Edward and Sophie are now considered the “safe hands” of the monarchy, especially following the difficulties faced by the royal family in recent years. They are the only cabinet members to publicly recognize the royal exit of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and were the first royals to speak to the press about Prince Philip’s death in April. However, when they first married in 1999, there were plenty of indications that they would not be major players in the monarchy, especially since Edward is the third son and youngest child. of the Queen.
In keeping with tradition, the Queen granted the couple a new title once they got married.
But, surprisingly, they were given the lesser title Earl and Countess of Wessex rather than Duchy, which is highly unusual for the son of a reigning monarch.
A secondary title has also been given to the couple, as is royal custom, which can then be used by the couple’s eldest son.
Still, the couple opted to take the title of Viscount Severn – another unusual choice, as royal commentators have explained.
Burke’s Peerage managing editor Harold Brooks-Baker said the title of Viscount Severn, derived from Sophie’s Welsh heritage, was “of little importance”.
Speaking to the BBC, he explained: “Viscount Severn was used by underage royals years ago.
“It’s a title from the 18th century.
“There is a story of being given a secondary title so that the eldest son could have it as a courtesy title.”
The title recognizes Sophie’s Welsh heritage as it is named after the River Severn in Wales, the UK’s longest river flowing through Shropshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire.
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“That’s why we made the decision not to use the HRH titles. They have them and may decide to use them from the age of 18, but this is very unlikely.
Prior to his comments, James was set to become an Earl when his father inherits the title of Duke of Edinburgh upon the Queen’s death.
This means that there is a chance that James will one day inherit the Duchy of Edinburgh himself, if he wishes.
Edward and Sophie’s decision to take the titles of Earl and Countess of Wessex stunned royal watchers at the time, especially since Wessex had not been a defined area for centuries.
The Earl of Wessex was last used in the 11th century, when King Harold II was killed by an arrow passing through his eye during the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
Historian David Starkey told the BBC: “The title itself is utter fiction.
“There’s nowhere called Wessex. The title hasn’t been used for a thousand years, is this the right way to celebrate the third millennium by going back to the first?
Mr Brooks-Baker said: “He is the first son of a monarch of this dynasty dating back to George I to not be made a duke.
“He was promised the title of Duke of Edinburgh but we don’t know if there will be a monarchy in the future.
“For her children not to be called prince and princess is also a huge departure.”