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Taking a look at the life of the Earl of Wessex on his birthday

His Royal Highness Prince Edward Antony Richard Louis was born on 10 March 1964 in Buckingham Palace. His Royal Highness is the third son and youngest child of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. His older siblings are the Prince of Wales, the Princess Royal and the Duke of York. He is currently ninth in line to the British throne but will be bumped down to tenth one the Duchess of Cambridge gives birth to her and the Duke of Cambridge’s third child in April 2018.

The Prince was later baptised on 2 May 1964 in the private chapel at Windsor Castle by Robin Woods, the then Dean of Windsor. His godparents were Prince Richard of Gloucester, the Duchess of Kent, Prince George William of Hanover, the Prince of Hesse and by Rhine and the Earl of Snowdon.

The Royal Family on the cover of a Yugoslavian magazine in 1972. Photo: Domain/Wikimedia Commons

During his upbringing, a governess was appointed to look after him during his early education at Buckingham Palace. The Earl of Wessex, at the age of seven, was sent to Gibbs School. He later attended Heatherdown school near Ascot in Berkshire.

Additionally, following in his father’s and elder brothers’ footsteps, Edward would later be educated at Gordonstoun in Northern Scotland where he was appointed head boy during his last term. His Royal Highness obtained C-grade and D-grade in his A-levels.

The Earl of Wessex spent a gap year abroad working as a tutor and junior master for two terms in September 1982 at the Wanganui Collegiate School in New Zealand.

Prince Edward pictured with his parents and one of his older brothers, Prince Andrew in Brisbane, Australia. Photo: Brisbane City Council/CC BY 2.0/Wikimedia Commons

Once he returned to Great Britain, Prince Edward enrolled at Jesus College, Cambridge where he studied history. There was a bit of controversy at the time since his A-level grades were below the standard commonly used to enrol at Cambridge or Oxford. His Royal Highness still managed to graduate with a B.A in 1986 and proceeded to a Master of Arts in 1991.

It should be noted that the Prince was sponsored by the Royal Marines with £12,000 towards his tuition at Cambridge University on condition of future service. So upon leaving the university, the Earl of Wessex joined the Royal Marines. Edward opted to drop out of training after completing just one-third of the 12-month training to enter the entertainment industry. Some media houses announced that his action made Prince Philip reduce him to prolonged tears, and others claimed that his father was the most sympathetic family member and that he understood his son’s decision.

Prince Edward commissioned the 1986 musical Cricket from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice for his mother’s 60th birthday celebration. This move led to a job offer at Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Theatre Company where he worked as a production assistant on musicals namely: Cats, Starlight Express and The Phantom of the Opera.

Edward’s first push into television production was the programme The Grand Knockout Tournament informally known as It’s a Royal Knockout on 15 June 1987. There, four teams sponsored by him including the Duke and Duchess of York, and Princess Anne competed for charity, as well. His mother, The Queen was not in favour of his move, and her courtiers had all advised against it.

The Earl of Wessex formed a production company known as Ardent Production in 1993. Edward was accused in the media of using his royal connections for financial gain. It was referred to as a sad joke because industry insiders believed it had no professionalism in its operations. However, this wasn’t the case in the United States of America where it was better received.

Edward produced a documentary about his great-uncle Edward VIII in 1996 which sold well worldwide. Later on, it was reported that the company incurred losses every year it operated that Prince Edward did not draw a salary.

His brother, Prince Charles was angered by an incident that an Ardent two-man crew invaded the privacy of his elder son, Prince William in September 2001 when he was studying at the University of St Andrews. In March 2002, Prince Edward announced that he would step down from the entertainment industry to concentrate on his public duties and to support The Queen during her Golden Jubilee year. Ardent Production Company was dissolved in June 2009.

The Earl and Countess of Wessex at Trooping the Colour in 2013. Photo: Carfax2/CC BY-SA 3.0/Wikimedia Commons

The Earl of Wessex met Sophie Rhys-Jones who was then a public relations executive with her own firm in 1994. The royal couple announced their engagement on 6 January 1999. His Royal Highness proposed with an Asprey and Garrard engagement ring worth an estimated £105,000; set in 18-carat white gold, the ring included a two-carat oval diamond flanked by two heart shaped gemstones.

Their wedding took place at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on 19 June 1999. On the couple’s wedding day, Prince Edward was created Earl of Wessex with the subsidiary title of Viscount Severn, breaking tradition whereby sons of sovereign were established as royal dukes. His wife, Sophie, assumed the female version of his titles and is referred to as the Countess of Wessex.

Prince Edward and his wife have two children: Lady Louise Windsor (b. 8 November 2003) and James, Viscount Severn (b.17 December 2007). As the grandchildren in the male line, Louise and James were allowed to be titled as Prince/Princess. However, their parents elected to have them styled as the children of an earl instead. The family lives at Bagshot Park in Surrey.

It is believed that Edward will be elevated from the rank of Earl to Duke of Edinburgh and after that dukedom held by Prince Philip. This should happen after the death of the current Duke of Edinburgh.

The Prince succeeded his father, Prince Philip as the President of the Commonwealth Games Federation. He has also taken over the role in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards attending Gold Award ceremonies across the globe.

His mother appointed him as Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland for 2014. As Lord High Commissioner, he is entitled to be styled as His Grace The Lord High Commissioner from 17–23 May (during the week of the General Assembly).

His Royal Highness is a Knight Order of the Garter (KG), Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO), Canadian Forces Decoration (CD) and personal aide-de-camp (ADC(P)).

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