Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex
Earl of Forfar

Viscount Severn

Full name
Edward Antony Richard Louis
Born 10 March 1964 (age 57)
Buckingham Palace
London, England
Spouse Sophie Rhys-Jones (m. 1999)
Lady Louise Windsor
James, Viscount Severn
House Windsor
Father Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Mother Queen Elizabeth II
Religion Church of England

Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex (Edward Antony Richard Louis; born 10 March 1964) is the youngest of four children and the third son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

The Royal Family of the
United Kingdom
and the
other Commonwealth realms
Badge of the House of Windsor.svg.png

HM The Queen
HRH The Duke of Edinburgh

v · d · e

At the time of his birth, he was third in line to succeed his mother; as of June 2021, he is thirteenth in line.

Early life and education[edit | edit source]


Prince Edward was born on 10 March 1964, at Buckingham Palace, London, 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 by the Dean of Windsor, Robin Woods. His godparents are: 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).

As with his older siblings, a governess was appointed to look after Edward and was responsible for his early education at Buckingham Palace before he attended Gibbs School in Kensington. In September 1972, he joined Heatherdown School, near Ascot in Berkshire. Then, as his father and elder brothers had done before him, he 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,and after leaving school spent a gap year abroad, working as a house tutor and junior master for two terms 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, since his A-level grades were far below the standard normally required for Oxbridge entrance, "straight As". Edward graduated in 1986 as BA (lower second class honours).

Post-university[edit | edit source]

Royal Marines[edit | edit source]

In 1986, on leaving university, Prince Edward joined the Royal Marines, who had paid £12,000 towards his tuition at Cambridge University on condition of future service.

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 that the move prompted a berating from Prince Philip who "reduced his son to prolonged tears". Later, others claimed that Philip was in fact the most sympathetic family member and that he understood his son's decision.

Theatre and television[edit | edit source]

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. 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 Yorkcompeted 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.

Ardent Productions[edit | edit source]

In 1993, Edward formed the television production company Ardent Productions. Ardent was involved in the production of a number of documentaries and dramas, but Edward was accused in the media of using his royal connections for financial gain, and the company was referred to by some industry insiders as "a sad joke" due to a perceived lack of professionalism in its operations. Andy Beckett, writing in 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".

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

Marriage[edit | edit source]

Engagement[edit | edit source]

See Engagement of Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones

The engagement of Sophie Rhys-Jones and The Prince Edward, the youngest son of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh, was announced on 6 January 1999. The couple had met six years earlier, in 1993, at a charity event, and began their relationship soon afterwards.

Marriage[edit | edit source]

See Wedding of Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones

Their wedding took place on 19 June of the same year at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, a break from the weddings of Edward's older siblings, which were large, formal events at Westminster Abbey or St Paul's Cathedral.

On the day of their marriage, The Queen declared her son would eventually be created Duke of Edinburgh, when that title merges with the Crown after both the Queen and Prince Philip die and Charles, who is the heir to his father's title as well as his mother's, has become King – Sophie would then become the Duchess of Edinburgh. Until then The Prince Edward would be Earl of Wessex and Viscount Severn, the latter title reflecting his bride's Welsh origins. Upon her marriage Rhys-Jones became Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex.

After the union, the couple moved to Bagshot Park, in Surrey.

Children[edit | edit source]

In December 2001, the Countess was taken to the King Edward VII Hospital after feeling unwell. It was discovered that she was suffering from an ectopic pregnancy and the foetus had to be removed.

Two years later, on 8 November 2003, she prematurely gave birth to her daughter, Lady Louise Alice Elizabeth Mary Mountbatten-Windsor, resulting from a sudden placental abruption that placed both mother and child at risk, and the Countess had to undergo an emergency caesarean section at Frimley Park Hospital, while the Earl of Wessex rushed back from Mauritius.

The Countess returned to Frimley Park Hospital on 17 December 2007, to give birth, again by caesarean section, to her son, James Alexander Philip Theo Mountbatten-Windsor, Viscount Severn.

Activities[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

Titles and styles[edit | edit source]

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

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, Earl Of Forfar,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][d] 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.[33] 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.[34]

As Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland for 2014,[35][36] 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[edit | edit source]

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

Orders[edit | edit source]

23 April 2006 – present[edit | edit source]
  • Royal Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter (KG)
  • 10 March 2011 – present: Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO)
2 June 2003 – 10 March 2011[edit | edit source]
  • Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO)
10 March 1989 – 2 June 2003[edit | edit source]
  • Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO)
11 May 2005 – present[edit | edit source]
  • Honorary Member of the Saskatchewan Order of Merit (SOM)

Medals[edit | edit source]

  • 6 February 1977: Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal
  • 9 February 1990: New Zealand Commemorative Medal
  • 6 February 2002: Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal
  • 7 June 2005: Commemorative Medal for the Centennial of Saskatchewan
  • 6 February 2012: Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal
  • 29 October 2015: Canadian Forces' Decoration[42]

Military appointments[edit | edit source]

Regular[edit | edit source]
  • October 1986 – January 1987: Officer Cadet, Royal Marines
Personal[edit | edit source]
  • 1 August 2004 – present: Personal Aide-de-Camp to Her Majesty The Queen (AdC(P))

Honorary military appointments[edit | edit source]

Canada[edit | edit source]
  • 2002: Colonel-in-Chief of the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment
  • 2003: Colonel-in-Chief of the Saskatchewan Dragoons
  • 2005: Colonel-in-Chief of the Prince Edward Island Regiment
  • 2007: Honorary Deputy Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
United Kingdom[edit | edit source]
  • 2003: Royal Honorary Colonel of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry
  • 2006: Commodore-in-Chief of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary
  • 2007: Royal Colonel of 2nd Battalion, The Rifles
  • 2008: Honorary Air Commodore of Royal Air Force Waddington
  • 2011: Royal Honorary Colonel of the London Regiment

Civic appointments[edit | edit source]

  • 2008: Liveryman Honoris Causa, Worshipful Company of Haberdashers
  • 2008: Liveryman Honoris Causa, Worshipful Company of Gardeners
  • 2011: Freeman of the City of London
  • 2011: Member, Court of Assistants, Worshipful Company of Haberdashers
  • 2011: Member, Court of Assistants, Worshipful Company of Gardeners
  • 2013: Master, Worshipful Company of Gardeners

Academic appointments[edit | edit source]

  • 2013 – present: Chancellor of the University of Bath

Academic degrees[edit | edit source]

  • 1991: Master of Arts, University of Cambridge
  • 1994: Honorary Doctor of Laws, University of Victoria
  • 2007: Honorary Doctor of Laws, University of Prince Edward Island
  • 2013: Honorary Doctor of Laws, University of Bath
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