Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex

The Royal Family of the
United Kingdom
and the
other Commonwealth realms

HM The Queen
HRH The Duke of Edinburgh
[[|v]]·[[|d]]·e

The Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, (Edward Antony Richard Louis; born 10 March 1964)[1] 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 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[2] by then Dean of Windsor, Robert Woods, the Prince's godparents were: Prince Richard of Gloucester (his cousin); the Duchess of Kent (his cousin by marriage, for whom Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent 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).[3] 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 far below the standard normally required, "straight A-s", for entry to the university.[5] Edward graduated in 1986 with lower second class honours,[6] 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....

Career

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 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 It's a Royal Knockout, in June 1987, in which teams sponsored by himself and other members of the Royal Family competed for charity. The media attacked the programme; it was reported that the Queen had not approved of the event and that her courtiers had advised against it.

In 1993, Edward formed Ardent Productions, under the name of Edward Windsor from 1995[7] and later Edward Wessex. Ardent was involved in the production of a number of documentaries and dramas,[8] but Edward was accused in the media of using his royal connections for financial gain,[9] although his activities were reportedly more kindly received in the United States.[10] A documentary on his great uncle, Edward VIII (later the Duke of Windsor) in 1996[8] was sold around the world.[11] The company reported losses for all years of its existence except one, and only then because Edward did not draw a salary.[7] 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 Royal's privacy.[12] The Prince of Wales was reportedly angered by the incident.[13] In March 2002, the Prince announced that he would step down as director of production and joint managing director of Ardent[7] 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;[14] Edward had maintained a connection to the company as a non-executive director.[15] On 11 November 2010 Prince Edward attended Q3 Academy in Great Barr to formally open the £30 million building.

Marriage

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,[16] and his wife publicly denied the rumours in the News of the World.[17] Much of the press remained unconvinced, and the announcement was followed by what the Pink Triangle Trust called "a torrent of cynicism".[18]

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 creation of that dukedom, held by Edward's father since 1947, reverts to the Crown,[1][19] 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.[20] The Earl and Countess of Wessex have two children, and the family resides at Bagshot Park in Surrey.