Why is Prince Philip not a King?
But just why is Prince Philip not a King?
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich, is married (and has been for 73 years) to Queen Elizabeth II.
Originally a prince in his own right, Prince Philip is the son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark and Princess Alice of Battenberg. On his birth, he was given the title of Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark. However, he relinquished these royal titles to marry Princess Elizabeth (as she then was).
However, on his marriage to Princess Elizabeth, Prince Philip did not automatically become a Prince because a husband is not eligible to take the male form of his wife’s title in the British royal tradition. It wasn’t until 1957, 10 years after they were married, that Queen Elizabeth bestowed the title of Prince on her husband by issuing letters patent.
According to British royal tradition, spouses of Kings and Queens are referred to as Consorts. The wife of a King is given the title, Queen Consort while the husband of a Queen is not King Consort but, Prince Consort. But just why is this so?
It boils down to this – hierarchy is very important in the British Royal Family (and British society more generally). The King is the highest position in the British monarchy and can only be occupied by someone capable of holding that position in his own right, by birth (for example, Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince George). The Queen is the second highest position in the British monarchy. It cannot be that in cases where the hereditary monarch is female, the Queen’s husband, who himself has no claim to the thrown, should hold a higher position than his wife, the monarch. Being of the right blood line is more important than gender when it comes to who is head of the British royal family.
Prince Philip is the fifth Prince Consort to the British throne. Prince Philip II of Spain was Prince Consort to Mary I, William III husband of Mary II, Prince George of Denmark, the husband of Queen Anne and, Prince Albert was Queen Victoria’s beloved Prince Consort.
After Prince Philip’s death, we aren’t likely to see another Prince Consort for some time. The next three people line for the throne are all male.