Receiving a lesser title was entirely Prince Edward's decision.
"He liked the sound of it and asked the Queen if he could have that instead," a royal insider told The Telegraph in 2010.
The Queen obliged and offered him the title Earl of Wessex, as there no dukedom or region known as Wessex in the modern UK. The kingdom of Wessex existed in Anglo-Saxon England prior to the country's unification in the 10th century.
It's also widely believed Prince Edward is poised to become the next Duke of Edinburgh when his father, Prince Philip passes.
In fact, the 55-year-old has taken more of an active role within the Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme in recent years, according to Express. If it proves to be true, Prince Edward will take patronage over nearly 800 organisations.
"The Duke of Edinburgh's Award is very much Prince Edward’s thing," a royal source told The Times in 2015.
For now, it's assumed the title of Duke of Edinburgh will return to the crown when Prince Philip dies and then go to the next-in-line (Prince Charles).
However, the monarch could reissue the title to Prince Andrew - meaning the Queen when her husband passes away or the Prince of Wales, should he succeed Queen Elizabeth II to the throne.