THE King has handed his late father’s title the Duke of Edinburgh to his brother Prince Edward.

Charles conferred the title on the former Earl of Wessex in celebration of Edward’s 59th birthday on Friday.

Sophie, the former Countess of Wessex, is now the Duchess of Edinburgh, while their 15-year-old son James, Viscount Severn is the new Earl of Wessex.

The new Duke and Duchess will be in Edinburgh – their first outing with their new titles in the city which inspired their name – later on Friday at a reception to mark the first year of conflict in Ukraine. 

Buckingham Palace said in a statement: “His Majesty The King has been pleased to confer the Dukedom of Edinburgh upon the Prince Edward, on the occasion of HRH’s 59th birthday today.

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“The title will be held for HRH’s lifetime.

“The dukedom was last created for Prince Philip in 1947, upon his marriage to Princess Elizabeth, who held the title of Duchess of Edinburgh before acceding to the throne in 1952.

“The new Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh are proud to continue Prince Philip’s legacy of promoting opportunities for young people of all backgrounds to reach their full potential.”

SNP MP Tommy Sheppard said the appointment was emblematic of the monarchy's "obsession with feudal patronage". 

“The fact that these titles and positions are determined by accident of birth and forever the preserve of just one family is completely at odds with modern democratic values," he said.  

"In Scandinavian countries, monarchies have gone out of their way to slim down by stripping lesser royals of their hereditary titles. Not here. In the UK, there seems no end to their obsession with feudal patronage.”

Tristan Gray, the convener of Our Republic - a campaign group calling for an end to the monarchy in Scotland - told The National that the appointment of Prince Edward as Duke of Edinburgh was "an insult" to the residents of the capital city. 

He said: "I think it's an insult to the people who call Edinburgh home that their city can be passed around as a trinket to be given to people as a birthday present, just so Edward can put it up on his wall in his Surrey mansion, as if he has any connection to the city whatsoever. 

The National:

"The people of Edinburgh have legitimate democratic representation. They vote for it in their council elections, we had a by-election this week. They've got parliamentary representation, both in the Scottish Parliament and at Westminster

"Those people are elected by and accountable to the people of Edinburgh. They are the legitimate representatives of the people who call the city home. 

"And to have them undermined by the granting of this title - and the gifting of it as a birthday present - to distant aristocrats is an insult both to the people of Edinburgh themselves and to the very concept of the legitimate representation of those people." 

In 1987, Edward dropped out of the Royal Marines 12-month training course after just 4 months.

However, despite not completing basic training he is still permitted to wear full military uniform at ceremonial events, such as the Queen's funeral.