The Queen’s rare title she hadn’t used for decades and the significance behind it

The Queen's rare title likely held a special place in her heart and rumors have arisen over who could be the next royal to receive it...

Queen’s rare title revealed, seen here attending day 1 of the Royal Windsor Horse Show
(Image credit: Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

We reveal the Queen’s rare title she hadn’t used for decades and why it’s so meaningful as it’s suggested there could be another royal bestowed with it.  


Throughout her extraordinary life Queen Elizabeth held a number of titles and honors and the way she was referred to changed over the years. Just as Prince William of Wales became Duke of Cambridge and then Prince of Wales, the late monarch was born Princess Elizabeth of York was born before becoming Queen in 1952. Though in between the Queen’s rare title was part of her official styling - and it’s one that she hadn’t used for decades before she passed away. 

Many fans might not have known it but from the moment the Queen married Prince Philip in November 1947 until she ascended the throne, she’s understood to have been Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh.  

Princess Elizabeth, later Queen Elizabeth II with her husband Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh on their wedding day

(Image credit: Photo by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

This is a courtesy title used by wives of Dukes of Edinburgh and although it’s not clear if she technically still retained the title after becoming the Sovereign, she was known only as the Queen going forwards.

The Queen’s Duchess of Edinburgh title likely meant a great deal to her given its sweet connection to Prince Philip and how it might’ve reminded her of the early days of their marriage. She also might well have appreciated the history behind it and how rare it was as a royal title. 

Before being bestowed upon Prince Philip by King George VI in 1947, the Duke of Edinburgh title hadn’t been used since the 19th century. It was first created in 1736 and Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha was the first Duchess of Edinburgh. She was the wife of the heir to the throne and the mother of King George II, perhaps indicating how significant a royal would be to hold this title.

Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip just married walking down the aisle

(Image credit: Photo by Bettmann/Getty Images)

After Prince Philip’s death, the title passed to the eldest of his and the Queen’s children, Charles, perhaps making Camilla technically Duchess of Edinburgh during this period. It later merged with the Crown when he became King and it’s been alleged that his granddaughter Princess Charlotte could become Duchess of Edinburgh in her own right.

According to the Daily Mail (opens in new tab), a source claimed that, "discussions are underway, but the favored outcome for the King is that this title ought to go to Princess Charlotte.”

“It would be a fitting way to remember the Queen – who, of course, had the title Duchess of Edinburgh – and a way for His Majesty to honor the line of succession,” they added.

The Earl and Countess of Wessex and Princess Charlotte at different occasions

(Image credit: Future// Image 1:Photo by Stuart C. Wilson - Pool/Getty Images // Image 2: Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

If this does turn out to be the case it would certainly come as a surprise to some, with King Charles’ brother Prince Edward previously set to become Duke of Edinburgh, making his wife Sophie Wessex the next Duchess of Edinburgh. In recent weeks the Earl and Countess of Wessex’s engagement in Scotland sparked remarks from fans hoping to see them become Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh. 

Prince Edward is Chairman of the Trustees of the Duke of Edinburgh International Award and Trustee of the DofE UK, further linking him to his late father’s title. Whatever choice King Charles goes on to make - if any - the Queen’s rare title looks set to pass to a close family member and will be a wonderful tribute to her. 

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Senior Lifestyle Writer with six years of experience working in digital publishing. Her specialist areas including literature, the British Royal Family and knowing all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and every streaming service out there. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, you can find Emma cooking and watching yet more crime dramas.