PRINCE EDWARD and his wife Sophie made a shock decision when they got married that stands them out from other royals.
Instead of taking on a royal duke and duchess title as is usual for the child of the monarch, the pair broke with tradition and opted to become the Earl and Countess of Wessex. Originally, Edward was set up to be the Duke of Cambridge but he declined the title, and it is now held by Prince William, second-in-line to the throne. He reportedly asked for the Wessex title, because of a character in the film Shakespeare in Love called Lord Wessex.
A royal insider told The Telegraph in 2010: “He liked the sound of it and asked the Queen if he could have that instead.”
The Queen agreed and gave him the title Earl of Wessex – he could not be the Duke of Wessex as there is no such dukedom or even a region known as Wessex in the modern UK.
Wessex was one of the kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England, whose leaders eventually took over the entire country.
The area of Wessex is prominent in the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.
However, it was reported by The Sunday Times in 2015 that Prince Edward will likely become the Duke of Edinburgh after Prince Philip dies.
The title of Duke of Edinburgh technically goes back to the crown when Philip dies and would then go to the next-in-line – Prince Charles – but the Queen reportedly plans to redirect it to Edward.
In recent years, Edward has been taking an increasingly active role with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme.
A royal source told The Times: “The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is very much Prince Edward’s thing.
“This is a big part of what he does now because he will be the next Duke of Edinburgh.”
The dukedom of Edinburgh was given to Philip by King George VI shortly before the wedding between Philip and then-Princess Elizabeth in 1947.
Prince Philip is the president and patron of nearly 800 organisations and it is expected that Edward will take many of these on when he inherits the title.
Both Edward and Sophie gave us their business to become full time royals in 2002.
Royal biographer Hugo Vickers said: “Prince Edward has never been personally ambitious.
“He had taken on the role with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award to support his father, so it’s a wonderful thing that he could take on his title when the time comes.”
Sophie and Edward’s children also have titles that differentiate them from other royal grandchildren.
Despite being entitled to Royal Highness titles, instead of being styled as a prince or princess, they have been styled as children of an Earl.
Their daughter is known as Lady Louise Windsor and their son James, Viscount Severn – one of Edward’s subsidiary titles.
In contrast, Charles is known as the Prince of Wales and has two royal dukedoms – the Duke of Cornwall and the Duke of Rothesay in Scotland.
His wife Camilla is known as the Duchess of Cornwall, his secondary title, out of respect for the late Princess Diana of Wales.
Princess Anne is known as the Princess Royal, a title given to her in 1987.
However, she and her former husband Mark Phillips decided not to give their children Peter and Zara royal titles.
Prince Andrew is known as the Duke of York, his former wife Sarah Ferguson is the Duchess of York, and their children are known as Princess Beatrice of York and Princess Eugenie of York.