Duchess Sophie was almost given Kates title – but Prince Edward stepped in

The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh have seen a huge and deserving rise in their popularity in recent years.

The couple first met during a charity event at the Queen's Tennis Club in London in 1993 and announced their engagement six years later on January 6, 1999.

Ahead of their wedding, the palace announced that the pair would be styled as The Earl and Countess of Wessex.

The news came as a surprise to the public as it was expected that the Queen's youngest son would be given a traditional Dukedom like his two elder brothers.

In becoming an Earl, rather than a Duke, Prince Edward was the first royal in his position since Tudor times.

But the unusual title wasn't a snub from the late Queen at all, and it was actually his request to be titled the Earl of Wessex. And the reason for his choice was unexpected.

It later came to light that the monarch had offered Edward the Dukedom of Cambridge (the title which the Prince and Princess of Wales were granted when they married in 2011), but he refused it for a very surprising reason.

The Earldom of Wessex had not been in use since the 11th century, however Edward reportedly asked the Queen to be named after a character called Lord Wessex in his favourite film, Shakespeare in Love.

A royal insider told the Telegraph in 2010 why Edward chose that name, explaining: “He liked the sound of it and asked the Queen if he could have that instead."

However, earlier this year in March to coincide with Prince Edward's 59th birthday, the couple saw their titles change once more when they became the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh.

The title bares an extra significance for Sophie as the last Duchess of Edinburgh was the late Queen – with whom she shared an especially close bond – who was styled that way from her wedding in 1947 until her accession in 1952.

The Duchess previously recalled the moment she and Prince Edward were told Prince Philip would like them to take on the Dukedom of Edinburgh in an interview with the Telegraph.

She said: “We sat there slightly stunned. He literally came straight in and said, ‘Right. I’d like it very much if you would consider that’.”

When the couple's titles changed, their son James was also affected. Previously styled as Viscount Severn, it was revealed that James would be known as the Earl of Wessex for his whole life – but that he would not inherit the Dukedom of Edinburgh.

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