Prince William Wasn't Supposed To Be the Duke of Cambridge. Who Was Originally Offered the Title?
It is a tradition for the British royal household to assign the role of Duke to any Prince once he gets married. This tradition was honored in 2011 when Prince Willam and Kate Middleton got married. They were both given the title of Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. However, what the fans of the royal couple might not know is that the title of the Duke of Cambridge was not initially meant for the Prince. He only got this title because it had been initially rejected by another prince of the British royal blood. Shocking, right? We’re here to let you in on all the details about the mystery surrounding the title of Duke of Cambridge.
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A DUKE
To be a Duke is to be in charge of one of the six royal dukedoms of the United Kingdom. It is an exclusive hereditary title of nobility in the royal family of Britain. The title of the Duke of Cambridge dates back to the 17th century. Charles Stuart was the first to be granted this title as the first son of the Duke of York in 1660. His role was, however, not fully established because he lived for only six months. Although the title supersedes that of the Earl of Cambridge, it became extinct for well over a hundred years. It was later resuscitated in the year 2011 upon the marriage of William and Kate.
THE ALMOST DUKE OF CAMBRIDGE
At first, the title of Duke of Cambridge was offered to Prince Edward, the last son of the Queen and Prince Philip. This was in the year 1999 when he got married to Sophie Ryes- Jones, years before it was offered to William. Interestingly, Edward refused this offer of Duke. He instead requested another title. Apparently, the title of Earl sounded much better to him than that of Duke, so Prince Edward asked his mother for the role of Earl of Wessex.
This act alone suggested a romantic side to the Prince because his request was after the character of Lord Wessex in the play ‘Shakespeare in love.’ How royally romantic! His request was eventually granted, and Edward became the Earl of Wessex. Sophie, on the other hand, also became a Countess in the place of a Duchess.
WHAT IS SO SPECIAL ABOUT HIS MARRIAGE?
Edward met his soulmate at a tennis event in the Queen's Tennis Club in London in 1993. Sophie Rhys-Jones was a svelte blonde girl who worked as a PR executive. PEOPLE stated that they began dating shortly after their first encounter, with Sophie spending holidays and weekends with Edward at Balmoral and Sandringham.
After a five-year relationship, the Prince popped the question with a gorgeous engagement ring featuring a two-carat diamond. In June 1999, the lovebirds tied the knot in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. Compared to more contemporary royal weddings, theirs was pretty low-key, without military involvement.
Surprisingly, Edward is the only child from the Queen's offspring who is still married to his first spouse. This shows how strong their relationship is. The couple welcomed their firstborn in 2003, a daughter called Lady Louise Windsor. Four years later, James, Viscount Severn, arrived. The kids are 12th and 13th respectively in the line of succession.
PRINCE EDWARD’S TITLE WILL CHANGE
The thing about change is that it is always constant. While one might not know what the responsibilities of being a Duke entail as opposed to being an Earl, it might be safe to say that a Duke has a lot more to deal with than an Earl. Either way, there is still a high probability that Prince Edward becomes a Duke in the future. We have been made to believe that his desire for his current title came as a result of his great love for the play, ‘Shakespeare in love.’ However, this does not explain why he outrightly refused the title of Duke.
Nevertheless, it is essential to note that this change is dependent on who the Ruler of the royal house is by that time. It is also reported that if Prince Philip dies when his son Charles becomes the King, then Charles will inherit the title of Duke of Edinburgh. If this happens, he can then decide to pass it on to his brother Edward - that is, if he feels like it. However, if the Queen should remain in power, she can assign the title to Prince Edward straightaway. After all, the Queen has the final say over the royal house. The question now is, would Edward refuse this title of Duke again the second time?
WHO WILL THE TITLE DUKE OF CAMBRIDGE PASS ON TO?
Since it has been established that the title of the dukedom of one that is usually inherited, one might wonder which of William’s sons the title of Duke of Cambridge will fall to one day. The prince has two sons and one daughter. His eldest son is Prince George, who was born on July 22, 2013. It has been speculated that George might be the future Duke of Cambridge.
As of now, the little prince already has the title Cambridge attached to his name. However, this is not leaving out the fact that his two other siblings bear this title as well. So will Prince George of Cambridge become the next Duke? The likelihood of this happening is quite high, and so is that of him having another dukedom title. If George grows and happens to get married before his father takes on the throne, he will be given another title.
This might result in his younger brother, Prince Louis, becoming the Duke of Cambridge instead. Upon William becoming King, little Prince George by then would be expected to take on some other roles and titles. These might include the Duke of Cornwall, as well as the Prince of Wales. More importantly, being third in line to the throne, he is also expected to be King one day. You should bear in mind that the last person to take the title Duke of Cambridge was Prince George, who was the son of the first official Duke of Cambridge, Prince Aldophus Frederick, and the grandson of George III.S
SO HOW DO THE BRITISH ROYALS GET THEIR TITLES?
Social class and power are pronounced factors in British society. However, you might not be a royal and still not be regarded as a commoner. An individual can be included in the royal household without being necessarily born a royal. At the helm of affairs of the royal house is the King or Queen.
Either of them can be in charge. Currently, if it's the Queen that runs the house, her husband automatically has no title. If he held any title at all before getting married, he has to renounce it while his wife, who is the Queen, can bestow on him a new title. This was seen in the case of Prince Philip, who renounced his title as Prince of Greece before marrying Queen Elizabeth.
If the King is the sovereign ruler, his wife then becomes the Queen Consort. The bottom line is that whoever is the sovereign ruler holds the power to bestow an individual with a title. He or she also has the exclusivity to this right. Aside from the topnotch sovereign royals, all other titles are regarded as peerage titles in the old British political and landowning order. The people in this class are referred to as peers, and this is where, the titles of Duke, Earl, Viscount, and Baron come in.
In the hierarchy, the Duke or Duchess title comes first. The Duke rules a Dukedom or Dutchy, i.e. a vast expanse of land. The title is usually given to born royals, i.e. Princes; their spouses then come to take the title through marriage, as seen in the case of the Cambridges and Sussexes. The peerage of the Marquess comes next. Traditionally, he or she (Marchioness) oversees a British border territory. The title is also Duke-like in nobility. The Marquess has the responsibility of defending the border he mans from invaders. Usually, this peerage is inherited by firstborn sons, and there are about 34 in all.
Below the Marquess comes the Earl, Viscount, and the Baron in that order hierarchically. This peerage is usually in charge of anything Judiciary, Feuds, and Taxes. Below this is the British House of Lords who are the parliament but had their power weakened in 1999. Commoners have the chance to have a taste of royal life without having to go through the stress of royal marriage. Non-royals can have titles in the rank of ‘Life peer’. However, there are many requirements of prominence for this rank. The prime minister nominates while the sovereign ruler appoints. The position is, unfortunately, not hereditary.
As of now, both Prince William and Kate are already involved in major royal activities preparing them for their future roles as King and Queen. This certainly means many responsibilities on both parties and their children as well. Nevertheless, they both seem ready for the shoes they are stepping into already.
It doesn’t matter if the title of Duke of Cambridge was initially meant for Prince William or not; one thing we all can agree on is that the title has become one with their little family! Who do you think will receive the title of Duke of Cambridge next? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section.