate to the likely future circumstances of their children,” a spokeswoman said ahead of the wedding in 1999.
The new Duke of Edinburgh and Sophie, Countess of Wessex. Photo / AP
James will not become Duke of Edinburgh when his father dies, with that title reverting to the Crown, but his title will change slightly from Earl of Wessex to Earl of Wessex and Forfar.
It is rumored that the title of Duke of Edinburgh will one day pass to one of William’s sons, likely Louis, later in life.
A statement from Buckingham Palace on Friday read: “His Majesty the King was delighted to bestow the Duchy of Edinburgh on the occasion of His Royal Highness’ 59th birthday to Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and Forfar.
“The title will be held by Prince Edward during His Royal Highness’ lifetime.
“The Duchy was last established for Prince Philip in 1947, following his marriage to Princess Elizabeth, who held the title of Duchess of Edinburgh before ascending the throne in 1952.
“The new Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh are proud to continue Prince Philip’s legacy of promoting opportunities for young people of all backgrounds to reach their full potential.”
Lady Louise Windsor has missed out on a title change despite her father and brother’s new roles. Photo / AP
The duchy has previously been created four times for members of the royal family.
The first Duke of Edinburgh was Prince Frederick, eldest son of King George II, who was granted the title in 1726.
King George III’s brother, William, then held the duchy from 1764.
Prince Alfred, son of Queen Victoria, received the duchy in 1866 and Prince Philip was created Duke of Edinburgh after his marriage to the late Queen Elizabeth II.
The news comes after Harry and Meghan announced their children Archie and Lilibet will be referred to as Prince and Princess.
A spokesman for the Sussexes said: “Child titles have been a birthright since her grandfather became monarch.
“This matter has been settled in accordance with Buckingham Palace for some time.”
Archie and Lilibet’s titles were finally changed on the royal website on Thursday night – some six months after the Queen’s death.
They were referred to as Master Archie Mountbatten-Windsor and Miss Lilibet Mountbatten-Windsor. They are now listed as Prince Archie of Sussex and Princess Lilibet of Sussex.
William and Kate’s titles – and those of their children – were quickly changed from Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to Prince and Princess of Wales after Charles took the throne.
Under the rules established by King George V in 1917, the children of a sovereign’s son are automatically prince and princess.
This meant that Archie and Lilibet were not to become prince and princess until their grandfather, Charles, became king.
But Meghan bizarrely claimed during the couple’s infamous interview with Oprah Winfrey that Archie – who was born during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II – was not given a title because of his race.
-Ollie Gilman, news.com.au