Do I need a comma before the word "dies" in the following sentence?:

Prince Philip, husband of the Queen of the United Kingdom Elizabeth II, dies at the age of 99, two months before his 100th birthday.

As far as I understand, here we are dealing with an apposition. Wiki page on apposition says that in English, restrictive appositives are not set off by commas, and non-restrictive appositives are typically set off by commas. But later it says:

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So, it looks like "if there is any doubt", it is better not to use comma in my example. But I want to know for sure: if I use comma there, will I be wrong? On one hand, Queen Elizabeth II might have several husbands (that is, she might have been married more than once), so it is restrictive then and comma is not needed; but, on the other hand, we all know that she was married only once and her only husband was Prince Phillip, in which case it is non-restrictive and then comma is needed.

  • @Mari-LouA - What do you mean?
    – brilliant
    Apr 11, 2021 at 2:51
  • Misread, sorry I didn't see her name, only her title. But it is usually preferred that the name is attached to the title.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 11, 2021 at 3:18
  • Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and husband to Queen Elizabeth II, died at the age of 99, just two months before his 100th birthday.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 11, 2021 at 7:39
  • That is how I would write it, the part in bold, non-restrictive, can be eliminated without causing damage to the sense and integrity of the announcement.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 11, 2021 at 7:41
  • @Mari-LouA - Ah, I see. Thank you.
    – brilliant
    Apr 11, 2021 at 8:53

1 Answer 1


Prince Philip, husband of the Queen of the United Kingdom Elizabeth II, dies at the age of 99, two months before his 100th birthday.

A non-restrictive appositive is set off by bracketing commas, which come in pairs for an appositive appearing mid-sentence. If you are asking if we can omit just the one before 'dies', then no.

We include either a comma pair, if we are incorporating a non-restrictive appositive, or none, if we are incorporating a restrictive appositive.

For this case, since Queen Elizabeth II was married only once, to Prince Phillip, a non-restrictive appositive should be used.

Edit to Address Further Comments from OD

The key point is whether Prince Phillip is already clearly identified. If he is, we should use the bracketing comma pair.

I use fictitious characters to explain.

A woman was married several times. One of her husbands, H, was married just once. When we elaborate events related to H, only H's clear identification matters in determining whether to use a restrictive appositive.

  • Thank you. But what if Elizabeth II were married several times? Do you mean to say that in that case we would have not needed commas before "husband" and before "dies"?
    – brilliant
    Apr 11, 2021 at 2:20
  • 2
    I don't see that the number of husbands makes any difference. If the (hypothetical) couple are married at the time of the husband's death, it's "X, husband of Y, has died." If they are no longer married, the appositive is "former husband of Y", or "once the husband of Y". Apr 11, 2021 at 8:29

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