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 supercede the terms of the 1917 LPs, 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.
She 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 its age and delicate condition, this would be the last time the gown is used. Lady Louise’s godparents are:
- 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.
She made her first big appearance on the royal stage in 2011, serving as a flower girl 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.
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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.
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 be christening wearing a new replica of the original christening gown worn by several generations of royal babies since 1840. His godparents are:
- 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 Abderdare
- Duncan Bullivant
- Tom Hill
James has joined his parents on the balcony following the Trooping the Colour ceremonies for the last several years, 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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