Who will inherit Prince Philip’s titles?

Katherine Chatfield
·Columnist
·3-min read

In the royal family, when someone dies, their titles are often inherited by other family members – often male heirs. Here, we take a look at who has inherited Prince Philip’s titles, and what it means.

Title: The Duke of Edinburgh

Inherited by: Prince Charles, then Prince Edward

As Prince Philip’s oldest son, Prince Charles immediately inherited the Duke of Edinburgh title when Philip died. However, the title will be in name only, and Charles will still be referred to as the Prince of Wales, rather than the Duke of Edinburgh. When the Queen dies and Charles becomes King, he will give the title to his brother, Prince Edward, who also holds the title of Count of Wessex.

Prince Edward
Prince Edward will eventually become the Duke of Edinburgh, after Prince Charles becomes King. Credit: Getty Images

This protocol was decided by the Palace in 1999, in recognition of Edward’s work as a trustee with the Duke of Edinburgh award and as chairman of The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award.

It’s believed that Edward was originally offered the Duke of Cambridge title, now held by Prince William, but turned it down because he wanted to wait for the Duke of Edinburgh name. When Edward inherits the title, his wife Sophie will also become the Duchess of Edinburgh.

Title: Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich

Inherited by: Prince Charles

Both these titles were automatically passed down to Prince Charles on his father’s death. It’s not clear whether Charles will keep these titles when he eventually takes the throne, or pass them on to someone else.

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Title: Spirit God

Inherited by: Prince Charles (probably)

The villagers of Tanna, a small township in Vanuatu, have worshipped Prince Philip as a ‘spirit god’ since the 1960s. It’s thought the belief that Prince Philip was a god took hold when islanders witnessed an influx of food and supplies during World War II. They linked this ‘divine offering’ to how people revered the Queen, and Prince Philip became connected to one of the island legends.

Since he died, the tribe of 700 people have held ritual wailing ceremonies and dance to pay tribute to him. Prince Charles visited the island in 2008, and was anointed high chief of the tribe. It’s now believed he will become the new ‘spirit’ of the island. 

“Philip was seen as the son of the tribe’s god and it would make sense that his son should inherit the honour,” a tribal source told The Sun.

Prince Charles visiting Vanuatu
Prince Charles was made "high chief" of the tribe when he visited Vanuatu, and is expected to become their 'spirit god'. Credit: Getty Images

Title: Captain-General of the Royal Marines

Inherited by: Princess Anne or Prince William

Prince Philip was the Captain-General of the Royal Marines, but when he retired in 2017, he passed this cherished title on to his grandson, Prince Harry, who was very proud of his ten-year career in the military. However, when Harry stepped back as a senior royal, he had to relinquish his titles.

"The honorary military appointments and Royal patronages held by The Duke and Duchess will therefore be returned to Her Majesty, before being redistributed among working members of The Royal Family,” said a statement by the Palace at the time. 

There were reports Prince Philip was particularly upset by this, as he’d purposefully wanted this coveted title to go to Harry. It’s yet to be bestowed on anyone else, although it’s likely to go to either Prince William or Princess Anne, who both have histories with the military.

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