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The Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex (Edward Antony Richard Louis; born 10 March 1964) 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 resident in and most directly involved with the United Kingdommarker, 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 Palacemarker 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 Castlemarker 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 Schoolmarker, near Ascotmarker. He then, as his father and elder brother had done before him, moved to Gordonstounmarker, in northern Scotlandmarker, and was appointed Head Boy in his last term. After this schooling, Edward spent a gap year abroad, working as a house tutor and junior master for two terms in September 1982 at the Wanganui Collegiate Schoolmarker in New Zealandmarker.

Upon his return to the United Kingdom, Edward matriculated at Jesus College, Cambridgemarker, reading history. He graduated with a third class Bachelor of Arts degree in 1986, and as is customary was subsequently awarded the Master of Arts 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. It was there that 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." 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.


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 amidst "persistent rumours" that the prince may be secretly gay, despite his public denial in the Daily Mirror in 1990. His wife has also publicly denied the rumours in the News of the World. However, the press remained unconvinced, and the announcement was followed by what the Pink Triangle Trust called "a torrent of cynicism".

The wedding itself took place on 19 June of the same year at St George's Chapelmarker at Windsor Castlemarker. This was a break from the weddings of Edward's older siblings, which were large, formal events at Westminster Abbeymarker or St Paul's Cathedralmarker. 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, 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. 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, 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 Malaysiamarker. 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

  • 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 Wessexmarker 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.

King of Estonia

In 1994, the leaders of Estonia'smarker (now defunct) Royalist Party, with 10 percent of the seats in the Estonian National Parliament, 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, but he obviously has not assumed, and almost certainly never will assume, the non-existent throne of this Baltic state.

Military ranks

  • October 1986 January 1987: Officer candidate, Royal Marines. Resigned in January 1987, four months into his training.




Honorary degrees

Honorary military appointments

United Kingdom




Name Birth Marriage Issue
Lady Louise Windsor (Princess Louise of Wessex) 8 November 2003
James, Viscount Severn (Prince James of Wessex) 17 December 2007

See also


External links

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