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Sophie’s nod to Edinburgh’s Duke at an historic State Banquet

It’s easy to read something into anything but the choice of dress by the Countess of Wessex for the first State Banquet of the reign of King Charles III raised an interesting question. The Countess chose a gown in a shade of deep green – a hue that we learned, just a few short months ago, is known in royal circles as ‘Edinburgh green’.

The colour got its name from its association with the Duke of Edinburgh. Prince Philip used the deep green for his livery as well as for the uniform of his staff and even his cars. ‘Edinburgh green’ sparked widespread interest when many of the Prince’s nearest and dearest, including Queen Elizabeth II, wore it for a memorial service for him in March 2022.

Now, the Countess of Wessex has chosen it for the first State Banquet of a brand new reign. Of course, it might have been the closest match in her wardrobe to the diamond and aquamarine tiara that she was wearing to the glittering occasion.

i-Images/ Pool

It could also have been a nod to South Africa for the State Banquet was being held in honour of the country’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa, as part of his State Visit to the UK. Deep green features heavily on the flag of South Africa. Earlier, Queen Camilla and the Princess of Wales had worn blue and red respectively for the formal welcome to the UK for President Ramaphosa – both colours are also on the South African flag.

However, the choice of deep green by the Countess of Wessex comes in the midst of days of discussion about her possible future title. When the then Sophie Rhys-Jones married Prince Edward in 1999, they became Earl and Countess of Wessex but Buckingham Palace announced that, in time, it was expected they would be Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh.

Prince Philip asked them if they would take the titles. However, that could only happen with the passing of both the Prince and Queen Elizabeth II. The Dukedom of Edinburgh created in 1947 passed to his male heirs and so was inherited by Prince Philip’s eldest son, Charles, in April 2021. On the death of Her Late Majesty, and the accession of King Charles III, the title returned to the Crown. It is now up to His Majesty whether it will be recreated for Prince Edward.

There has never been any indication that King Charles won’t fulfil the wish of his father – when the announcement was made at the time of the wedding, the Palace was keen to underline that the then heir to the throne had been completely involved in the decision. However, reports at the weekend suggested the Dukedom might not go to Edward as The King focuses on ”slimming down” the Monarchy.

Regardless of her future title, the choice of Edinburgh green by the Countess of Wessex for such an historic event provides a respectful nod to her late father in law whose role in supporting the Monarchy at State Visits spanned seven decades.

About author

Lydia Starbuck is Jubilee and Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton who is a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. Her latest book, A History of British Royal Jubilees, is out now. Her new book, The Mysterious Death of Katherine Parr, will be published in March 2024. June is an award winning reporter, producer and editor. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.