Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex

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Prince Edward
Royal Wedding Stockholm 2010-Konserthuset-403.jpg
The Earl and Countess of Wessex at the wedding of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, 19 June 2010
Earl of Wessex
Heir apparentJames, Viscount Severn
SpouseSophie, Countess of Wessex
IssueLady Louise Windsor
James, Viscount Severn
Full name
Edward Antony Richard Louis[1]
HouseHouse of Windsor
FatherPrince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
MotherElizabeth II

The Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex (Edward Antony Richard Louis; born 10 March 1964)[2] is the third son and fourth child of Queen 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 states; however, after additions to the Royal Family, and an evolution of the Commonwealth, Edward is currently seventh in line to the thrones of 16 countries. He is a resident of and most directly involved with the United Kingdom, the oldest realm, while also carrying out duties in and on behalf of the other states of which his mother is sovereign.

Early life and education

Edward was born at Buckingham Palace on 10 March 1964, the fourth child and third son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and fifth grandchild of Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. Baptised on 2 May 1964 in the Private Chapel at Windsor Castle[3] by then Dean of Windsor, Robert Woods, the Prince's godparents were Prince Richard; Prince Louis of Hesse and by Rhine; Antony Armstrong-Jones, Earl of Snowdon; Katharine, Duchess of Kent, for whom Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, stood proxy; and Princess Sophie of Greece and Denmark, his paternal aunt. As the child of the sovereign, Edward was styled from birth as His Royal Highness and held the title 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[4], 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 the United Kingdom, 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 below the standard normally required for entry to the university.[5] Edward graduated in 1986 with lower second class honours, and as is customary at Cambridge was subsequently awarded the Master of Arts (Cantab) degree 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; however, he resigned his commission in January 1987, before graduation. 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 was part of plays such as 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 the world of television production was the programme It's a Royal Knockout, in June 1987, in which teams sponsored by himself and other members of the Royal Family competed for charity. Though the show was controversial, it having been reported that the Queen had not approved of the event and that her courtiers had advised against it, in 1993, Edward went on to form the Ardent Television production company, under the name of Edward Windsor, and later Edward Wessex; this led The Guardian, for one, to refer to him as "the Edward formerly known as Prince".[6] Ardent was heavily involved in the production of documentaries and dramas, particularly of material for the Prince's work. However, he was accused in the media of using his royal connections for personal and business gain, particularly given the financial problems of Ardent since its founding; it reported losses for all years of its existence except one. In 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.


File:Edward Sophie Wedding.jpg
The Earl and Countess on their wedding day in 1999.

The Prince's engagement to Sophie Rhys-Jones, then a public relations manager with her own firm, was announced on 6 January 1999. This was amid "persistent rumours" that the prince may be secretly gay. He publicly denied this in the Daily Mirror in 1990,[7] and his wife publicly denied the rumours in the News of the World.[8] Much of the press remained unconvinced, and the announcement was followed by what the Pink Triangle Trust called "a torrent of cynicism".[9]

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 at that time that the Earl of Wessex would be created Duke of Edinburgh when the current creation of that dukedom, held by Edward's father since 1947, reverts to the Crown,[10][2] and that any children of the Earl and Countess would not use the title of Prince or Princess with the style Royal Highness, to which they are entitled under Letters Patent issued by King George V.[11] The Earl and Countess of Wessex have two children, and the family resides at Bagshot Park in Surrey.

Official duties

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,[12] and various amounts from the governments of the other realms for his work there.

The Earl has, in recent years, succeeded to many of the roles of his father, the Duke of Edinburgh, who is reducing some commitments owing to his advancing age. The Earl replaced him as President of the Commonwealth Games Federation (since 2006 its Vice-Patron) and opened 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. His other appointments reflect his interests in sport and the arts such as the recent announcement that he will succeed his father as President of the Central Council for Physical Recreation (CCPR).

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Titles and styles

Royal styles of
HRH the Earl of Wessex
Reference styleHis Royal Highness
Spoken styleYour Royal Highness
Alternative styleSir
  • 10 March 1964 – 19 June 1999: His Royal Highness The Prince Edward
  • 19 June 1999–: 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, Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order, Honorary Member of the Saskatchewan Order of Merit, Aide-de-Camp to Her Majesty. The Earldom of Wessex has a distinguished royal lineage, the Kingdom of Wessex having played the leading role in the unification of Anglo-Saxon England. The last person to hold the title Earl of Wessex was Harold Godwinson, prior to his accession to the English throne in 1066.

Offer of role in monarchy of Estonia

In 1994, the leaders of (now defunct) Independent Royalist Party of Estonia, with 10 percent of the seats in the Riigikogu, wrote to Prince Edward indicating that they would, if they came to power, like to offer him the position of King of Estonia. In their letter, they said that they wanted Edward as King because of their admiration "for him, Britain, its monarchy, democracy and culture." It is unknown how, or even if, the Prince responded. The party was thought to be largely humorous, rather than a genuine monarchist party.[13]

Military ranks



Honorary degrees

Honorary military appointments

Canada Canada
United Kingdom United Kingdom


Coat of arms of Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex
Coat of Arms of Edward, Earl of Wessex.svg
The Earl's personalized coat of arms are those of the Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom with a label for difference
Quarterly 1st and 4th gules three lions passant guardant in pale or armed and langed azure 2nd or a lion rampant gules armed and langued azure within a double tressure flory counterflory of the second 3rd azure a harp or stringed argent
Dexter a lion rampant gardant Or imperially crowned Proper, sinister a unicorn Argent, armed, crined and unguled Or, gorged with a coronet Or composed of crosses patée and fleurs de lis a chain affixed thereto passing between the forelegs and reflexed over the back also Or
The Order of the Garter ribbon.
Honi soit qui mal y pense
(Shame be to him who thinks evil of it)
Other elements
The whole differenced by a Label of three points Argent the central point charged with a Tudor rose.
As with the Royal Arms of the United Kingdom. The first and fourth quarters are the arms of England, the second of Scotland, the third of Ireland.



Name Birth Marriage Issue
Lady Louise Windsor 8 November 2003
James, Viscount Severn 17 December 2007

See also


  1. ^ 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)
  2. ^ a b "The Royal Family > Members of the Royal Family > TRH The Earl and Countess of Wessex". Buckingham Palace. Retrieved 2008-03-19.
  3. ^ "Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex". The House Of Windsor. English Monarchs. Retrieved 2009-01-07. 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.
  4. ^ "The family qualifications". The Telegraph. 16 October 2006.
  5. ^ "The prince with a difference". 11 June 1999.
  6. ^ "Wessex Prince... Or having your cake and eating it". The Guardian. 22 June 1999.
  7. ^ "Edward's search for love". United Kingdom: BBC News. 1999-01-06. Retrieved 2009-01-07. Prince Edward's forthcoming marriage to Sophie Rhys-Jones should finally put to rest persistent rumours about his sexuality... In 1990 he publicly denied being a homosexual when interrogated by reporters on a trip to the United States.
  8. ^ Lindsey, Daryl (2001-08-31). "A royal pain". United States: Salon Media Group, Inc. p. 2. Retrieved 2009-01-07. Until Prince Edward met Sophie Rhys-Jones, all tabloid bets were that he was gay. "I am not gay", Edward famously told London's Daily Mirror newspaper following reports that he had had a "touching" relationship with the male lead of an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical... Rhys-Jones agreed to an interview with the News of the World, in which she offered, unsolicited, "My Edward is not gay." More than one of |author= and |last= specified (help)
  9. ^ Sanderson, Terry (1999). "Reason to be Cheerful". Winter 1999-2000 Issue. United Kingdom: The Pink Triangle Trust. Retrieved 2009-01-07. Then Prince Edward – long regarded as the Queen's most likely-to-be-gay offspring – got himself engaged to Ms Sophie Rhys-Jones. This event brought forth a torrent of cynicism from the press More than one of |author= and |last= specified (help)
  10. ^ "A Royal Anniversary: The Earl of Wessex Turns 40". Royal Insight. Buckingham Palace (March 2004). 2004. Retrieved 2008-10-26. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  11. ^ "The Royal Family > Members of the Royal Family > HRH The Earl of Wessex > Marriage and Family". Buckingham Palace. Retrieved 2008-10-26.
  12. ^ "The Monarchy Today > Royal Finances > Financial Arrangements of Other Members of the Royal Family". Buckingham Palace. Retrieved 2007-12-11.
  13. ^ Mayer, Jeremy D. (1998). "Zog for Albania, Edward for Estonia, and Monarchs for All the Rest? The Royal Road to Prosperity, Democracy, and World Peace". PS: Political Science and Politics. American Political Science Association. 31 (4): 771–774. doi:10.2307/420713. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help); Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
  14. ^ "St George's Chapel > History > Orders of Chivalry". St George's Chapel. Retrieved 2008-10-27.
  15. ^ "Prince Edward Awarded Saskatchewan Order of Merit" (Press release). Government of Saskatchewan. 11 May 2005. Retrieved 2008-10-27.
  16. ^ Canadian Press (5 September 2007). "Prince Edward to visit Canada". Globe and Mail.

External links

Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex
Cadet branch of the House of Oldenburg
Born: 10 March 1964
British royalty
Preceded by
Princess Eugenie of York
Line of succession to the British throne
7th position
Succeeded by
Viscount Severn
Preceded by
The Duke of York
Line of succession to the
Dukedom of Edinburgh

5th position
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Earl of Wessex
2nd creation
19 June 1999 – present
Heir Apparent:
Viscount Severn
Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
Preceded by
The Duke of York
HRH The Earl of Wessex
Succeeded by
Prince William of Wales
in current practice
Succeeded by
Prince Henry of Wales