Why wasn’t Prince Philip called king?

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Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, died on Friday at age 99. The prince married Queen Elizabeth II five years before she became queen – but when she was crowned, he wasn’t given the title of king. That’s because Prince Philip, who is actually a former prince of Denmark and Greece, was never in line to the British throne

Prince Philip married Queen Elizabeth II in 1947 and she became queen in 1952 after the death of her father, King George VI. She later gave her husband the title of prince.

This title wasn’t a slight to Prince Philip – he wasn’t supposed to be called king or prince. His title was Duke of Edinburgh until February 22, 1957 when the palace released a statement: “The Queen has been pleased by Letters Patent under the Great Seal of the Realm bearing date 22nd February, 1957, to give and grant unto His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, K.G., K.T., G.B.E., the style and titular dignity of a Prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Whitehall.”

So, the queen gave her husband a prince title when she took the crown – but why not king?

A woman who marries the king can be called a queen, but for men who marry the monarch, there are different rules. They can’t use the king title because it is only given to males who inherit the throne, according to BBC News.

Therefore, the couple’s eldest son, Charles, Prince of Wales, will receive the king title when he assumes the position. Their other children: Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward will keep these titles. 

Prince William, Prince Charles’ son and the queen’s grandson, is next in line for the king title, followed by his eldest son, Prince George. 

Giving Prince Philip his title isn’t the only unique naming decision made by the queen. In 1960, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip decided to distinguish themselves from past royals, who did not use last names. They started using a hyphenated surname: Mountbatten-Windsor, Mountbatten coming from Prince Phillip’s maternal grandparents.

According to BBC News, Prince Phillip asked for this last name change. “I am the only man in the country not allowed to give his name to his children,” he said when Queen Elizabeth II was persuaded to keep Windsor, BBC News reports. “I’m nothing but a bloody amoeba!”

So, the queen’s children and grandchildren can use Mountbatten-Windsor as a surname – when they need to. However, royals don’t really have much use for last names; they already have long enough titles, like Prince William, Duke of Cambridge.

Prince Philip might not have been king, but he was constantly by his wife’s side, and was the Queen’s consort, with a primary role of supporting her. He is the longest-serving consort of any British monarch, and he completed more than 22,000 solo engagements by the time he retired from his royal duties in 2017, according to BBC News. 



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