Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex
|The Earl of Wessex in Yate in December 2011|
|Heir apparent||James, Viscount Severn|
|Spouse||Sophie, Countess of Wessex
|Lady Louise Windsor
James, Viscount Severn
|Edward Antony Richard Louis|
|House||House of Windsor|
|Father||Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh|
10 March 1964 |
Buckingham Palace, London
|Religion||Church of England|
|The Royal Family of the
United Kingdom and the
other Commonwealth realms
Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex KG GCVO ADC(P) (Edward Antony Richard Louis; born 10 March 1964) is the third son and fourth (and youngest) child of Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. At the time of his birth, he was third in the line of succession to the thrones of ten independent sovereign states known as the Commonwealth realms; however, after the births of two children each to his two elder brothers, and an evolution of the Commonwealth, Prince Edward is now seventh in line to the thrones of sixteen countries: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Kitts and Nevis.
Early life and education
Prince Edward Anthony Richard Louis was born at Buckingham Palace, on 10 March 1964, the third son and fourth and last child of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Baptised on 2 May 1964 in the Private Chapel at Windsor Castle by the then Dean of Windsor, Robert Woods; the Prince's godparents were: Prince Richard of Gloucester (his mother's first cousin); the Duchess of Kent (his mother's first cousin by marriage, for whom Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, his mother's aunt by marriage, stood proxy); Princess George William of Hanover (his paternal aunt); the Prince of Hesse and by Rhine (his cousin); and the Earl of Snowdon (his maternal uncle by marriage). As a child of the Sovereign, Edward was styled from birth as His Royal Highness The Prince Edward.
As with his older siblings, a governess was appointed to look after the Prince 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 Preparatory School, near Ascot. He then, as his father and elder brother 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, and after his schooling 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, to read history. His admission to Cambridge caused some controversy at the time, as his A-level grades were far below the standard normally required, "straight As", for entry to the university. Edward graduated in 1986 with lower second class honours, and, as is customary at Cambridge, proceeded Master of Arts (Cantab) in 1991, making Edward the fourth of only five members of the Royal Family in history to have obtained a university degree.
On leaving university, Prince Edward joined the Royal Marines to train as an officer cadet; however, in January 1987 he resigned after completing one third of the 12 month basic training course. Edward thereafter became more involved in theatre, an activity he had enjoyed at school and university. In the late 1980s, he worked for two theatrical production companies, including Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Theatre Company, where he worked on musicals such as The Phantom of the Opera, Starlight Express, and Cats. While there he commissioned the 1986 musical Cricket from Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, for his mother's 60th birthday celebration. At the Really Useful Company, Edward met actress Ruthie Henshall, whom he dated for two 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 himself, Princess Anne and the Duke and Duchess of York competed for charity. The media attacked the programme; it was later reported that the Queen was not in favour of the event and that all her courtiers had advised against it.
In 1993, Edward formed Ardent Productions, under the name of Edward Windsor from 1995, and later Edward Wessex. Ardent was involved in the production of a number of documentaries and dramas, but Edward was accused in the media of using his royal connections for financial gain, although his activities were seemingly more kindly received in the United States. A documentary on his great uncle, Edward VIII (later the Duke of Windsor) in 1996 sold well around the globe. The company reported losses for every year of its existence except one, and only then because Edward did not draw a salary. An Ardent two-man film crew invaded the privacy of his nephew Prince William in September 2001 while he was studying at the University of St Andrews against industry guidelines regarding the Royals' privacy.The Prince of Wales was reportedly angered by the incident. In March 2002, the Prince announced that he would step down as director of production and joint managing director of Ardent to concentrate on his public duties and to support the Queen during her Golden Jubilee year. Ardent Productions was voluntarily liquidated in June 2009 with assets of £40; Edward had maintained a connection to the company as a non-executive director.
The Prince's engagement to Sophie Rhys-Jones, then a public relations executive with her own firm, 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.
The wedding itself took place on 19 June, of the same year, at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. This was a break 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, the Queen conferred on Prince Edward the titles of Earl of Wessex and Viscount Severn, again breaking with the tradition that the son of a sovereign is created a duke. It was also announced that the Earl of Wessex would be created Duke of Edinburgh when that dukedom, held by Edward's father since 1947, reverts to the Crown, which will happen only after "both the death of the current Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales' succession as King." It was also announced that any children of the Earl and Countess would be styled as the children of an Earl, rather than as Prince/ss and Royal Highness (as they would otherwise have been under the Letters Patent issued by King George V). Consequently, Edward's two children are known as Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn. The family resides at Bagshot Park in Surrey.
The Earl of Wessex, along with his wife, carries out a full schedule of royal duties on behalf of the Queen, receiving Civil List monies from the Queen of £141,000 per annum for their work in the United Kingdom, and various amounts from the governments of the other realms for his work there.
The Earl has taken on many roles from his father, the Duke of Edinburgh, who is reducing some commitments owing to his age. The Earl replaced him as President of the Commonwealth Games Federation (since 2006 its Vice-Patron) 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.
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, a joint address to both houses of the Barbados parliament, and a visit to sites affected by the recent volcanic eruptions in Montserrat.
Titles, styles, honours and arms
Titles and styles
- 10 March 1964 – 19 June 1999: His Royal Highness The Prince Edward
- 19 June 1999 – present: His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex
The Prince's style and title in full: 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, Aide-de-Camp to Her Majesty. The Earldom of Wessex has a distinguished royal history, the Kingdom of Wessex having played the leading role in the unification of Anglo-Saxon England. The last person to hold the earldom was Harold Godwinson, prior to his accession to the English throne in 1066.
As Edward's 1999 marriage approached, experts suggested the former royal dukedoms of Cambridge and Sussex as the most likely to be granted to him. Instead, the Palace announced that Prince Edward would eventually succeed to the title Duke of Edinburgh, currently held by his father. In the meantime, in keeping with the tradition of a monarch's son receiving a title upon marriage, but preserving the rank of duke for the future, Prince Edward became the first British prince in centuries to be specifically created an earl, rather than a duke. 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. The Dukedom of Cambridge was later conferred upon Prince Edward's nephew Prince William, when he married Catherine Middleton in April 2011.
- October 1986 – January 1987: Officer Cadet, Royal Marines
- 1 May 2011: Royal Honorary Colonel of The London Regiment
- 10 March 1989 – 2 June 2003: Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO)
- 23 April 2006 – : Royal Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter (KG)
- 1 August 2004 – : Personal Aide-de-Camp to Her Majesty The Queen (AdC(P))
- 11 May 2005 – : Honorary Member of the Saskatchewan Order of Merit (SOM)
- Decorations and Medals
- 10 March 1977: Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal
- 1990: New Zealand Commemorative Medal
- 2 June 2002: Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal
- 7 June 2005: Commemorative Medal for the Centennial of Saskatchewan
- 2012: Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal
- August 1994: Honorary Degree, University of Victoria
- 13 October 2007: Honorary Degree, University of Prince Edward Island
Honorary military appointments
- Colonel-in-Chief of the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment
- Colonel-in-Chief of the Prince Edward Island Regiment (2 August 2005 - Present) 
- Colonel-in-Chief of the Saskatchewan Dragoons (2003–Present)
- Honorary Deputy Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
- Royal Honorary Colonel of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry
- Royal Honorary Colonel of the London Regiment
- Royal Colonel of the 2nd Battalion, The Rifles
- Honorary Air Commodore Royal Air Force Waddington
- Commodore-in-Chief of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary
Honorary civic appointments
- Liveryman Honoris Causa, Worshipful Company of Haberdashers (2008)
- Freeman of the City of London (2011)
- member, Court of Assistants, Worshipful Company of Haberdashers (2011)
|Lady Louise Windsor||8 November 2003|
|James, Viscount Severn||17 December 2007|
- As a titled royal, Edward holds no surname, but, when one is used, it is Mountbatten-Windsor (although he has previously used Windsor and Wessex).
- "The Royal Family > Members of the Royal Family > TRH The Earl and Countess of Wessex". Buckingham Palace. Retrieved 19 March 2008.[dead link]
- "Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex". The House Of Windsor. English Monarchs. Retrieved 7 January 2009. "He was baptised on 2 May 1964 at the private chapel at Windsor Castle by the Dean of Windsor and was given the names Edward Anthony Richard Louis."
- Yvonne's Royalty Home Page – Royal Christenings
- "The family qualifications". The Daily Telegraph (London). 16 October 2006.
- "The prince with a difference". BBC News. 11 June 1999.
- Watson, Jeremy (12 June 2005). "William enjoys a degree of success". The Scotsman (Edinburgh).
- Ben Pimlott "Polishing Their Image", extract from The Queen, HarperCollins (1996) reprinted on the PBS Frontline webpage
- Beckett, Andy (5 March 2002). "It's a royal cock-up". The Guardian (London).
- Ardent Productions Filoography, BFI Film & TV Database
- Karlin, Susan (26 September 1998). "Edward Windsor: Truly a Prince Among Producers". Los Angeles Times.
- "Edward: No intention to offend". BBC News. 2 September 1999.
- Summerskill, Ben (29 October 2000). "Losses double at Prince's TV firm". The Guardian (London).
- "Edward's turbulent media career". BBC News. 27 September 2001.
- Alderson, Andrew (30 September 2001). "Prince Edward to apologise to Queen and agrees to stop making royal films". The Sunday Telegraph (London).
- Moore, Matthew (29 March 2010). "Prince Edward's Ardent Productions left with assets of just £40". The Daily Telegraph (London).
- Young, Andrew (27 March 2010). "Prince Edward's failed TV firm turns investors' £2.2m into just £40.27". Daily Mail (London).
- "Crown jewels: The fabulous rings which sealed the love of Europe's royal couples". HELLO! magazine (UK).
- "A Royal Anniversary: The Earl of Wessex Turns 40". Royal Insight (Buckingham Palace) (March 2004). March 2004. Retrieved 26 October 2008.[dead link]
- Whitaker's Almanack 2010, page 46 'Peers of the Blood Royal'
- "The Royal Family > Members of the Royal Family > HRH The Earl of Wessex > Marriage and Family". Buckingham Palace. Retrieved 26 October 2008.[dead link]
- "The Monarchy Today > Royal Finances > Financial Arrangements of Other Members of the Royal Family". Buckingham Palace. Retrieved 11 December 2007.[dead link]
- "Royals to begin Caribbean tour bypasses Dominica", The Dominican, 16 February 2012, retrieved 19 February 2012
- Lynch, Sharon (27 January 2012). "Barbados: Royal Visit To Mark Queen's Diamond Jubilee". Bajan Sun Online. Retrieved 6 February 2012.
- Styles and titles
- Richard Eden (12 December 2010). "Royal wedding: Prince William asks the Queen not to make him a duke". The Telegraph. Retrieved 12 December 2010.
- "Noblesse et Royautés", Guests to Victoria of Sweden's wedding, Photo
- The Earl of Wessex appointed GVCO, 10 March 2011 Buckingham Palace. Retrieved 20 March 2011
- "Prince Edward Awarded Saskatchewan Order of Merit" (Press release). Government of Saskatchewan. 11 May 2005. Retrieved 27 October 2008.
- "Prince Edward gives medals to P.E.I. soldiers". CTV. 14 October 2007. Retrieved 11 July 2009.
- "Prince Edward to visit Canada". Globe and Mail (Toronto). Canadian Press. 5 September 2007.
- All The Queen's Horses: fourth RCMP steed crosses Atlantic to join Royal Mews[dead link]
- "London Gazette". Retrieved 8 May 2011.
- "Edward and Sophie name their new baby James". Daily Mail. UK. 21 December 2007. Retrieved 3 May 2011.
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Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex
Cadet branch of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-GlücksburgBorn: 10 March 1964
|Lines of succession|
Princess Eugenie of York
|Line of succession to the British throne
|Peerage of the United Kingdom|
|New creation||Earl of Wessex
19 June 1999 – present
|Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom|
The Duke of York
HRH The Earl of Wessex
The Duke of Cambridge
in current practice
Prince Harry of Wales