The Children of The Earl and Countess of Wessex

by Scott Mehl

The Children of The Earl and Countess of Wessex

The Earl and Countess of Wessex (Prince Edward and the former Sophie Rhys-Jones) have two children – Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn. Their titles and styles are often disputed. Under the terms of King George V’s Letters Patent of 1917, as grandchildren of the sovereign in the male line, they are Prince and Princess of the United Kingdom, with the style of Royal Highness. However, at the time of Edward and Sophie’s marriage, a press release was issued from Buckingham Palace. Along with announcing Prince Edward’s new title as Earl of Wessex, it stated that The Queen, with the agreement of Edward and Sophie, had decided that any children born to them should not be given the style of Royal Highness, but instead be given courtesy titles as children of an Earl. As they would already be well down the line of succession (Prince Edward was 7th in line at the time of his marriage), it is believed that this was done to alleviate some of the ‘burdens’ associated with having a royal title, and to allow them somewhat more of a normal life. However, many argue that the press release does not supersede the terms of the 1917 Letters Patent and that Louise and James are, in fact, Prince and Princess. Lady Louise and Viscount Severn live with their parents at Bagshot Park, in Surrey.

Lady Louise Windsor

Lady Louise Alice Elizabeth Mary Mountbatten-Windsor was born on November 8, 2003 at Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey. She was born prematurely and delivered by emergency cesarean section after The Countess of Wessex suffered placental abruption, which caused significant blood loss to both mother and child. Mother and daughter spent two weeks in the hospital.

Lady Louise was christened in the Private Chapel at Windsor Castle on April 24, 2004, by the Dean of Windsor. She wore a christening gown which was first made for the christening of Queen Victoria’s eldest child in 1840. It has since been worn at almost all royal christenings since. However, due to the gown’s age and delicate condition, this would be the last time it was used.

Lady Louise’s godparents:

  • Lady Alexandra Etherington, Prince Edward’s third cousin, daughter of the Duke of Fife
  • Lady Sarah Chatto, Prince Edward’s first cousin, daughter of The Princess Margaret
  • Lord Ivar Mountbatten, Prince Edward’s second cousin, son of the Marquess of Milford-Haven
  • Rupert Elliott, a friend of Prince Edward from Cambridge University
  • Francesca Schwarzenbach, a friend of Edward and Sophie

Lady Louise was born with esotropia, a condition which causes one or both eyes to turn inwards. She underwent a minor operation in 2006 and is believed to have undergone a second operation in 2013. From recent photos, it appears that the condition has been corrected. She attends St George’s School, near her grandmother’s home at Windsor Castle.

Lady Louise with her cousin, Prince Harry, at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. photo: Daily Mail/PA

Lady Louise with her cousin, Prince Harry, at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. photo: Daily Mail/PA

Lady Louise made her first big appearance on the royal stage in 2011, serving as a bridesmaid at the wedding of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. She is also seen at some larger events, such as the annual Trooping the Colour ceremonies.

 Trooping the Colour 2016

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James, Viscount Severn

James Alexander Philip Theo Mountbatten-Windsor was born on December 17, 2007 at Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey. He is the second child of the Earl and Countess of Wessex. As the eldest son of an Earl, he uses his father’s subsidiary title, Viscount Severn.  James was admitted to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London on January 24, 2008 for a minor allergic reaction and was released from the hospital in a few days.

Like his sister before him, James was christened in the Private Chapel at Windsor Castle by the Dean of Windsor on April 19, 2008. He was the first person christened wearing a new replica of the original christening gown worn by royal babies since 1840.

James’ godparents:

  • Denise Poulton, a friend of Sophie’s and trustee of the Wessex Youth Trust
  • Jeanye Erwin, Sophie’s former flat-mate
  • Alastair Bruce, 5th Baron Aberdare
  • Duncan Bullivant
  • Tom Hill

James has joined his parents on the balcony following the Trooping the Colour ceremonies and is often photographed with the family at more informal events, such as the Windsor Horse Show, and while attending church on the Sandringham Estate.

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 Buckingham Palace Balcony, June 2016