Sophie Wessex and Edward titles: Sophie could have become Duchess despite husband’s wish

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Sophie, Countess of Wessex, 55, is a much-valued member of the Royal Family and is said to be a favourite of Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen gifted Prince Edward, 56, the earldom of Wessex on his wedding to Sophie and so they became the Earl and Countess of Wessex.

While the Queen’s sons and grandsons traditionally become Duke’s when they marry, Edward’s earldom was something of an anomaly.

He is understood to have asked for the Wessex name over the Queen’s offer of the dukedom of Cambridge because of his admiration for the Wessex character in the 1998 film Shakespeare in Love.

An insider told the Telegraph in 2010: “He liked the sound of it and asked the Queen if he could have that instead.”

This means that Sophie and Edward posses a lower-ranking peerage than most other senior royals who are dukes and duchesses, however, a constitutional expert has claimed the Countess could have still become a Duchess if she so wished.

Reacting to calls Meghan Markle should lose her royal title given her recent dalliance in American politics, a constitutional expert explained that the titles used by royal wives are flexible by their own nature.

In reference to Meghan Markle, expert Iain MacMarthanne explained: “The duchess holds her styles and titles as a courtesy, derived from her husband.

“In effect, there is nothing to strip from her, she is at liberty not to use these titles and could, should she prefer, be known by her pre-marital name.

“The duchess is also at liberty to make a formal request of the Queen to be known by another style, two examples of which exist: HRH Princess Patricia of Connaught becoming Lady Patricia on marriage; and more pertinently the example of the present Duchess of Kent who rather than being known as HRH The Duchess of Kent, requested in 2002, that she be known as Katherine, Duchess of Kent.”

However, given that Sophie chose to keep her Countess title and did not request a new style from the Queen, she must be happy with it.

Prince Edward is due to inherit Prince Philip’s dukedom of Edinburgh upon his father’s death, so Edward and Sophie will one day be the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh.

Mr MacMarthanne said: “In respect of the dukedom of Edinburgh, it was felt to ensure it’s survival that it should pass to another of his sons, this being Prince Edward.”

Edward and Sophie have chosen to raise their two children Lady Louis Windsor, 16, and James, Viscount Severn, 12, without their royal styles.


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While the young royals are currently known by their parents’ peerages it will be up to them to chose to use their Prince and Princess titles when they reach 18.

Sophie touched on being a parent to teenage children in a recent interview.

Sophie told the Sunday Times Magazine: “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.”

Speaking about her work as patron of Childline and the NSPCC, the Countess recently revealed that neither of her children showed a great interest in social media.

Sophie told Good Housekeeping: “At the moment, my children aren’t into social media, however, it is here to stay, so it’s important for them to understand it and for us to equip them with the tools to navigate it successfully.

“Again, I think openness is one way families can support their teenagers.

“If children feel they can discuss issues and worries with their parents, without fear of them, or their friends, being judged, this may give opportunity to help them with what can be a complex and very pressured area.

“It’s so important that young people have adults in their lives who support and affirm them.”

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