9 things you may not know about Prince Edward – including his gap year in NZ

The youngest of the Queen's children turns 55!
Prince Edward at the commonwealth games 2018

He’s the Queen and Prince Philip’s youngest child and arguably the most low-key royal out his siblings.

On March 10 Prince Edward celebrated his 55th birthday – we reveal nine facts you may not know about the Earl of Wessex.

1. The Prince’s title breaks from royal tradition

Born on March 10, 1964 at Buckingham Palace, Prince Edward is the Queen’s third son, which made him third in line for the throne when he was born, ahead of older sister Princess Anne.

He now is tenth-in-line to the throne and following the birth of Baby Sussex, he’ll become 11th.

On the day of his marriage he was bestowed the title of Earl of Wessex and Viscount Severn – which breaks from the tradition that sons of the sovereign are given a dukedom.

It’s been reported that when his father Prince Philip and mother Queen Elizabeth pass, both Philip and The Queen wish for him to take on his father’s dukedom to become the Duke of Edinburgh.

Four-year-old Prince Andrew with Queen Elizabeth and a newborn Prince Edward. (Image: Getty)

2. He took a gap year in New Zealand

The royals aren’t strangers to New Zealand, with several members visiting Aotearoa multiple times, most recently Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan last year.

But there’s one royal in particular who has gone beyond a fleeting visit – even calling NZ home. That’s right, following Prince Edward’s graduation from high school in 1982, the young prince took a gap year (or more accurately a six-month OE) in Whanganui in the North Island.

Edward spent two terms working as a house tutor and junior master at the Whanganui Collegiate School, even welcoming his older brother Prince Charles and sister-in-law Princess Diana when they visited Whanganui during their royal tour of New Zealand.

Prince Edward greets his brother Prince Charles and sister-in-law Princess Diana in April 1983 on the grounds of Whanganui Collegiate in Whanganui, New Zealand where he worked as a tutor. (Image: Getty)

3. He had a career in theatre and ran his own production company

Prince Edward has a great love for theatre and participated in productions during his years at Cambridge University. Following a short stint in the Royal Marines, the Prince dropped out to start a career in entertainment.

He worked as a production assistant for the renowned Andrew Lloyd Webber at his theatre company, Really Useful Theatre Company, working on musicals such as The Phantom of the Opera, Starlight Express and Cats.

In 1993, the Queen’s youngest son formed his own television production company, Ardent Productions, and produced various documentaries and dramas.

4. He wanted a low-key wedding

Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones, who had been executive of her own public relations firm, had been together almost five years when Edward proposed, with the engagement announced on January 6, 1999.

In comparison to his older siblings, Edward chose to have a much more understated wedding, marrying Sophie in St George’s Chapel on June 19, 1999, rather than Westminster Abbey or St Paul’s Cathedral. It is the same venue his nephew Prince Harry married Duchess Meghan and his niece Princess Eugenie married Jack Brooksbank last year.

Despite the wish for a low-key affair, it was still watched by 200 million people, and the streets were lined with well-wishers trying to catch a glimpse of the newlyweds.

He’s the only child of the Queens’ who hasn’t been divorced.

Prince Andrew and Countess Sophie of Wessex on their wedding day. (Image: Getty)

5. He was invited to star in iconic British sci-fi TV show Doctor Who

It was revealed that Prince Edward had been invited to take part in a three-part 25th anniversary special for the iconic sci-fi TV show Doctor Who in 1988, however he declined the offer.

In a letter dated March 28, 1988, the Prince’s equerry Lieutenant-Colonel Sean O’Dwyer wrote:

“Thank you for your letter of March 25 in which you invite Prince Edward to take part in a special three-part story of Doctor Who.

“His Royal Highness was most interested to hear about this and much appreciates your kind thought in asking him.

“However, Prince Edward regrets that, sadly, it is not possible for him to do as you ask.”

6. He’s now a full time royal

In 2002, the year of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, the Prince stepped down as production director and joint managing director of Ardent to take up a full-time royal role.

Since achieving a Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award in 1986, Prince Edward has had a deep commitment to his father’s youth awards programme and has since taken on his father’s role, since Prince Philip’s retirement, attending events and presenting Gold Awards across the world.

Passionate about sports and the arts, Prince Edward is associated with a number of official sports bodies including being Patron of Paralympics GB and Vice Patron of the Commonwealth Game Federation. He also acts as the royal Patron for the National Youth Theatre of Britain, National Youth Orchestras of Scotland.

7. He has two children, Lady Louise and James, Vicount Severn

Two years after they married, Prince Edward and Countess Sophie were devastated when Sophie suffered an ectopic pregnancy.

In November 2003, after an emergency Caesarean, the royal couple welcomed their first child, Lady Louise, now 15, who was born six weeks prematurely.

Four years later, James, Viscount Severn, now 11-years-old, was born. He is Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s youngest grandchild.

Prince Edward with his wife Countess Sophie of Wessex and his two children Lady Louise and James, Viscount Severn attending a Christmas Day Church service in 2018. (Image: Getty)

8. The Prince holds four degrees

Prince Edward graduated from Cambridge University with a Bachelor of Arts in History in 1986 and also holds two honorary degrees from the University of Victoria and the University of Prince Edward Island.

As the Chancellor of the University of Bath, he holds an honorary doctorate in Law.

9. He holds various honorary military appointments too

Despite not having a military career like his brothers, Prince Charles and Prince Andrew, Prince Edward has numerous honorary military appointments in the UK and the Commonwealth.

These include: Colonel of the London Regiment; Royal Honorary Colonel of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry; Royal Colonel, 2nd Battalion The Rifles; Honorary Deputy Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police; and Colonel-in-Chief, Prince Edward Island Regiment.

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