The Royal Family are known all over the world by their long, official titles – whether that is The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge or The Countess of Wessex. The current royals are descendants from an unbroken sovereign chain which stretches back nearly 1,000 years and includes some of the most famous historical figures, from William the Conqueror to Henry VIII.
The order of succession to the throne is something that is set in stone and cannot be altered by personal preference. While the British royals understand this, it would seem that one foreign country had not grasped this as they made a rather strange request of The Earl of Wessex in 1994.
Huge socio-political change in the country at the time prompted them to ask The Queen’s youngest son, Prince Edward, to serve as their head of state. The unusual offer was called “charming” but had to be sensibly declined by the palace.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1994, several new countries were created in Eastern Europe, one of which was Estonia.
During Estonia’s first elections, the Independent Royalist Party wished for the country to be a monarchy. They won eight seats in Parliament and went about trying to find someone to take on the top job.
While Prince Edward could have found himself coming to a throne before his elder brother, it is hoped that he will be given a new title once Prince Charles succeeds his mother. Ahead of their wedding in 1999, the palace announced that Prince Edward and Sophie would be styled as The Earl and Countess of Wessex.
The Sunday Telegraph revealed at the time that the leader of the party had written to the Royal Family to ask if Prince Edward would become their king as they thought he was “perfect” for the role.
It was further said that the country would be honoured if he would accept as the party admired him “enormously”. Following the unusual request, Buckingham Palace are reputed to have written back, saying that it was “a charming idea but a rather unlikely one”.
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.”
The Queen agreed to give Edward the Wessex title, but told him that he couldn’t be a Duke as there was no such Dukedom and the region of Wessex doesn’t exist anymore in the modern UK. When the news came of the surprising title, it was revealed that the Royal Family intended for Edward to be created Duke of Edinburgh upon both the death of his father and accession of elder brother.