Tuesday, 27 Jul 2021

Duke of Edinburgh title ‘will cease to be’ if Prince Charles doesn’t pass it on to Edward

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Prince Charles, 72, automatically inherited Prince Philip’s Duke of Edinburgh title upon his father’s death in April. However, the title is meant to pass on to Prince Edward, 57, when Charles becomes king.

Some royal insiders have recently suggested Charles could choose not to hand over the title when he takes the throne at which point it “it will cease to be”, an expert has claimed.

Titles held by the heir apparent merge with the crown when they take the throne.

And so it would be up to Charles to create Edward the Duke of Edinburgh in order to keep the peerage alive.

Constitutional expert Iain MacMarthanne told Express.co.uk: “When Prince Philip died earlier this year, Prince Charles, as his eldest male heir, inherited his dukedom together with its subsidiary titles, becoming the second Duke of Edinburgh.”

The academic added: “Assuming Prince Charles succeeds his mother the dukedom will merge with the crown, in essence, it will cease to be.”

Mr MacMarthanne explains there are historical examples of titles falling out of use and then being recreated at a later date.

He added: “This has happened before, primarily when a second son unexpectedly becomes heir to the throne, recent examples being George V and VI who had both been Duke of York, and in each case the York title merged with the crown before being recreated at a later date.”

As king, only Charles with how the power to decide whether or not to keep the title alive by handing it to Edward.

He added: “Once merged, it can be given a new creation by the incumbent monarch.”

At the time of Edward’s marriage to Sophie, Countess of Wessex in 1999, the Palace released a statement expressing Philip’s wish for Edward to inherit his title.

But the statement was more a declaration of intent than a binding contract, Mr MacMarthanne explained.

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He added: “In 1999, at the time of Prince Edward’s marriage it was stated that in due course he would inherit his father’s dukedom.

“By this, it was understood that once the Dukedom of Edinburgh merged with the crown under Prince Charles, that Charles, as king, would make a new creation of the title in favour of his younger brother.

“The statement of 1999 was however only one of intent, accordingly nothing binds a future King Charles to create Prince Edward the Duke of Edinburgh.”

Mr MacMarthanne emphasised that the future of the title lies in Charles’s hands: “It will therefore be at the new king’s discretion as to whether or not the Dukedom of Edinburgh is recreated in favour of Edward or anyone else for that matter.

“Beyond these publicly known facts, any discussion regarding the future use of the title is speculation, and until declared otherwise the status quo ultimately remains the order of the day.”

If Charles refuses to pass on the title then it could fall to Prince William to put it back in use once he is king.

Some believe the Duke of Cambridge could choose the title to his youngest son Prince Louis, three.

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