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Prince Philip title: Why was Prince Philip not the King?

Prince Philip has died aged 99, just a few months before the Duke of Edinburgh was due to turn 100. Buckingham Palace announced the devastating news that the Queen’s husband had died this morning in a social media post, saying: “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen has announced the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.” The Queen and her husband have been together for decades, but the Duke of Edinburgh was never given a title many thought he was owed. Express.co.uk explains the history behind the couple’s romance, and the reason why he was never known as the King.

Princess Elizabeth married Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, as he was then known, on November 20, 1947. The couple reached their platinum wedding anniversary in 2017 which marked 70 years since they tied the knot.

They became secretly engaged in 1946 and Elizabeth’s father, King George VI, ordered that any formal engagement was delayed until after she turned 21 in April 1947.

Being married to the monarch has given the Duke of Edinburgh numerous titles but he is missing one in particular – the title of King.

Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh, look at their wedding photographs while on honeymoon in Romsey, Hampshire, Nov. 1947.
 Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

In 1957, the Palace issued a statement which read: “The Queen has been pleased by Letters Patent under the Great Seal of the Realm bearing date February 22, 1957, to give and grant unto His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, KG, KT, GBE, the style and titular dignity of a Prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Whitehall.

“The Queen has been pleased to declare her will and pleasure that His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh shall henceforth be known as His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.”

When he married the Queen, the Prince was given three additional titles, which are Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich.

He was eventually made a Prince at his own request, supposedly because he did not want to feel inferior to his reigning wife.

But Philip is not a King Consort.

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Palace in December 1958.
GETTY IMAGES

The titles system is quite complicated, but the reason Prince Philip is not a king is because of parliamentary succession law, which factors in gender when designating titles.

For example, when Kate married William, she became the Duchess of Cambridge, taking on the female form of her husband’s title.

But when Jack Brooksbank married Princess Eugenie, he did not receive any royal title and remains Mr Jack Brooksbank despite his royal marriage.

Only women who marry into the Royal Family are automatically awarded a title that relates to their husband’s standing, such as a duchess to a duke, or a countess to an earl.

However, there is more behind why King Consorts don’t exist.

The title of Queen can either be used to describe the ruling monarch, or in the more ceremonial meaning, the wife of a monarch.

The title of King, however, can only ever be used to describe an acting monarch and does not hold a ceremonial meaning.

Prince Philip was born a prince as a member of both the Greek and Danish royal families but renounced his claim to the throne to marry then Princess Elizabeth.

His parents are Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, and Princess Alice of Battenberg.

His family left their native Greece after political turmoil broke out in the first half of the 20th century.

He adopted the family’s surname, Mountbatten, when he was naturalised as a British subject.

The couple had four children, Charles, Prince of Wales, Anne, Princess Royal, Andrew, Duke of York, and Edward, Earl of Wessex.

They have eight grandchildren, Prince William, Prince Harry, Peter Philips, Zara Philips, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie, Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn

By Aliss Higham

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