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The Earl of Wessex’s arts patronages

By yatearmadillo -, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

With a strong passion for the theatre, it’s no wonder the Earl of Wessex has chosen to support a number of charities, performing arts groups, and festivals in the arts world.

The Queen’s youngest child performed in various theatre productions during his Cambridge days and went on to have a career of his own in the entertainment industry. Before becoming a full-time working royal, Edward landed a job as a production assistant for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Theatre Company, working on famous musicals such as The Phantom of the Opera and Cats and then formed his own TV production company called Ardent Productions.

To support his involvement with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, many of his patronages in the arts world also tie in with the earl’s interest in the development of young people.

Let’s take a look at five of the Earl of Wessex’s performing arts patronages.

Creative Youth

The Earl of Wessex serves as President of Creative Youth, a charity that aims to enable young people to realise their potential through the arts.

Their work is focused on Kingston and its surrounding areas, especially reaching out to vulnerable young people to get them involved in the arts. Creative Youth also runs the annual International Youth Arts Festival, the leading youth arts festival in the UK, which the earl has attended regularly.

Edward said of the project, “The International Youth Arts Festival is one of those brilliant little dreams that has just kept growing and inspiring others to dream. Kingston should not be surprised, but suitably proud, that it has created just the right space and encouragement to allow such a fantastic array of youthful talent to flourish as well as enabling a brilliant showcase so that others can enjoy it.”

Edinburgh International Festival

This internationally renowned performing arts festival, held in Scotland’s capital for three weeks every August, is one of the Earl of Wessex’s newer patronages. He took over the role from The Queen in 2017, who had held the position since her accession to the throne in 1952. Previously, the role of patron was held by Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother.

The event brings together dance, opera, music and theatre performers from around the world and is a major tourist draw for the city of Edinburgh each summer.

Although the 2020 festival has been cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis, we should expect to see the earl return to the festival in future years.

The London Mozart Players

Founded in 1949, the London Mozart Players are one of the world’s finest chamber ensembles and the only professional orchestra in the UK to be managed both operationally and artistically by the players.

The Earl of Wessex has served as patron since 1988 and frequently attends performances by the Players.

In June 2016, the Earl and Countess of Wessex attended a celebratory royal concert performed by the London Mozart Players in honour of The Queen’s 90th birthday, and in 2019, the Players celebrated their 70th birthday.

The Earl of Wessex took an active role in the orchestra’s birthday year, visiting during the refurbishment of the Fairfield Halls arts centre (which was opened by Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother in 1962) and attending the gala opening concert in September 2019 once Fairfield Halls officially reopened.

The National Youth Orchestras of Scotland

The National Youth Orchestras of Scotland (NYOS) provides students from the ages of eight to 25 with a complete orchestral experience, including orchestras, jazz bands, training ensembles, and outreach programmes. NYOS also brings musical experiences to young people across Scotland through community workshops.

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Known as the Earl of Forfar in Scotland, Edward has served as patron of NYOS for decades and supported them in various capacities, including hosting celebrations at the Palace of Holyroodhouse such as their 25th-anniversary dinner in 2004.

Northern Ballet

Based in Leeds, Northern Ballet is one of the UK’s leading dance companies and tours with ballets inspired by classical dance, theatre, popular culture, literature, and opera.

Princess Margaret, a keen supporter of the ballet, served as Northern Ballet’s royal patron until her death in 2002. The Earl of Wessex has served as their patron since 2003 and attended many performances, such as the 2001 adaptation Of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” at The New Victoria Theatre, Woking, pictured below.

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Learn more about the Earl of Wessex’s many patronages on the Royal Family’s website.

About author

Kristin is Chief Reporter for Royal Central and has been following the British royal family for more than 30 years. Kristin has appeared in UK and U.S. media outlets discussing the British royals including BBC Breakfast, BBC World News, Sky News, the Associated Press, TIME, The Washington Post, and many others.