His Majesty the King has given a very special birthday present to his younger Prince Edward. In an announcement from Buckingham Palace the King has created his brother Duke of Edinburgh. However, in a break with tradition the announcement states that the awarding of the dukedom is 'for his lifetime' and it will not descend to his son, James.
The Dukedom of Edinburgh was last created on 19 Nov 1947 when it was bestowed upon Lt Philip Mountbatten, RN, on the eve of his wedding to the then Princess Elizabeth, and on Philip's death, 9 April, 2021, it passed to his eldest son, the Prince of Wales. On the accession of King Charles III, 8 September, 2022, all his previous honours 'merged in the crown' and became available for re-issue.
Prince Edward and his wife Sophie are now Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh. The new style and title of their children remains open to conjecture. In 1999, it was announced that any children of Edward and Sophie would not use their right to be HRH and prince/princess and instead by styled as the children of an Earl of the United Kingdom. Their first born, Louise, is therefore styled Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor. Their only son, James, has been styled as Viscount Severn, which was created with the Earldom of Wessex in June, 1999.
The children of the new Duke of Edinburgh are rightfully Princess Louise of Edinburgh and Prince James of Edinburgh. However, if they decide (and the choice is theirs) not to take up royal styles and titles then Lady Louise remains just that, but ranks as the daughter of a duke not an earl, and James can now be styled Earl of Wessex and Forfar by courtesy, and uniquely, upon his father's death succeed only to the Earldoms of Wessex and Forfar and the Viscountcy of Severn.
A dukedom for life is very rare in the annals of the peerage. On 12 December, 1936, at his Accession Council, King George VI announced that 'My first act on succeeding My Brother will be to confer on Him a Dukedom and He will henceforth be known as His Royal Highness The Duke of Windsor'. The Letters Patent, 8 March, 1937, formally created the title, with no subsidiary peerages, and with no specification regarding the remainder to the title.
In 1386 Robert de Vere, Earl of Oxford was created 'Duke of Ireland' for life only. His peerage was forfeit two years later when he fell foul of the King, Edward III.
In 1397 Margaret Plantagenet was created Duchess of Norfolk for life only, and this creation expired 24 March, 1400.
William Douglas, Earl of Selkirk, was created Duke of Hamilton in 1660. His wife was Duchess of Hamilton in her own right.
Louise Penancoët de Kerouaille, mistress of King Charles II, was on 19 Aug, 1673, created Duchess of Portsmouth for life. The title became extinct with her death in 1734.
Melusine von der Schulenburg, mistress of King George I, was created Duchess of Kendal for life, 19 March, 1719. She was also created Duchess of Munster, in Ireland, and for life, and held the peerages until her death in 1743.