The Daily Telegraph

Queen’s ‘second daughter’ due to become Duchess of Edinburgh

Countess of Wessex will take on late monarch’s title if Prince Edward succeeds father as Duke


IT MAY be considered a final, poignant gesture to the daughter-in-law who called her “Mama”.

Queen Elizabeth II’S title of Duchess of Edinburgh will pass to the Countess of Wessex if, as expected, Prince Edward succeeds his father as Duke of Edinburgh.

Such a move would elevate the status of the Countess at a time when her role becomes more significan­t, as one of a handful of working royals in the new, slimmed-down monarchy.

The decision rests in the hands of the King, who has held the title since his father’s death.

Prince Philip had made his wishes clear: when the time came, his youngest son should be given the title. Prince Charles was said to have agreed and the deal was all but rubber-stamped.

But last year, following the Duke’s death, speculatio­n arose that Charles had experience­d a change of heart.

Experts believe it likely, though, that the title will pass to the Earl. To do so, a new dukedom of Edinburgh would have to be created by letters patent, but such a move is not unpreceden­ted.

The gesture would provide a fitting link between the late Queen and her daughter-in-law. Their relationsh­ip may have blossomed in private but few this week can have been left in any doubt about the close bond the two had.

The depth of the Countess’s grief was plain to see as she viewed flowers at Balmoral on Saturday and when she gazed from the car window during the procession to St Giles’ Cathedral on Monday.

Sophie, 57, had grown so close to the late Queen that she is said to have been treated like a “second daughter”. When she lost her own mother, Mary Rhysjones, to stomach cancer in 2005 at the age of 71, their relationsh­ip flourished as the Queen provided muchneeded support.

The Wessex family home, Bagshot Park, is close to Windsor Castle, enabling the whole clan to spend many hours with the Queen and Prince Philip.

Sophie and the late Queen are said to have shared a love of military history and enjoyed poring over documents in the Royal Archives at Windsor.

When her busy diary did not allow her to visit in person, she made sure to contact the Queen by telephone daily.

The Countess was the first member of the Royal family to speak publicly about the death of Prince Philip last April, a sign of the level of trust and affection with which she had come to be regarded.

When Covid restrictio­ns were eased, it was the Countess who often joined the monarch for walks around the Windsor estate.

The Oxford-born former public relations profession­al is one of a small group of senior royal women on whom the future of the monarchy now rests.

It is to Sophie that the Princess of Wales is said to turn for advice, having watched her balance royal duties with the care of her two children, Lady Louise, 18, and James, Viscount Severn, 14.

Rather than take up fashionabl­e causes, she has worked with victims of sexual violence, travelling to countries affected by conflict including South Sudan and Sierra Leone.

She works in other fields to promote women, having founded the Women’s Network Forum in 2014 which she chairs, and bringing together a crossindus­try group of senior figures to promote gender equality in the workplace.

By taking on the Duchess of Edinburgh title, Sophie will raise her profile further. The Queen now gone, she is rapidly becoming an integral part of the future Firm.

Such a move would elevate the status of the Countess at a time when her role becomes more significan­t

 ?? ?? Countess was close to the late Queen
Countess was close to the late Queen

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