Prince Edward title: The unusual way Wessex earldom differs from titles of royal relatives

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Prince Edward and his wife Sophie were given new royal titles on their wedding day back in 1999. As the son of a monarch, Prince Edward was certainly eligible for the highest rank in the British peerage system – a dukedom. However, Edward accepted an Earldom from the Queen instead.

Since their wedding day, Edward and Sophie have held the titles of Earl and Countess of Wessex.

Edward’s elder brother Prince Andrew became the Duke of York on his wedding day, and it was assumed Edward would also get a Dukedom when he married too.

But according to reports, it was actually Edward himself who decided on the lower-ranking title of Earl.

A courtier told the Sunday Telegraph: “Prince Edward was going to be the Duke of Cambridge, but he watched the film Shakespeare in Love, which had a character called the Earl of Wessex.

“He liked the sound of it and asked the Queen if he could have that instead.”

While it is unusual that Prince Edward isn’t a Duke, another aspect of his royal title stands him apart from the rest of the Royal Family.

Edward could not be created Duke of Wessex because such a dukedom does not exist.

But oddly, Edward’s earldom of Wessex covers a region which technically no longer exists.

The title of Earl of Wessex has only been created twice before Edward got the title in 1999, both times in the 11th Century.

The region of Wessex spanned across the south and south-west of England, and it was one of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms.

According to Britannica, the land of Wessex approximated to the modern counties of Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire and Somerset initially.

But for hundreds of years Wessex has ceased to exist completely.

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As Edward is an Earl of an area technically no longer in existence, his royal title is greatly different from other members of the Royal Family.

For example, Prince Harry is the Duke of Sussex, while Prince William is the Duke of Cambridge.

But as well as making unusual choices about their own titles, Sophie and Edward also made a rare decision about the titles of their royal children, Louise and James.

Sophie told the Sunday Times she thought it was “highly unlikely” her children will use their His and Her Royal Highness titles in the future.

She said: “We try to bring them up with the understanding they are very likely to have to work for a living.

“Hence we made the decision not to use HRH titles.

“They have them and can decide to use them from 18, but I think it’s highly unlikely.”

Rather than be known as Prince and Princess, as some of their cousins are known, Louise and James are styled as the children of an Earl.

Subsequently their official titles are Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn.

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