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The EdinburghsThe Kents

The Dukes of Kent and Gloucester at the forefront of The King’s mind when making decision about the new Duke of Edinburgh

Almost 24 years ago in 1999, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip and the then Prince Charles agreed that one day, Prince Edward and Sophie would become the Duke & Duchess of Edinburgh.

The announcement was made on the couple’s wedding day in June 1999, with Prince Edward one day destined to become Duke of Edinburgh.

On March 10th 2023, the 59th anniversary of Edward’s birth, The King officially conferred the dukedom upon his younger brother.

However, rather unusually, when Prince Edward dies, the dukedom will once again become extinct, reverting to the Crown.

This is despite Edward having an heir in his son, James, now the Earl of Wessex.

When his father dies, the Earl will not become Duke of Edinburgh, and will likely hold the Earldom of Wessex for the rest of his life.

Why might this be in what looks to be a change to many centuries of conventions?

Part of the reason might be The King’s approach to streamlining The Royal Family, and not wanting to hand out any further Dukedoms.

Something His Majesty will acutely be aware of is the situation with the Dukedoms of Kent and Gloucester.

In just a generations time, neither of the Dukedoms will be held by a senior member of The Royal Family.

The current Duke of Kent has an heir – the Earl of St Andrews. Likewise, his grandson, Lord Downpatrick is second-in-line to become Duke of Kent.

Therefore, the future of that particular Dukedom is secure, with the title unlikely to return to the Crown.

The same is true for the Dukedom of Gloucester, with Alexander Windsor next in line to become Duke of Gloucester. Prince Richard’s grandson, Xan, is second-in-line.

This means that both the Dukes of Kent and Dukes of Gloucester of the future will be extended members of The Royal Family, and will not hold senior roles.

King Charles was likely to have considered this information when stipulating that the Dukedom of Edinburgh would only last for Prince Edward’s lifetime.

It is unlikely that the 15-year-old Earl of Wessex will ever be a working member of The Royal Family, and should he one day have an heir, the Dukedom would become even further distant.

This does not fit in with The King’s vision of monarchy, with His Majesty keen to streamline The Royal Family.

Research by Lydia Starbuck