Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex

"The Earl of Wessex" and "The Prince Edward" redirect here. For other uses, see Earl of Wessex and Prince Edward (disambiguation).
Prince Edward
Earl of Wessex (more)

The Earl in Belfast, February 2015
Born (1964-03-10) 10 March 1964
Buckingham Palace, London, UK
Spouse Sophie Rhys-Jones (m. 1999)
Issue Lady Louise Windsor
James, Viscount Severn
Full name
Edward Antony Richard Louis[lower-alpha 1]
House Windsor
Father Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Mother Elizabeth II

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 2016, he is ninth in line.

Early life and education

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.[lower-alpha 2]

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 of only five members of the Royal Family in history to have obtained a university degree.


Royal Marines

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 television

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.[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 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.[11]

Ardent Productions

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]


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][lower-alpha 3]

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.


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 arms

Titles and styles

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][33] 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.[34] 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.[35]

As Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland for 2014,[36][37] 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 decorations

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


Military appointments


Honorary military appointments

Canada Canada
United Kingdom United Kingdom

Civic appointments

Academic appointments

Academic degrees


Personal flag for Canada

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.[50][51]


See also


  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 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 first cousin twice removed); and the Earl of Snowdon (his maternal uncle by marriage).[4]
  3. as previous Letters Patent issued by King George V stipulated


  1. 1 2 "TRH The Earl and Countess of Wessex". Members of The Royal Family. Buckingham Palace. Archived from the original on 8 March 2008. Retrieved 19 March 2008.
  2. The London Gazette: no. 43268. p. 2255. 11 March 1964. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  3. "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.
  4. Yvonne's Royalty Home Page – Royal Christenings
  5. "The family qualifications". The Daily Telegraph. London. 16 October 2006.
  6. "The prince with a difference". BBC News. 11 June 1999.
  7. Watson, Jeremy (12 June 2005). "William enjoys a degree of success". The Scotsman. Edinburgh.
  8. "Commando Life Losing Appeal for Prince?". New York Times. 12 January 1987. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
  9. "Edward Goes His Own Way". People. 26 January 1987. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
  10. "Prince Edward Joins the Theater at 'Lowest Rung'". LA Times. 19 January 1988. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
  11. Ben Pimlott "Polishing Their Image", extract from The Queen, HarperCollins (1996) reprinted on the PBS Frontline webpage
  12. 1 2 3 Beckett, Andy (5 March 2002). "It's a royal cock-up". The Guardian. London.
  13. 1 2 Ardent Productions Filoography, BFI Film & TV Database
  14. Karlin, Susan (26 September 1998). "Edward Windsor: Truly a Prince Among Producers". Los Angeles Times.
  15. Becket, Andy (4 March 2002). "It's a royal cock-up". The Guardian.
  16. "Edward: No intention to offend". BBC News. 2 September 1999.
  17. Summerskill, Ben (29 October 2000). "Losses double at Prince's TV firm". The Guardian. London.
  18. "Edward's turbulent media career". BBC News. 27 September 2001.
  19. Alderson, Andrew (30 September 2001). "Prince Edward to apologise to Queen and agrees to stop making royal films". The Sunday Telegraph. London.
  20. Moore, Matthew (29 March 2010). "Prince Edward's Ardent Productions left with assets of just £40". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  21. Warren, Jane (18 October 2011). "The only way is Wessex". London.
  22. Skyes, Tom (25 July 2012). "Sex Lives of the New Royals". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 8 June 2013.
  23. "Crown jewels: The fabulous rings which sealed the love of Europe's royal couples". HELLO! magazine. UK.
  24. The London Gazette: no. 55536. p. 7011. 28 June 1999. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  25. Whitaker's Almanack 2010, page 46 'Peers of the Blood Royal'
  26. "The Royal Family > Members of the Royal Family > HRH The Earl of Wessex > Marriage and Family". Buckingham Palace. Archived from the original on 21 October 2008. Retrieved 26 October 2008.
  27. "The Duke of Edinburgh's Award". Royal family. Retrieved 29 August 2013.
  28. "Royals to begin Caribbean tour bypasses Dominica". The Dominican. 16 February 2012. Retrieved 19 February 2012.
  29. Lynch, Sharon (27 January 2012). "Barbados: Royal Visit To Mark Queen's Diamond Jubilee". Bajan Sun Online. Retrieved 6 February 2012.
  30. The Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Government, 2014.
  31. The Edinburgh Gazette: no. 27354. p. 65. 17 January 2014. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  32. Styles and titles, Royal family.
  33. 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
  35. Eden, Richard (12 December 2010). "Royal wedding: Prince William asks the Queen not to make him a duke". The Telegraph. Retrieved 12 December 2010.
  36. The Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Government, 2014.
  37. The Edinburgh Gazette: no. 27354. p. 65. 17 January 2014. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  38. "Noblesse et Royautés", Guests to Victoria of Sweden's wedding, Photo
  39. The London Gazette: no. 59724. p. 4555. 11 March 2011. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  40. The Earl of Wessex appointed GVCO, 10 March 2011 Buckingham Palace. Retrieved 20 March 2011
  41. The London Gazette: no. 56951. p. 6753. 2 June 2003. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  42. The London Gazette: no. 51673. p. 3193. 14 March 1989. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
  43. "Prince Edward Awarded Saskatchewan Order of Merit" (Press release). Government of Saskatchewan. 11 May 2005. Retrieved 27 October 2008.
  44. Canadian Forces Page 28
  45. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 57032. p. 10318. 19 August 2003. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  46. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 59772. p. 8211. 3 May 2011. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  47. "The Earl of Wessex: Honours and appointments". Royal Household.
  48. 1 2 "The Chancellor". Retrieved 7 November 2013.
  49. "Prince Edward gives medals to P.E.I. soldiers". CTV. 14 October 2007. Retrieved 11 July 2009.
  50. "Canadian Flags of the Royal Family". Canadian Crown. Government of Canada. Retrieved 4 January 2016.
  51. "The Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex". Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges. Office of the Governor General of Canada: Canadian Heraldic Authority. Retrieved 4 January 2016.
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Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex
Born: 10 March 1964
Lines of succession
Preceded by
Princess Eugenie of York
Line of succession to the British throne
9th position
Followed by
Viscount Severn
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Earl of Wessex
James, Viscount Severn
Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
Preceded by
The Duke of York
HRH The Earl of Wessex
Followed by
The Duke of Cambridge
in current practice
Followed by
Prince Henry of Wales
Academic offices
Preceded by
Lord Tugendhat
Chancellor of the University of Bath
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