Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

The Funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh

The funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh takes place in London tomorrow. Because of the COVID-19 restrictions, there will only be thirty guests at the event, and (by my calculations) twenty of them are on the line of succession. Let’s have a look at the list.

  1. HM The Queen. She’s obviously not on the line of succession – having popped off the top of it in 1952.
  2. Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales. Charles is number 1 on the list and is the Duke’s eldest son and, therefore, the person who inherits the title Duke of Edinburgh.
  3. Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. The wife of the Prince of Wales. She’s not on the line of succession.
  4. Princess Anne, The Princess Royal. The Duke’s second child and only daughter. She’s surprisingly far down the line of succession, at number 15.
  5. Timothy Laurence. The husband of the Princess Royal. Not on the line of succession.
  6. Prince Andrew, Duke of York. The Duke’s third child and second son. He’s currently number 8 on the line of succession.
  7. Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex. The Duke’s youngest child and third son. He’s currently number 12 on the line of succession. Edward is expected to be granted a new Dukedom of Edinburgh once the title merges with the Crown (i.e. when Prince Charles becomes king).
  8. Sophie, Countess of Wessex. The wife of the Earl of Wessex. She’s not on the line of succession.
  9. Prince William, Duke of Cambridge. The eldest son of the Prince of Wales. He’s number 2 on the line of succession.
  10. Kate, Duchess of Cambridge. The wife of the Duke of Cambridge. She’s not on the line of succession.
  11. Prince Henry (Harry), Duke of Sussex. The second (and youngest) son of the Prince of Wales. He’s number 6 on the line of succession.
  12. Peter Phillips. Eldest child of the Princess Royal and the Duke’s eldest grandchild. He’s number 16 on the line of succession.
  13. Zara Tindall. Second and youngest child of the Princess Royal. She’s number 19 on the line of succession.
  14. Mike Tindall. Husband of Zara Tindall. He’s not on the line of succession.
  15. Princess Beatrice of York. Eldest daughter of the Duke of York. She’s number 9 on the line of succession.
  16. Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi. Husband of Princess Beatrice. He’s not on the line of succession.
  17. Princess Eugenie of York. Second daughter of the Duke of York. She’s number 10 on the line of succession.
  18. Jack Brooksbank. Husband of Princess Eugenie. He’s not on the line of succession.
  19. Lady Louise Windsor. Eldest child of the Earl of Wessex. She’s number 14 on the line of succession.
  20. James, Viscount Severn. Second child of the Earl of Wessex. He’s number 13 on the line of succession. He’s higher than his older sister because they were born before the abolition of male-preference primogeniture.
  21. Prince Edward, Duke of Kent. The Queen’s first cousin. He’s number 39 on the line of succession.
  22. Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester. The Queen’s first cousin. He’s number 29 on the line of succession.
  23. Princess Alexandra, Lady Ogilvy. The Queen’s first cousin. She’s between 52 and 55 on the line of succession (it’s unclear because we’re not sure about the status of some of her nephews and nieces who may have converted to Catholicism – I should write a blog post about that).
  24. Bernhard, Hereditary Prince of Baden. The Duke’s great nephew. He’ll be on the line of succession, but somewhere down in the 600s.
  25. Prince Donatus, Landgreve of Hesse. A distant cousin of the Duke. As a descendant of Queen Victoria, he’ll be on the line of succession, but who knows where!
  26. Philipp, Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg. The Duke’s great nephew. He’ll be on the line of succession but somewhere down in the 600s.
  27. The Earl of Snowdon. The Queen’s nephew. He’s number 23 on the line of succession.
  28. Penelope Knatchbull, Countess Mountbatten of Burma. First cousin by marriage of the Duke. She’s not on the list.
  29. Lady Sarah Chatto. Niece of the Queen. She’s number 26 on the line of succession.
  30. Daniel Chatto. Husband of Lady Sarah Chatto. He’s not on the line of succession.

Some interesting compromises have been made. None of the Duke’s great-grandchildren is in attendance. At 13, Viscount Severn will be the youngest mourner and the Queen will be the eldest (followed, I think, by the Duke of Kent). There’s no room for divorced or separated spouses. And the absence of the Duchess of Sussex (who couldn’t fly due to her pregnancy) freed up a space for someone else.

What interesting things have you noticed in the list?

[Update: I’ve fixed a typo and a factual error in the text – as pointed out in the comments below.]

Prince Philip and Prince Edward

The Next Duke of Edinburgh

At some point in the next ten years, we will have a new Duke of Edinburgh. But who will it be? People seem to be confused on the matter. Let’s try to clear it up.

The confusion seems to stem from an announcement made by Buckingham Palace on the morning of Prince Edward’s wedding to Sophie Rhys-Jones on 19 June 1999. Unlike his brothers, Edward was not given a royal Dukedom on his wedding day, but it was announced that the Queen intended for him to be made the Duke of Edinburgh “in due course”. It’s that “in due course” that confuses people. What does it mean?

Some people think that Edward will be made Duke of Edinburgh immediately after his father dies. But that’s very unlikely to happen as it goes against everything we know about how titles are inherited. The Duke of Edinburgh is a perfectly normal peerage. It will follow the normal rules of inheritance. That is to say, when the current Duke dies, his title will be inherited by his eldest son – who is, of course, Prince Charles.

Of course, Charles already has plenty of titles. He’s the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cornwall, the Duke of Rothesay and a few more besides. If he inherits his father’s dukedom, that title will just be added to the pile and you’ll never hear it spoken of as many of his other titles are more important.

Sometime later, the Queen will die and Charles will become King. At that point, all of his titles merge with the crown and, effectively, cease to exist (the Dukedoms of Cornwall and Rothesay are special – they are automatically held by the eldest son of the monarch, so they will immediately be passed to Prince William). When that happens, the Dukedom of Edinburgh will be available to be created again (for the fourth time) and bestowed on Prince Edward. This is presumably what the Queen was hinting at in her announcement on Edward’s wedding day.

So if Prince Philip dies before the Queen, the next Duke of Edinburgh will be Prince Charles and only after the Queen has also died can he bestow it on his youngest brother. Of course, it might not happen like that. It’s possible that the Queen could die before Prince Philip. In that case, Prince Charles becomes King and Philip retains his dukedom. Then when Philip eventually dies, Charles inherits the title, but as he’s King the title merges with the crown and is available to be created again. It doesn’t matter in what order it happens, but both the Queen and Prince Philip need to die before Prince Edward can become the Duke of Edinburgh.

It might be instructive to quickly run through all the Royal Dukedoms to see what might happen to them over the next few years.

Duke of Cornwall / Duke of Rothsay

As stated above, these are dukedoms with special rules. They are both automatically held by the eldest son of the monarch. When Prince Charles becomes King, they will be passed on to Prince William.

Duke of Edinburgh

As explained above, this will be inherited by Prince Charles and will merge with the crown when he becomes King. At the point, the current Queen has indicated that she would like a new creation of this dukedom to be bestowed on Prince Edward.

Duke of Cambridge

The future of this dukedom depends on the order in which people die. When Prince Charles is King, Prince William will hold on to his dukedom as well as becoming Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay and, presumably, Prince of Wales. As the Cambridge title is less important than any of those, you won’t see it being used. If, as you’d expect in the normal course, Prince Charles dies before Prince William, William will become King and the dukedom will merge with the crown and cease to exist. If, however, Prince William dies without becoming King, the dukedom will be inherited by Prince George.

Duke of York

As dukedoms are only ever inherited by sons, and Prince Andrew only has daughters, it looks like this dukedom will cease to exist on Prince Andrew’s death.

Duke of Gloucester

This far down the line of succession, we are unlikely to be troubled by complication caused by titleholders becoming monarchs. Therefore, we can be certain that Prince Richard will be followed as Duke of Gloucester by his eldest son, Alexander Windsor, Earl of Ulster.

Duke of Kent

Prince Edward (a different one) will be succeeded as Duke of Kent by his son, George Windsor, Earl of St Andrews.

It’s worth noting that, as the great-grandsons of King George V, neither Alexander Windsor nor his second cousin George Windsor is a prince. That is a honour that stops at the grandsons of a monarch.