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Prince Edward
HRH The Earl of Wessex
HRH The Prince Edward

Prince Edward1
Heir apparent James, Viscount Severn
Spouse Sophie, Countess of Wessex
Issue
Princess Louise of Wessex
Prince James of Wessex
Full name
Edward Antony Richard Louis
House House of Windsor
House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg
Father Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Mother Elizabeth II
The Royal Family of the
United Kingdom
and the
other Commonwealth realms
Badge of the House of Windsor.svg

HM The Queen
HRH The Duke of Edinburgh


v · d · e

Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, KG, GCVO, CD, ADC(P) (Edward Antony Richard Louis; born 10 March 1964)[1] is the youngest of four children and the third son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

At the time of his birth, he was third in line to succeed his mother; as of 2017, he is ninth in line.

Early life and education Edit

Prince Edward was born on 10 March 1964, at Buckingham Palace,[2] as the third son and fourth and youngest child of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. He was baptised on 2 May 1964 in the private chapel at Windsor Castle[3] by the then-Dean of Windsor, Robin Woods.[b]

As with his older siblings, a governess was appointed to look after Edward and was responsible for his early education at Buckingham Palace. At the age of seven, Edward was then sent to Gibbs School before attending, in September 1972, Heatherdown School, near Ascot in Berkshire. He then, as his father and elder brothers had done before him, moved to Gordonstoun, in northern Scotland, and was appointed Head Boy in his last term. Edward obtained a C-grade and two D-grades at A-level,[5] and after leaving school spent a gap year abroad, working as a house tutor and junior master for two terms in September 1982 at the Wanganui Collegiate School in New Zealand.

Upon his return to Britain, Edward matriculated at Jesus College, Cambridge, where he read history. His admission to Cambridge caused some controversy at the time, since his A-level grades were far below the standard normally required, "straight As", for Oxbridge entrance.[6] Edward graduated in 1986 as BA (lower second class honours)[7] and proceeded Master of Arts (Cantab) in 1991, making him the fourth member of the royal family to obtain a university degree.

Post-universityEdit Edit

Royal MarinesEdit Edit

Prince Edward made two very public attempts to pursue a career. On leaving university, Edward joined the Royal Marines as an officer cadet, having been sponsored by the Marines with £12,000 towards his tuition at Cambridge University on condition of future service.[8] However, in January 1987 he dropped out of the gruelling commando course after completing just one third of the 12-month training. Media reported, at the time, that the move prompted a berating from Prince Philip who "reduced his son to prolonged tears."[9]

Theatre and televisionEdit Edit

After leaving the Marines, Edward opted for a career in entertainment. He commissioned the 1986 musical Cricket from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, for his mother's 60th birthday celebration, which led to a job offer at Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Theatre Company, where he worked as a production assistant on musicals such as The Phantom of the OperaStarlight Express, and Cats. His duties reportedly involved making tea for the artistic staff.[10] While there he met actress Ruthie Henshall, whom he dated for three years.

Edward's first foray into television production was the programme The Grand Knockout Tournament, informally known as It's a Royal Knockout, on 15 June 1987, in which teams sponsored by him, Princess Anne and the Duke and Duchess of Yorkcompeted for charity. The media attacked the programme; it was later reported that the Queen was not in favour of the event and that her courtiers had all advised against it.[11]

Ardent ProductionsEdit Edit

In 1993, Edward formed the television production company Ardent Productions.[12] Ardent was involved in the production of a number of documentaries and dramas,[13] but Edward was accused in the media of using his royal connections for financial gain,[14] and the company was referred to by some industry insiders as "a sad joke" due to a perceived lack of professionalism in its operations. The Guardian opined that "to watch Ardent's few dozen hours of broadcast output is to enter a strange kingdom where every man in Britain still wears a tie, where pieces to camera are done in cricket jumpers, where people clasp their hands behind their backs like guardsmen. Commercial breaks are filled with army recruiting advertisements".[15]

Ardent's productions were somewhat better received in the United States[16] and a documentary Edward made about his great-uncle, Edward VIII (the late Duke of Windsor) in 1996,[13] sold well worldwide.[17] Nonetheless, the company reported losses every year it operated save one when Edward did not draw a salary.[12] An Ardent two-man film crew was alleged to have invaded the privacy of his nephew, Prince William in September 2001, when he was studying at the University of St Andrews, against industry guidelines regarding the privacy of members of the royal family.[18] The Prince of Wales was reportedly angered by the incident.[19] In March 2002, Edward announced that he would step down as production director and joint managing director of Ardent[12] to concentrate on his public duties and to support the Queen during her Golden Jubilee year. Ardent Productions was voluntarily dissolved in June 2009, with assets reduced to just £40.[20] Edward's original backers in the venture are said to "have lost every penny".[21]

MarriageEdit Edit

Main article: Wedding of Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, and Sophie Rhys-Jones

The Earl and Countess of Wessex at Trooping the Colour in June 2013

Edward met Sophie Rhys-Jones, then a public relations executive with her own firm, in 1994.[22] Their engagement was announced on 6 January 1999. Edward proposed to Sophie with an Asprey and Garrard engagement ring worth an estimated £105,000: a two-carat oval diamond flanked by two heart-shaped gemstones set in 18-carat white gold.[23]

Their wedding took place on 19 June 1999 in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. This was a departure from the weddings of Edward's older siblings, which were large, formal events at Westminster Abbey or St Paul's Cathedral. On his wedding day, Prince Edward was created Earl of Wessex with the subsidiary title of Viscount Severn,[24] breaking from a tradition whereby sons of the sovereign were created royal dukes. It was however revealed that the Queen wishes that he be elevated from the rank of Earl to Duke of Edinburgh after that dukedom, held by Prince Philip since 1947, reverts to the Crown[1] (namely, after "both the death of the current Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales' succession as King"[25]), and for his children to be styled as the children of an Earl, rather than as prince/ss and royal highness.[26][c]

He and his wife have two children: Lady Louise Windsor, born 8 November 2003, and James, Viscount Severn, born 17 December 2007, and they reside at Bagshot Park in Surrey.

ActivitiesEdit Edit

The Earl of Wessex at Yate, Gloucestershire, December 2011

The Earl of Wessex has assumed many duties from his father, the Duke of Edinburgh, who has been reducing some commitments due to his age. Prince Edward succeeded Prince Philip as president of the Commonwealth Games Federation (vice-patron since 2006) and opened the 1990 Commonwealth Games in New Zealand and the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Malaysia. He has also taken over the duke's role in the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme, attending Gold Award ceremonies around the world.[27]

In February and March 2012, The Earl and Countess visited the Caribbean for the Diamond Jubilee. The itinerary consisted of Saint Lucia; Barbados, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; Grenada; Trinidad and Tobago; Montserrat; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Anguilla; Antigua and Barbuda. Highlights included Independence Day celebrations in Saint Lucia,[28] addressing Senate and Assembly of Barbados jointly,[29] and a visit to sites affected by the volcanic eruptions in Montserrat.

The Queen appointed the Earl of Wessex as Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland for 2014.[30][31]

Titles, styles, honours and armsEdit Edit

Titles and stylesEdit Edit

  • 10 March 1964 – 19 June 1999His Royal Highness The Prince Edward
  • 19 June 1999 – presentHis Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex

He has been a British prince since birth and his present style and full title is: His Royal Highness The Prince Edward Antony Richard Louis, Earl of Wessex, Viscount Severn, Royal Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, Honorary Member of the Saskatchewan Order of Merit, Aide-de-Camp to Her Majesty.

Before Edward's marriage in 1999, royal commentators conjectured that former royal dukedoms such as Cambridge or Sussex might be granted to him. Instead, the Palace announced its intention that Prince Edward would eventually succeed to the title Duke of Edinburgh, currently held by his father.[32][d] In the meantime, in keeping with the tradition of sons of monarchs being ennobled upon marriage (while reserving the rank of duke for the future), Prince Edward became the first prince since the Tudors to be specifically created an earl, rather than a duke.[33] The Sunday Telegraph reported that he was drawn to the historic title Earl of Wessex after watching the 1998 film Shakespeare in Love, in which a character with that title is played by Colin Firth.[34]

As Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland for 2014,[35][36] he was also entitled to be styled as His Grace The Lord High Commissioner for the duration of General Assembly week (17–23 May).

Honours and decorationsEdit Edit

See also: List of honours of the British Royal Family by country


Orders
  • 23 April 2006 – present: Royal Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter (KG)[37]
  • 10 March 2011 – present: Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO)[38]
    • 2 June 2003 – 10 March 2011: Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO)[39]
      • 10 March 1989 – 2 June 2003: Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO)[40]
  • 11 May 2005 – present: Honorary Member of the Saskatchewan Order of Merit (SOM)[41]
Medals
  • 6 February 1977: Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal
  • 9 February 1990: New Zealand Commemorative Medal
  • 6 February 2002: Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal
  • 7 June 2005: Commemorative Medal for the Centennial of Saskatchewan
  • 6 February 2012: Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal
  • 29 October 2015: Canadian Forces' Decoration[42]

Military appointmentsEdit Edit

Regular
  • October 1986 – January 1987: Officer Cadet, Royal Marines
Personal
  • 1 August 2004 – present: Personal Aide-de-Camp to Her Majesty The Queen (AdC(P))

Honorary military appointmentsEdit Edit

Canada
  • 2002: Colonel-in-Chief of the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment
  • 2003: Colonel-in-Chief of the Saskatchewan Dragoons
  • 2005: Colonel-in-Chief of the Prince Edward Island Regiment
  • 2007: Honorary Deputy Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
United Kingdom
  • 2003: Royal Honorary Colonel of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry[43]
  • 2006: Commodore-in-Chief of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary
  • 2007: Royal Colonel of 2nd Battalion, The Rifles
  • 2008: Honorary Air Commodore of Royal Air Force Waddington
  • 2011: Royal Honorary Colonel of the London Regiment[44]

Civic appointmentsEdit Edit

  • 2008: Liveryman Honoris Causa, Worshipful Company of Haberdashers
  • 2008: Liveryman Honoris Causa, Worshipful Company of Gardeners
  • 2011: Freeman of the City of London
  • 2011: Member, Court of Assistants, Worshipful Company of Haberdashers[45]
  • 2011: Member, Court of Assistants, Worshipful Company of Gardeners
  • 2013: Master, Worshipful Company of Gardeners

Academic appointmentsEdit Edit

  • 2013 – present: Chancellor of the University of Bath[46]
Academic degrees
  • 1991: Master of Arts, University of Cambridge
  • 1994: Honorary Doctor of Laws, University of Victoria
  • 2007: Honorary Doctor of Laws, University of Prince Edward Island[47]
  • 2013: Honorary Doctor of Laws, University of Bath[46]

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