Why was Prince Philip not a king?

Prince Philip died just months before his 100th birthday in June

Chelsea Ritschel
New York
Friday 16 April 2021 11:02
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Prince Philip's death announced at Buckingham Palace

As the world mourns the death of the Queen’s husband at the age of 99, attention is being shone on the life and duties of the Duke of Edinburgh.

The royal family announced the royal’s passing in a statement Friday, which read: “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces 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. Further announcements will be made in due course. The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.”

The Queen and Prince Philip married in 1947, at which point the royal dropped his title as Prince of Greece and Denmark to take on the title of Duke of Edinburgh. 

However, when Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne following her father’s death in 1952, her husband did not gain the title King of England, but rather of Prince Consort.,

In 1957, the Queen officially made her husband a prince, with the palace releasing a statement at the time that read: “The Queen has been pleased by Letters Patent under the Great Seal of the Realm bearing date 22nd February, 1957, to give and grant unto His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, K.G., K.T., G.B.E., 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.”

The Duke of Edinburgh was not granted the title of king because of a rule that states the husband of a ruling queen is called prince consort, just as wives of kings are typically referred to as queen consort.

Under the royal family’s longstanding rule, the title of king is only given to a royal who inherits the throne and can reign, which is the case for the Queen and Prince Philip’s eldest son Prince Charles when he ascends to the throne.

When Prince Charles does take the throne, his wife Camilla Parker-Bowles may be granted the title of queen consort, although Clarence House previously announced that “it is intended that Mrs Parker Bowles should use the title HRH The Princess Consort when The Prince of Wales accedes to The Throne”.

Following Prince Philip’s death, which comes after he was recently hospitalised while fighting an infection, there has been an outpouring of condolences from around the world as people pay their respects to the royal family.

The duke died just months before his 100th birthday on 10 June.

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