Prince Edward: son James becomes Earl of Wessex – daughter Louise is left empty-handed

Prince Edward
Son James becomes Earl of Wessex – daughter Louise gets nothing

Sophie and Edward, Duchess and Duke of Edinburgh, with their children, Lady Louise and James, Earl of Wessex

© Antony Jones/GC Images / Getty Images

Prince Edward takes his late father’s title just in time for his 59th birthday, making him the new Duke of Edinburgh. This will also reorder the titles of his descendants. But while Edward’s son James becomes the Earl of Wessex, his elder sister remains just Lady Louise.

On Friday morning, March 10, 2023, Buckingham Palace will announce big news: Prince Edward will be given a new title by King Charles, 74, on his 59th birthday today. From now on and until the end of his life, it is said, he is the Duke of Edinburgh and is thus following in the big footsteps of his late father Prince Philip, † 99. This is automatically accompanied by other changes in the titles of his family.

Prince Edward’s son James inherits his title

So Sophie of Wessex, 58, becomes the Duchess of Edinburgh. The couple’s son James, previously Viscount Severn, 15, is now the new Earl of Wessex. His big sister, on the other hand, gets nothing. 19-year-old Lady Louise Windsor retains her current title. There is a good reason for this, which goes back to a centuries-old rule.

Until 2011, when the leaders of 16 British Commonwealth countries voted to change the old tradition, daughters could only become clay heirs if there were no surviving sons. This 300-year-old system is based on the rules of primogeniture, which gives preference to the first-born male heirs of a king or queen.

Lady Louise exempt from new rule

With the change, daughters and sons have been equally included in the succession since 2011. This puts Prince Williams, 40, daughter of Princess Charlotte, 7, in the line of succession ahead of her younger brother Prince Louis, 4. Until a few years ago, as the third child, he would have overtaken the princess in the line of succession because of his gender.

However, this new rule only considers children born after 2011. That’s why Prince Edward’s youngest child, James, who was born in 2007, precedes his older sister, Louise, who was born in 2003.

However, the title of Duke of Edinburgh, which was once hereditary, will not pass to James if his father dies. As was the case after Prince Philip’s death, the Duchy of Edinburgh then reverts to the Crown and is reassigned by the reigning monarch.

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