Thursday, April 26, 2007

Question: Why isn't the Duke of Edinburgh Prince Consort?

I recently received this question:

Can you blog us anything about "Prince Consort?" I take it this will be a big honor for Prince Philip since no one has held this title since Prince Albert...why has it taken the Queen this many years to bestow it?

Thanks very much for your question!

If you pay attention to recent royal news reports, you might have read that Queen Elizabeth II might/may/will make her husband Prince Consort on/around their 60th wedding anniversary on November 20th, 2007.

Should she do so, the Duke of Edinburgh, would become only the second male consort to hold the title, which carries with it no benefits or extra duties, but probably looks nice on business cards. Currently, there is only one Prince Consort, and that is the husband of Queen Margarethe of Denmark.

Such titles aren't always bestowed right away. Prince Henrik, Queen Margarethe's husband, became Prince Consort 33 years after her accession to the throne. Queen Victoria conferred the title of Prince Consort upon her husband Prince Albert in 1857, 17 years after their marriage. Queen Victoria's consort, Prince Albert, was the first male consort in the British royal family to hold the title.

The Duke of Edinburgh will be 86 in June of this year. In November he will have been married to the Queen for 60 years. He has been her consort since February 1952. In September 1952, the Queen granted her husband precedence next to herself and on February 22nd, 1957 she created him a Prince of the United Kingdom and his title then became HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

According to the official site:

Prince Philip chose not to take on the title of 'Prince Consort', and to continue to be known instead as 'The Duke of Edinburgh'. He still offers the support and undertakes the duties expected of a consort and was the first person to pay homage to The Queen following her Coronation, by kneeling at her feet and then kissing her cheek.

The Prince has served Her Majesty without any such title and, whether she choses to make him Prince Consort after all of this time, really makes no difference. Title or none, his duty to her is unquestioned.

© Marilyn Braun 2007


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the information. Do you think he will accept the title this time, if offered? Would that change the style we use when referring to him?

Marilyn Braun said...

I don't see the Duke of Edinburgh as someone who stands on ceremony, so the title might mean very little to him. Remember, when he married Princess Elizabeth (now the Queen) in 1947, he gave up his Greek titles and became plain Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten. I don't think that's easy for someone to do if they stand on ceremony.

But, maybe if that's the only gift his wife will give him on their anniversary, it would be kind of rude to turn it down now wouldn't it? ;)

Should he accept the title, I don't believe it would change the way he's addressed. It would still be 'Your royal highness' and then 'Sir' thereafter.