When Elizabeth II acceded to the throne in 1952, she immediately became Queen.
But for her husband Philip, himself of Greek and Danish royal background, a title was more complicated.
Philip and Elizabeth married in 1947, when her father was on the throne, and he became His Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh. He was also given the titles Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich, though these are rarely used.
Before their marriage, he had been Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, but renounced his former royal titles completely to marry Elizabeth.
When she acceded, he was not given any new titles. At her coronation a year later, he was the first to swear an oath of allegiance, in which he said:
“I, Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
do become your liege man of life and limb,
and of earthly worship;
and faith and truth I will bear unto you,
to live and die, against all manner of folks.
So help me God.”
Five years after she’d been on the throne, the Queen bestowed the additional title of Prince onto Philip. Unlike some who went before him, he was not titled as Prince Consort, though his job was as a consort to the Queen.
The duke was the first person to swear an oath to the Queen in 1953, at her coronation. (Getty Images)Prince Philip and the Queen after hosting President Michael D Higgins in Windsor in 2014. He carried on royal work for another three years. (Reuters)
In the London Gazette, it was announced: “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.”
It added: “The Queen has been pleased to declare her will and pleasure that His ‘Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh shall henceforth be known as His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.”
Why isn’t Prince Philip a king?
The Act of Succession, which secured the throne for Protestants and ensured no Catholic or anyone married to a Catholic could accede, is usually given as the reason for the Philip remaining a prince, not a king.
The act places gender as part of the line of succession, which until recently meant that those women born in the line would find themselves overtaken by younger brothers and their offspring, as has happened to Princess Anne.
Prince Philip, here in 2020 carrying out a rare engagement, has never been king because the mirrored title doesn’t exist. (Getty Images)
It also means titles bear different significance. While wives of Kings become Queens, more typically fully known as Queen Consorts, men married to Queens are not King Consorts.
While Queen can mean ‘wife of a monarch’, King never means ‘husband of a monarch’ and so it implies ruler, which Philip is not.
In 1960, the Queen issued a decree which allowed her descendants, if they were not styled His or Her Royal Highness, or with a title of Prince or Princess, to take the surname of Mountbatten-Windsor.
Most recently this means Prince Harry’s son is called Archie Mountbatten-Windsor.
In 2013, before the Duchess of Cambridge had her first child, various changes were made to the Act of Settlement which brought it up to date.