The Duke of York, 61, has long been considered Her Majesty’s favourite son, with the pair remaining exceptionally close despite all his public mishaps.
But according to royal author Matthew Dennison, the monarch’s blue-eyed boy is in fact her youngest, the Earl of Wessex, 57, despite him seeming ‘a bit wet and irritating’.
He claimed the Queen and the late Prince Philip, who passed away aged 99 in April, always favoured their youngest child, which became apparent following an incident in 1987, when Edward was 22.
The Queen’s favourite child is Prince Edward, not Prince Andrew, a royal biographer has claimed (pictured together in June 2016)
Writing in his new biography The Queen, Dennison said: ‘Prince Edward, seemingly a bit wet and a tad irritating to the rest of us, was always his parents’ favourite.
‘That became apparent in 1987 when Edward, aged 22, opted out of the Royal Marines when he was just a third of the way through his 12-month basic training course.
‘To the surprise of some, Prince Philip [Captain-General of the Royal Marines] did not come down on his son like a ton of bricks.
‘He accepted that the Marines “wasn’t right for Edward” – and to this day Edward is grateful for that.’
A week after Prince Edward quit the Marines, he was photographed walking to church at Sandringham beside his father, which was deemed a public show of support from Philip and the Queen.
The Duke of York, 61, pictured at Prince Philip’s funeral, has long been considered Her Majesty’s favourite son, with the pair remaining exceptionally close despite all his public mishaps
The Duke of Edinburgh’s leniency contrasted starkly with his scorn for eldest son Prince Charles when he begged his mother to bring him home from Gordonstoun in Scotland, which he later branded ‘Colditz with kilts’.
The Queen and Prince Philip’s decision to send Charles to the Scottish boarding school he branded ‘Colditz with kilts’ – and keep him there – is widely known to have scarred the Prince of Wales and featured heavily in Season 2 of The Crown.
Royal expert Ingrid Seward has also previously claimed that Prince Edward is the monarch’s favourite child, highlighting Prince Philip’s surprising reaction to his son’s decision to quit the Royal Marines.
‘Given his action-man image and his well-earned reputation for irascibility, many people assumed he [Prince Philip] was outraged,’ she previously told The Daily Mail.
‘Stories soon spread that harsh words had been exchanged between father and son; even that Edward had been reduced to tears by his father’s anger.
‘The truth was quite the opposite: of all the Royal Family, Philip was in fact the most sympathetic. He understood his son’s decision, which he considered a brave one, and supported him fully.’
Prince Edward’s birth was the only one Prince Philip was present for, after insisting he be by the Queen’s bedside to hold her hand.
Edward – currently the only one of the Queen’s three sons not to possess a dukedom – was also his father’s choice to inherit the Duke of Edinburgh title.
Sophie Wessex recently opened up about the moment Prince Philip called at their home two days after she and Edward got engaged and asked his son if he would be willing to accept it.
‘We sat there slightly stunned,’ she told the Daily Telegraph. ‘He literally came straight in and said, “Right. I’d like it very much if you would consider that”.’
Admitting the title should ‘theoretically’ go to his older brother Prince Andrew, he added: ‘It’s a very bittersweet role to take on because the only way the title can come to me is after both my parents have actually passed away.
‘It has to go back to the Crown first. My father was very keen that the title should continue, but he didn’t quite move quickly enough with Andrew, so it was us who he eventually had the conversation with. It was a lovely idea; a lovely thought.’
The Earl of Wessex, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Countess of Wessex at the Duke of Edinburgh Award garden party, at Buckingham Palace. Sophie Wessex recently opened up about the moment Prince Philip called at their home two days after she and Edward got engaged and asked his son if he would be willing to accept the Duke of Edinburgh title
The initial decision to give Edward the title was taken in recognition of his work with, and commitment to, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award – of which he is a trustee, as well as chairman of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award.
However, Prince Charles, who as Philip’s eldest son inherited all his father’s titles, is reportedly not keen on the idea at all.
A source close to him was apparently authoritatively quoted as saying: ‘The Prince is the Duke of Edinburgh as it stands, and it is up to him what happens to the title. It will not go to Edward.’
Another said: ‘Edinburgh won’t go to them (the Wessexes) as far as the prince is concerned.’
The Duke of Edinburgh title will merge with the crown upon Charles’ eventual accession to the throne meaning that it can be regranted anew to Edward.
Philip was the sixth person – including two Dukes of Gloucester and Edinburgh – to bear the title the Duke of Edinburgh.
The first was George I’s grandson Prince Frederick, later the Prince of Wales, for whom the title was first created in the Peerage of Great Britain in 1726.
George VI gave Philip the titles of the Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich in the Peerage of the United Kingdom shortly before his marriage to Princess Elizabeth on November 20 1947.
Philip’s great-great-uncle, Prince Alfred Ernest Albert, fourth child and second son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, was also a Duke of Edinburgh in the Peerage of the United Kingdom.
A Clarence House spokesman told the Sunday Times: ‘We do not comment on matters related to the accession.’
A spokeswoman for Buckingham Palace also declined to comment when approached by MailOnline.