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The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh - Biography

All you need to know about the Queen's youngest son and his wife

Sophie Wessex and Prince Edward at Garter Service
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Early lives

Born on March 10, 1964, Edward Antony Richard Louis graduated from Jesus College, Cambridge, with a Bachelor of Arts in 1986, and set out for a standard military tour of duty in the Royal Marines, putting his true passions, acting and the entertainment industry, temporarily on hold. But after three years, the Prince declared, "I'm not a Rambo," and set out on a year of soul-searching which culminated in a job with Lord Lloyd-Webber's Really Useful Theatre Group.

He continued his work in the arts while keeping up with his royal duties, and in October 2000 was presented with the prestigious Bette Davis Special Achievement Awards at Boston University for his work in television production. Prince Edward's Ardent Productions, established in 1993, produced a number of documentaries, including an in-depth programme on the royal family which was screened on US TV in 2002. The same year, Edward announced he was stepping down as director of production and joint managing director of the company.

The only daughter of Christopher Rhys-Jones, a car parts salesman, and charity worker Mary O'Sullivan, Sophie was born in Oxford on January 20, 1965, and attended the prestigious Kent College For Girls in Pembury. She grew up in a loving home alongside brother David at Homestead Farmhouse, a 17th-century cottage in Brenchley, Kent.

Prior to taking up royal duties full time his wife Sophie was also accomplished in her chosen career, running her own PR firm, R-JH Public Relations. In April 2001, however, she was forced to stand down as chairman of the firm after she was inadvertently caught out by a tabloid sting operation and taped making indiscreet comments about royal and political figures. A year later she announced she was resigning.


Prince Edward and Sophie on their wedding day© Pool/Tim Graham Picture Library

Edward and Sophie first met back in 1987, although at the time he was dating a friend of hers. But following their split, the future couple reunited in 1993 at a promotional shoot and love blossomed. A five-year courtship, complete with nights at the theatre and dinner at Windsor Castle, ensued. And on January 6, 1999, the Prince and Miss Sophie Rhys-Jones announced their engagement, marrying in St George's Chapel on June 19 that same year.

Prince Edward became Earl of Wessex and Viscount Severn on his marriage; his bride, the Countess of Wessex. They choose to be known as Edward Wessex and Sophie Wessex in their respective businesses.

In 2003, four years after their wedding, Edward and Sophie's dreams of beginning a family came true when the couple discovered they were expecting a baby. The news was especially significant as the Countess had suffered an ectopic pregnancy two years earlier. Their daughter, Lady Louise Alice Elizabeth Mary Mountbatten-Windsor, was born by emergency Caesarean section a month early, on November 8. Four years later, on December 17, 2007, the couple welcomed a son, James, Earl of Wessex.

Royal duties

The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh sat with Lady Louise Windor and James, Viscount Severn© GLYN KIRK

Edward became a working member of the Royal Family in  2002 during the Queen's Golden Jubilee. Together, he and his wife set up the Wessex Youth Trust in 1999, which focuses on. helping, supporting and advancing registered charities which provide opportunities specifically for children and young people.

Edward has assumed many of the roles of his father, Prince Philip, as the royal began stepping away from active service, becoming a Vice-Patron of the Commonwealth Games and taking over the Duke of Edinburgh Awards.

On 10 March 2019, Edward was granted the title of Earl of Forfar to mark his 55th birthday. Following the death of both his father and mother, it was expected that the title Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh would be granted to him and Sophie, and King Charles bestowed the titles on the pair ron Edward's 59th birthday.

The title change means that his son, James, is now known as the Earl of Wessex.

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