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Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex

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 of succession to the British throne; he is now tenth. The Earl is a full-time working member of the British royal family and supports the Queen in her official duties – often alongside his wife the Countess of Wessex - as well as undertaking public engagements for a large number of his own charities. In particular he 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.

Prince Edward
Earl of Wessex (more)
Prince Edward February 2015.jpg
The Earl in Belfast, February 2015
Born (1964-03-10) 10 March 1964 (age 54)
Buckingham Palace, London, England
Spouse Sophie Rhys-Jones (m. 1999)
Issue
Full name
Edward Antony Richard Louis[a]
House Windsor
Father Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Mother Queen Elizabeth II

Contents

Early life and educationEdit

Prince Edward was born on 10 March 1964, at Buckingham Palace, London,[2] as the third son, and the 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 before attending Gibbs School in Kensington. In September 1972, he joined 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.[6][7]

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.[8] Edward graduated in 1986 as BA (lower second class honours).[9]

Post-universityEdit

Royal MarinesEdit

In 1986, on leaving university, Prince 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.[10]

In January 1987, however, Prince Edward dropped out of the gruelling commando course after having completed 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".[11] Later, others claimed that Philip was in fact the most sympathetic family member and that he understood his son's decision.[12]

Theatre and televisionEdit

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 Opera, Starlight Express, and Cats. His duties reportedly involved making tea for the artistic staff.[13] 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 four teams sponsored by him, 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 her courtiers had all advised against it.[14]

Ardent ProductionsEdit

In 1993, Edward formed the television production company Ardent Productions.[15] Ardent was involved in the production of a number of documentaries and dramas,[16] but Edward was accused in the media of using his royal connections for financial gain,[17] 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".[18]

Ardent's productions were somewhat better received in the United States[19] and a documentary Edward made about his grand-uncle, Edward VIII (the late Duke of Windsor) in 1996,[16] sold well worldwide.[20] Nonetheless, the company reported losses every year it operated save one when Edward did not draw a salary.[15] 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.[21] The Prince of Wales was reportedly angered by the incident.[22] In March 2002, Edward announced that he would step down as production director and joint managing director of Ardent[15] 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.[23]

MarriageEdit

 
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.[24] 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.[25]

Their wedding took place on 19 June 1999 in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. This was a departure from the weddings of his elder brothers, which had ended in divorce and 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 (derived from the Welsh roots of the Countess's family),[26][27] 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 the death of the current Duke and the Queen[28]), and for his children to be styled as the children of an Earl, rather than as prince/ss and royal highness.[29]

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. While their private residence is Bagshot Park, their office and official London residence is based at Buckingham Palace.[30]

ActivitiesEdit

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.[31]

The Earl and Countess of Wessex established their foundation The Wessex Youth Trust in 1999 with a focus to help, support and advance registered charities which provide opportunities specifically for children and young people.[32] His patronages include: the British Paralympic Association,[33] the International Real Tennis Professionals Association,[34] the Commonwealth Games Federation,[35][36] BadmintonScotland,[37] the Tennis and Rackets Association,[38] City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Chorus,[39][40] London Mozart Players,[41] Haddo House Choral and Operatic Society,[42] Northern Ballet,[43][44] and the Edinburgh International Festival.[45]

In September 2007, the Earl visited Israel in his capacity as chair of the International Council of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award to attend a number of events organised by the Israel Youth Award program, an affiliate of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award which was founded by his father to recognise adolescents and young adults for completing a series of self-improvement exercises.[46] Edward himself became a recipient of the award's gold medal in 1986 for "a 60-mile, four-day trek from Blair Atholl to Tomintoul" that he had planned.[47] Edward later went on to become the chair of the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award,[48] and has promoted its work on different occasions.[49][50][51][52] In addition to being thw chair of the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award Foundation, Edward is also the trustee of the International Award Association, which "encompasses the DofE UK and all its other 61 National Award Authorities across the globe."[53] He was also chair of its international council and in 1999 founded the International Special Projects Group "to provide a capital fund to broaden the reach of the Award."[54]

 
The Earl of Wessex at Yate, Gloucestershire, December 2011

In June 2011, Edward visited Baltimore to meet with the students and staff of the Living Classrooms Foundation and encourage them to participate in the Duke of Edinburgh's Award's programme.[55] In December 2011, the Earl and Countess of Wessex visited troops in Afghanistan. On the same trip, the royal couple visited Bahrain, and received two gifts of jewels from the Bahraini royal family and Prime Minister. Given concern about human rights abuses in Bahrain, this gift attracted controversy, with calls for the jewels to be sold, and the proceeds used for the benefit of the Bahraini people.[56] In February and March 2012, the couple 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,[57] addressing Senate and Assembly of Barbados jointly,[58] and a visit to sites affected by the volcanic eruptions in Montserrat.

In 2013, the couple visited South Africa.[59] The Queen appointed the Earl of Wessex as Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland for 2014.[60][61] In 2015, for his contributions to projects associated with badminton, Edward was awarded the President's Medal by the Badminton World Federation President Poul-Erik Hoyer.[62] In May 2016, the Earl visited Ghana. Alongside President Mahama, he presented young people with the Head of State Awards for their participation in the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award Scheme.[63] In September 2016, Edward travelled to Chile as a part of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award's diamond anniversary, and visited projects by British and Commonwealth Fire and Rescue Company and Chilean-British Culture University of which he is an honorary member and patron respectively.[64] The Earl and Countess of Wessex represented the Queen at the 50th Anniversary Celebrations of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah's Accession to the Throne of Brunei in October 2017.[65] In February 2018, the Earl and Countess toured Sri Lanka, participating in the 70th Independence Day celebrations in Colombo.[66][67] In April 2018, the Earl visited Australia to attend then Commonwealth Games and attend fundraising events for those participating in the Duke of Edinburgh Award challenges.[68][69]

Titles, styles, honours, and armsEdit

Titles and stylesEdit

  • 10 March 1964 – 19 June 1999: His Royal Highness The Prince Edward
  • 19 June 1999 – present: His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex[70][71]

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.[72][c] 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.[73] 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.[74]

As Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland for 2014,[60][61] he was also entitled to be styled as His Grace The Lord High Commissioner for the duration of General Assembly week (17–23 May).

HonoursEdit

     
     

CommonwealthEdit

Military appointmentsEdit

Honorary military appointmentsEdit
  Canada
  United Kingdom
 
Prince Edward wearing the barrack dress uniform of The Rifles in the rank of colonel (2014)

Civic appointmentsEdit

Academic appointmentsEdit

Honorary degrees

ArmsEdit

Personal flag for CanadaEdit

 
Flag of the Earl of Wessex for use in Canada

Since 2014, the Earl of Wessex has a personal heraldic flag for use in Canada. It is the Royal Arms of Canada in banner form defaced with a blue roundel surrounded by a wreath of gold maple leaves, within which is a depiction of an "E" surmounted by a coronet. Above the roundel is a white label of three points, the centre one charged with a Tudor rose.[89][90]

AncestryEdit

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Edward seldom needs a surname, but when one is used, Mountbatten-Windsor, Windsor and Wessex have been used
  2. ^ Edward's godparents were: Prince Richard of Gloucester (his mother's cousin); the Duchess of Kent (his mother's cousin-in-law, for whom Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, his mother's aunt, stood proxy); Princess George William of Hanover (his aunt); the Prince of Hesse and by Rhine (his first cousin twice removed); and the Earl of Snowdon (his uncle).[4]
  3. ^ The Earl of Wessex would not automatically succeed his father, as titles are passed to the eldest son; hence, the Prince of Wales would succeed the present Duke. Once the Prince of Wales succeeds to the throne, any titles he has inherited from his father will merge with the Crown, and he will be free to re-create the Dukedom of Edinburgh

ReferencesEdit

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  35. ^ "HRH Prince Edward to attend inaugural Commonwealth Sports Summit". Common Wealth Games Canada. 8 September 2016. Retrieved 26 May 2018. 
  36. ^ "The Battle for Britain: May vs Sturgeon, in pictures". The Daily Telegraph. 13 March 2017. Retrieved 26 May 2018. 
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  40. ^ "Mirga meets our Royal Patron". City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. 16 June 2017. Retrieved 26 May 2018. 
  41. ^ Barr, Rachel. "Prince Edward visits Croydon for London Mozart Players' anniversary concert". South West Londoner. Retrieved 26 May 2018. 
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  67. ^ Foreign invitees to Independence Day Anniversary celebrations call on President
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  79. ^ "REAL HEIR-O? Prince Edward wore seven medals at a ceremony in Brunei — despite dropping out of the Royal Marines after four months". thesun.co.uk. Retrieved 6 October 2017. 
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External linksEdit

Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex
Born: 10 March 1964
Lines of succession
Preceded by
Princess Eugenie of York
Succession to the British throne
10th in line
Followed by
Viscount Severn
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Earl of Wessex
1999–present
Incumbent
Heir:
James, Viscount Severn
Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
Preceded by
The Duke of York
Gentlemen
The Earl of Wessex
Followed by
The Duke of Cambridge
Gentlemen
in current practice
Followed by
The Duke of Sussex
Academic offices
Preceded by
Lord Tugendhat
Chancellor of the University of Bath
2013–present
Incumbent