Prince William and Kate Middleton were officially granted the titles Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on their wedding day in 2011. William received the dukedom as a gift from his grandmother the Queen and is one of the six current royal dukedoms in the UK.
The title is hereditary among male agnatic descendants of the titleholder by primogeniture, and has been conferred upon members of the British Royal Family several times.
The wife of the titleholder is usually called the Duchess of Cambridge as Kate currently is.
The Duke of Cambridge title goes back to the 17th century and superseded an earlier title of Earl of Cambridge.
The title became extinct several times, before being revived after a hiatus of over a hundred years in 2011, when it was bestowed upon Prince William on his wedding day.
But the title was actually offered to another member of the Royal Family before it was granted to the second in line to the throne – his uncle Prince Edward.
Edward, who is the youngest son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, was reportedly offered the dukedom in 1999, when he married Sophie Rhys-Jones.
Instead, Edward was created Earl of Wessex, a rank lower than Duke, while his wife became Sophie, Countess of Wessex.
Younger sons of the monarch have customarily been given dukedoms at the time of their marriage, and experts had suggested the former royal dukedom of Cambridge as the most likely to be granted to Prince Edward.
However, in a twist, Buckingham Palace announced Prince Edward would eventually be given the title Duke of Edinburgh, which is currently held by his father.
This is unlikely to happen by direct inheritance, as Prince Edward is the youngest of Prince Philip’s three sons.
Rather, the title is expected to be newly created for Prince Edward after it eventually reverts to the crown with the death of the current Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales’ succession as King.
In the meantime, in keeping with the tradition of a monarch’s son receiving a title upon marriage, Edward became the first British Prince in centuries to be specifically created an earl, rather than a duke.
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According to the Sunday Telegraph he was drawn to the historic title of Earl of Wessex after watching the 1998 film Shakespeare in Love, in which a character with the title Lord Wessex is played by Colin Firth.
He couldn’t be made the Duke of Wessex as there is no such dukedom in modern Britain.
Edward and Sophie’s children Louise and James also have titles out of the ordinary.
As the son of the current monarch, Edward could have chosen to make his daughter a Princess and his son a Prince, however, he and Sophie opted for titles further down the rank of British peerages.
The Earl and Countess of Wessex’s daughter is simple known as Lady Louise Windsor, while their son is known as James, Viscount Severn.
The couple quickly decided to give their children “courtesy” titles as sons or daughters of an Earl, rather than the style Prince or Princess.
According to the BBC “it is thought this decision was made to avoid some of the burdens of royal titles.”
What are the British royal titles?
Queen or King – As sovereign, the King or Queen outranks everyone
Queen Consort – The Queen Consort is the wife of the King
Apart from the monarch and their spouse, the titles are:
Duke or DuchessMarquess or MarchionessEarl or CountessViscount or ViscountessBaron or Baroness
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