by Susan Flantzer
Edward Antony Richard Louis was born on March 10, 1964 at Buckingham Palace. He is the last of the four children of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (born a Prince of Greece and Denmark). Edward was part of a baby boom the British Royal Family was having in 1964. Also born that year were James Ogilvy, son of Princess Alexandra of Kent, February 29, 1964; Lady Helen Windsor, daughter of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, April 28, 1964; and Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones, daughter of Princess Margaret on May 1, 1964.
Edward was baptized on May 2, 1964 in the Private Chapel at Windsor Castle. His godparents were:
- Prince Richard of Gloucester, now the Duke of Gloucester, his mother’s first cousin
- Katharine, Duchess of Kent, wife of his mother’s first cousin for whom Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, his mother’s aunt by marriage, stood proxy as Katharine had given birth four days earlier
- Princess George William of Hanover, born Princess Sophie of Greece and Denmark, his paternal aunt
- Prince Louis of Hesse and by Rhine, his paternal first cousin twice removed
- Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon, his maternal uncle by marriage
Edward was educated privately by a governess before attending Gibbs School in Kensington, London, England for a year. In 1972, he began to attend Heatherdown School in Winkfield, Berkshire, England. Edward then moved on to Gordonstoun School in Moray, Scotland, which his father and elder brothers had also attended. During his last term at Gordonstoun, Edward was Head Boy.
Starting in September of 1982, Edward worked as a house tutor during his gap year at the Wanganui Collegiate School in Wanganui, New Zealand. While at the school he taught English and History and supervised other activities, including Drama and Duke of Edinburgh’s Award expeditions. Edward then studied history at Jesus College, University of Cambridge, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1986. While at university, he enjoyed theater, taking part in a number of productions, and sports, including learning to play real tennis.
After leaving university, Edward joined the Royal Marines. However, in January of 1987, he dropped out of the year-long officer training after completing only four months. Reportedly, his father, the Duke of Edinburgh, was angered by the decision and Edward took some criticism from the media.
Edward then pursued a career in theatrical production working for Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Theatre Company as a production assistant on musicals such as The Phantom of the Opera, Starlight Express, and Cats.
In 1993, Edward formed Ardent Productions, a television production company. Programs included Edward on Edward, a documentary on his great-uncle, King Edward VIII (later the Duke of Windsor); thirty half-hour programs of Crown and Country: A Royal History of Britain; The Cater Street Hangman, a dramatization of Anne Perry’s first mystery novel; and Windsor Restored, a program on the restoration of Windsor Castle after the fire in 1993. Edward was accused in the media of using his royal connections for financial gains and his professionalism was also questioned. In September of 2001, an Ardent production crew invaded the privacy of Prince William, Edward’s nephew, while he was at the University of St Andrews, ignoring the guidelines regarding the privacy of the royal family. Reportedly, Prince Charles was angered by this incident. Edward’s productions were received well in the United States (this American writer, Susan, saw them all and enjoyed them) and the program about Edward VIII sold well in many countries. However, Ardent Productions reported losses for each year of its existence except one. In June of 2009, the company was liquidated with assets of £40.
In 1993, Edward renewed a casual acquaintance with Sophie Rhys-Jones at a Real Tennis Challenge, hosted by the Prince. Sophie, the public relations executive handling the event, was reportedly charmed by the youngest of the Queen’s sons, and he with her. After a long courtship, their engagement was announced on January 6, 1999.
The wedding was a smaller affair, unlike the large, formal weddings of Edward’s brothers, Charles and Andrew. On June 19, 1999, Edward and Sophie were married at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. There were only about 550 guests, far fewer than at the weddings of Charles and Andrew, but an estimated 200 million viewers from around the world watched on television. For more information on the wedding, see Unofficial Royalty: Wedding of Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones.
On his wedding day, Edward was created Earl of Wessex and Viscount Severn, breaking with the tradition of a dukedom granted to the son of the Sovereign upon marriage. However, it was announced that Prince Edward will eventually be granted the Dukedom of Edinburgh, currently his father’s title, at such time when it has reverted back to the Crown. Edward and Sophie also decided, with The Queen’s agreement, that their children would use the courtesy titles as sons or daughters of an Earl rather than the style and title His/Her Royal Highness Prince or Princess. The couple have two children, who are indeed styled as children of an Earl:
Edward has a busy schedule of engagements in the United Kingdom and overseas both in support of The Queen and the large number of charities and organizations with which he is involved. He has taken on many roles from his father, the Duke of Edinburgh, who has reduced some commitments because of his age, such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. For more information of the Earl of Wessex’s work, see these areas from the Official Website of the British Monarchy: Earl of Wessex Public Role and Earl of Wessex: The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.
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