Why Did Prince Philip Never Become King?

Getty Images Prince Philip.

Prince Philip has died at the age of 99. Buckingham Palace confirmed that Philip died “peacefully” on Friday, April 9, 2021.

“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,” read a tweet from Buckingham Palace’s official Twitter account.

Philip married Queen Elizabeth on November 20, 1947. However, he did not become king of England. Instead, Philip became prince consort.

“Prince consort” is defined by Oxford Languages as “the husband of a reigning female sovereign who is himself a prince.” In regard to the British monarchy, the prince consort does not rule, nor does he ever become king.

Had Queen Elizabeth died before Prince Philip, their son, Prince Charles would have become king. Charles is next in line to the throne.

Here’s what you need to know:

Britain’s Naming Conventions for Royal Spouses Differ Based on Gender

Getty ImagesQueen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

According to Reader’s Digest, when it comes to royal succession, “the law looks only to blood, and not to gender.” For most of its history, the successor to the British throne was the monarch’s first-born son, though in 2013 the law was changed to allow the first-born heir to inherit the throne, regardless of sex, according to History. Queen Elizabeth II became the heir presumptive in 1936 after her uncle abdicated the throne, making her father — who had no sons — king.

However, the conventions for the titles of royal spouses vary depending on position and gender. According to Town & Country, “In the British nobility, a woman takes her husband’s title, unless she holds a higher one. But given the monarchy’s patriarchal roots, it doesn’t work the same way if a woman is the one with the rank.” The outlet explains that’s because “Kings always reign, whereas Queen can be a symbolic title.”

While Philip had been prince of Greece and Denmark, he renounced these titles to join the British royal family and become Duke of Edinburgh when he married Elizabeth in 1947. But in 1957, Queen Elizabeth granted him the title of prince through a letters patent, as Town & Country explains.

Philip was the “longest-serving royal consort in British history,” according to BBC News.

How Did Prince Philip Become the Duke of Edinburgh?

Getty ImagesPrince Philip.

At the time of their wedding on November 20, 1947, Elizabeth’s father King George VI issued letters patents to style him “His Royal Highness” and “to confer the dignity of a Duke of the United Kingdom” to Philip with the title of Baron Greenwich … Earl of Merioneth, and Duke of Edinburgh,” The London Gazette wrote on November 21 of that year.

Ten years later, Queen Elizabeth gave Prince Philip an additional title, making him a Prince of the United Kingdom. On February 22, 1957, he was officially named His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, according to Town & Country.

Royal titles are bestowed upon members of the royal family by the head of the monarchy. For example, when Prince William and Kate Middleton got married, Queen Elizabeth made them the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. When William’s father, Prince Charles, becomes king, William and Kate will take over as the Prince and Princess of Wales.

The Princess of Wales title was held by William’s mother, Princess Diana, but not by Camilla Parker Bowles. It was her choice to forgo the title, out of respect to Diana, according to Town & Country. Because of this decision, Camilla will not be given the title of queen consort. Instead, she will become princess consort, according to Cornwall Live.

William and Kate will become the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall at that time.

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