The Princess of Wales’ title that was ‘almost’ Duchess Sophie’s instead - but Prince Edward had other ideas!

The Princess of Wales' title is said to have very nearly been Duchess Sophie's before Prince Edward made an alternative request...

The Princess of Wales' title that 'almost' went to Duchess Sophie. Here are the Princess of Wales and Duchess of Edinburgh side-by-side at different occasions
(Image credit: Future// Image 1: Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage via Getty// Image 2: Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

The Princess of Wales’ title was reportedly “almost” Duchess Sophie’s instead, but Prince Edward had other ideas! 

The Princess of Wales might be best-known for this title, but it’s far from the only one she holds. In Scotland, where King Charles and Queen Camilla have started their summer break at the Castle of Mey, Kate is known as the Duchess of Rothesay. She’s also Baroness Carrickfergus and the Duchess of Cornwall, though there’s another iconic title that was reportedly nearly granted to someone else. The Princess of Wales’ title of Duchess of Cambridge is said to have almost been Duchess Sophie’s, but Prince Edward made a special request.

Ahead of Prince Edward and Sophie’s wedding in 1999, speculation arose over what title the youngest of the late Queen Elizabeth’s children might take on. And according to The Telegraph, the Duke of Cambridge title was supposedly a contender for Prince Edward.

Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh and Catherine, Princess of Wales attend the Order Of The Garter Service

(Image credit: Photo by Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage via Getty)

If he’d been made the Duke of Cambridge then Sophie would’ve become Duchess of Cambridge instead of Kate. It’s a title that Kate continues to hold to this day after becoming Duchess of Cambridge in 2011, whilst Sophie became Countess of Wessex after her own marriage. This was reportedly all down to Prince Edward who is said to have specifically requested the Earldom of Wessex from Queen Elizabeth rather than becoming Duke of Cambridge.

"Prince Edward was going to be the Duke of Cambridge, but he watched the film Shakespeare in Love, which had a character called the Earl of Wessex," a courtier alleged to The Telegraph in 2010. "He liked the sound of it and asked the Queen if he could have that instead."

Prince Edward and Sophie were the Earl and Countess of Wessex for 24 years, before King Charles bestowed another prestigious title upon his brother in March 2023.

Prince Edward and Sophie after their wedding ceremony

(Image credit: MIKE SIMMONDS/AFP via Getty Images)

Despite rumours the late Prince Philip’s title could be handed out elsewhere, His Majesty made Prince Edward the new Duke of Edinburgh. Sophie then became Duchess of Edinburgh and the couple’s son is now James, Earl of Wessex. 

So whilst the Princess of Wales’ title as Duchess of Cambridge never went to Sophie, the senior royal is now a royal Duchess too. The two royal women are understood to have a great relationship and the BBC’s former royal correspondent Jennie Bond recently expressed her belief to OK! that the duo are a “force to be reckoned with”.

“It is so much more evident now that Catherine and Sophie are key members of the list of working royals,” she said. “At [the] Buckingham Palace garden party, we saw them taking their place as senior members of the family.”

Catherine, Princess of Wales and Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh during the Order Of The Garter Service

(Image credit: Photo by Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage via Getty)

Jennie went on to reflect on how both Duchesses have similar experiences growing up outside the Royal Family and that they really “connect” with the people they meet.

"Both she and Catherine have a common touch…perhaps because they lived “ normal “ lives before marrying. They connect with the people they meet and look as if they really want to chat. They are the new female stars of the show - elegant, engaging and empathetic,” she declared.

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Royal Editor with eight years experience working in publishing. Her specialist areas include the British Royal Family, ranging from protocol to outfits. Alongside putting her royal knowledge to good use, Emma knows all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV and more. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, Emma enjoys cooking, long walks and watching yet more crime dramas!