It has been well documented that the Queen’s youngest son and his wife, Prince Edward and Sophie Wessex, had enjoyed a close relationship with the late monarch. With the couple residing at Bagshot Park, just 11 miles south of Windsor, they were regular visitors and spent an increasing amount of time there in recent years.
With the couple taking up the titles of Earl and Countess of Wessex, speculations have previously arisen as to why they were not granted a dukedom, as his brothers and nephews are all Dukes. However, it has come to light that they were originally offered the Dukedom of Cambridge, a title Prince William and Kate Middleton were eventually granted when they married in 2011.
The unusual title Prince Edward was given was reportedly at his own request after he asked the Queen to be named after the character Lord Wessex, who appears in his favourite film Shakespeare in Love. The Earldom of Wessex has not been in use since the 11th century and the late monarch’s youngest son became the first in his position to be named an Earl since the Tudor era.
A royal insider told the Telegraph in 2010 that Edward specifically requested the title, explaining: “He liked the sound of it and asked the Queen if he could have that instead.” The unusual title was announced by Buckingham Palace ahead of their wedding on June 19, 1999, with many speculating that the title was a royal snub.
Prince Edward met Sophie Rhys-Jones during a charity event at the Queen’s Tennis Club in 1993 and the two announced their engagement six years later in January 1999. Over the years, they have become firm public favourites within the Royal Family and have taken on more royal duties in recent years.
Meanwhile, the dukedom of Cambridge was granted to Prince William and Kate when they married at Westminster Abbey in 2011. Since the death of Her Majesty the Queen on September 8, William has become heir to the throne, and the couple will now be known as the Prince and Princess of Wales.
Over the last week, they have made a number of public appearances, which included greeting well-wishers outside Sandringham House, where they viewed the hundreds of floral tributes left to the Queen. They also joined ranks with Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle to greet mourners outside Windsor Castle, with the new Prince of Wales also making a surprise appearance near Lambeth Bridge to meet people queuing to attend the Queen’s lying-in-state.
Prince Edward and Sophie Wessex have also been conducting official engagements and have greeted well-wishers outside Buckingham Palace, as well as taking part in the vigil at Westminster Hall. It remains unknown if the couple will be granted the dukedom of Edinburgh, as was previously requested by his father Prince Philip.
If the pair are given the title, Sophie will become The Duchess of Edinburgh, a courtesy which was held by the Queen from her wedding until her accession in 1952. The title was inherited by King Charles upon the death of the Queen’s husband, but it is now free to be granted again to another couple.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Sophie recalled the moment she and her husband was told by Prince Philip, who died in April 2021, that he wished them to take on the title. She said: “We sat there slightly stunned. He literally came straight in and said, ‘Right. I’d like it very much if you would consider that’.”
While it was the wish of both the Queen and her husband for their youngest son to inherit the title, it remains for King Charles to decide whether to grant it. In a previous interview with the BBC , Edward noted how the final decision on the title remains with Charles. He said: “It was fine in theory, ages ago when it was sort of a pipe dream of my father’s …. and 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.”
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