About The Earl of Wessex
The Earl of Wessex is the youngest child of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh and a full-time working member of the Royal Family. He supports Her Majesty in her official duties – often alongside his wife The Countess of Wessex - as well as undertaking public engagements for a large number of his own charities. His work has a particular focus on the development of The Duke of Edinburgh's Award, from which he has taken over many responsibilities from his father.
The Earl carries out a busy schedule of engagements in support of a large number of charities. His Royal Highness is especially passionate about organisations and causes which provide opportunities to young people.
The Duke of Edinburgh's Award
Founded by Prince Philip in 1956, The Duke of Edinburgh's Award is a flexible programme which helps young people to develop skills for life and work. The Earl of Wessex has been deeply committed to the organisation's work since achieving his own Gold Award in 1986. The following year, His Royal Highness became a UK Trustee of the charity and of the International Award Association, and was chair of its International Council for 17 years. Since 2015 The Earl has been Chairman of the Trustees of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation. In these roles, The Earl travels widely within the UK and overseas, attending events and presenting Gold Awards. In 1999, he established the International Special Projects Group, to broaden the reach of the Award, especially to young people considered to be at risk or marginalised in society.
During 2016, The Duke of Edinburgh's Award will celebrate its 60th anniversary, with The Earl of Wessex playing a leading role. Over the past six decades almost 2.5 million young people have achieved Awards. There are currently one million participants in the initiative.
The Earl and Countess of Wessex Trust
In 2019, the Wessex Youth Trust was renamed The Earl and Countess of Wessex Trust. Having met the charity’s original objective – supporting and advancing organisations which provide opportunities for children and young people - the Trust will now broaden its charitable endeavours beyond youth focused initiatives and will focus on developing strong relationships with a selected group of charities.
The Earl and Countess of Wessex founded The Wessex Youth Trust Shortly before their marriage in 1999. It offered grants and support to charities helping young people. The Trust benefited a broad cross-section of youth oriented causes, including hospitals and hospices, child protection and drug-prevention schemes, inner city drop-in centres, sex education initiatives, special educational needs libraries, sports facilities and arts groups. The Wessex Youth Trust distributed over £2.5 million to over 180 causes during its two successful decades.
Sport and the Arts
As a keen sports fan, The Earl is associated with a number of official bodies. He is Patron of Paralympics GB and Vice Patron of the Commonwealth Games Federation. He also serves as Patron of Badminton Scotland, The Tennis and Rackets Association and The International Real Tennis Professionals Association. His Royal Highness is President of the Sport and Recreation Alliance.
The Earl also has a strong personal interest in the Arts and is Patron of a number of organisations within this area. These include City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, London Mozart Players, Windsor Festival, Haddo House Choral and Operatic Society, Northern Ballet, National Youth Theatre of Great Britain, National Youth Orchestras of Scotland and The Orpheus Centre Trust. Whenever possible, His Royal Highness greatly enjoys attending plays and concerts.
The Earl of Wessex supports the work of the Armed Forces both in the United Kingdom and abroad, holding a total of eight Military appointments.
In 2007, The Earl of Wessex became Royal Colonel of 2nd Battalion The Rifles following the reorganisation of the Infantry. He regularly visits the Battalion at their base in Northern Ireland and has visited them on several occasions while on operational duties, including in Afghanistan.
His Royal Highness is Royal Honorary Colonel of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry and The London Regiment and meets servicemen and their families whenever possible.
In 2006, The Earl was appointed Commodore-in-Chief of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and in 2008, Honorary Air Commodore of Royal Air Force Waddington.
The Earl holds three military positions in Canada, as Colonel-in-Chief of the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment, the Prince Edward Island Regiment and the Saskatchewan Dragoons.
The Earl was born at Buckingham Palace on 10 March 1964, and later baptised Edward Antony Richard Louis. Until his marriage in 1999, he was known as Prince Edward.
Educated at Heatherdown Preparatory School in Berkshire, and Gordonstoun School in Scotland, Prince Edward took part in a range of school sports and outdoor pursuits, gaining a Gold Duke of Edinburgh's Award. With A-levels in History, English Literature and Economic and Political Studies, he went on to study History at Jesus College, Cambridge, graduating in 1986.
Prince Edward spent three years in the Royal Marines as a University Cadet, but left the armed forces after graduation to pursue a career in theatre production. This included a period working for Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Theatre Company.
His Royal Highness also developed a keen interest in television production, writing and narrating two films about The Duke of Edinburgh's Award, which were broadcast in 1987 by the BBC. In 1993, Prince Edward formed his own company, Ardent Productions, which made films including Edward on Edward and Crown and Country.
In 2002, His Royal Highness announced that he would focus full-time on supporting The Queen, during Her Majesty's Golden Jubilee year and beyond. This work has included playing a leading role in the development of The Duke of Edinburgh's Award, as chair of the organisation's International Council. The Earl also supports a range of charities and other organisations, spanning the arts, sport and entrepreneurship, amongst other fields.
Prince Edward met his future wife, Sophie Rhys-Jones, at a Real Tennis event in 1993. The couple announced their engagement in January 1999 and wed at St George's Chapel, Windsor, in June of the same year. On the day of the wedding, it was announced that The Queen had conferred upon Prince Edward the title The Earl of Wessex. Miss Rhys-Jones became known as Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex. In March 2019, The Queen decided to grant The Earl of Wessex the additional title of Earl of Forfar. Their Royal Highnesses use the title The Earl and Countess of Forfar when in Scotland.
The Earl and Countess have two children: Lady Louise, who was born on 8 November 2003, and James, Viscount Severn, who was born on 17 December 2007. The family live at Bagshot Park in Berkshire.
In his spare time, The Earl enjoys theatre, music, sailing, gardening and Real Tennis.
Supporting The Queen
The Earl of Wessex supports The Queen in her role as Head of State by representing Her Majesty at events in the UK and abroad, as well as attending state and ceremonial occasions alongside other members of the Royal Family.
The Earl attends a number of important annual occasions, such as Trooping the Colour and Remembrance Day at the Cenotaph in central London. He also greatly enjoys meeting guests at summer Garden Parties, held at Buckingham Palace and the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh.
His Royal Highness has frequently undertaken overseas tours and visits, both in support of The Queen and related to his own charitable initiatives. On the occasion of The Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 2012, The Earl and Countess of Wessex toured the Caribbean, visiting Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Gibraltar, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago. More recently, in September 2014, The Earl and Countess travelled to Canada, visiting British Columbia and Saskatchewan; while in February 2015 Their Royal Highnesses visited Finland.
The Earl is proud to support the work of the Armed Forces, both in the United Kingdom and overseas. In December 2011, accompanied by The Countess of Wessex, he visited British personnel at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan. Earlier, in September 2009 His Royal Highness travelled to Sangin in Afghanistan, to visit soldiers from 2nd Battalion, The Rifles, of which The Earl is Royal Colonel.
Additionally, The Earl has on many occasions represented Her Majesty at funerals and weddings of national and international significance.
Charities and Patronages
Royal Exchange Theatre CompanyWebsite: www.royalexchange.co.uk
Theatre company based in Manchester.Region: UK (England)Members of the Royal Family:The Earl of Wessex, Patron
Royal Fleet AuxiliaryWebsite: www.royal-navy.mod.uk
Component of the Naval Service whose main function is to supply the Royal Navy with fuel and supplies.Region: UK-wideMembers of the Royal Family:The Earl of Wessex, Commodore in Chief
Royal Fleet Auxiliary AssociationWebsite: www.rfa-association.org
Organisation for serving and retired personnel of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.Region: UK-wideMembers of the Royal Family:The Earl of Wessex, Patron
Royal Ulster Agricultural SocietyWebsite: www.royal.uk
BUSNS, AGRIC,Region: UK (Northern Ireland)Members of the Royal Family:The Earl of Wessex, Patron
Royal Wessex YeomanryWebsite: www.army.mod.uk
Armoured regiment of the Territorial Army.Region: UK-wideMembers of the Royal Family:The Earl of Wessex, Royal Honorary Colonel
Royal Windsor Horse ShowWebsite: www.royal-windsor-horse-show.co.uk
Annual equestrian show held in Windsor Great Park.Region: UK (England)Members of the Royal Family:The Princess Royal, Royal Vice President
The Earl of Wessex, Royal Vice President
The Countess of Wessex, Royal Vice President
Her Majesty The Queen, Patron
Saskatchewan DragoonsWebsite: www.army.dnd.ca
Unit of the Canadian Army.Region: CanadaMembers of the Royal Family:The Earl of Wessex, Colonel In Chief
Sport and Recreation AllianceWebsite: www.sportandrecreation.org.uk
Representative body for national sports organisations in the UK.Region: UK-wideMembers of the Royal Family:The Earl of Wessex, President
Strathmore Community Rugby TrustWebsite: www.royal.uk
to advance public participation in sport, in particular rugby union and rugby leagueRegion: UK (Scotland)Members of the Royal Family:The Earl of Wessex, Patron
The Association of the Friends of Lincoln CathedralWebsite: www.lincolncathedral.com
Fund-raising organisation working for the conservation of Lincoln's ancient cathedral.Region: UK (England)Members of the Royal Family:The Earl of Wessex, Honorary Member