Who is Prince Edward? Queen's son inherits Duke of Edinburgh title

·7-min read
Prince Edward. (Getty Images)
Prince Edward was previously the Earl of Wessex, pictured at the National Youth Theatre Annual Fundraising Gala in London, 7 March, 2023. (Getty Images)

Prince Edward has been named as the new Duke of Edinburgh by his older brother King Charles, according to Buckingham Palace.

The Earl of Wessex, who turns 59 today, will now hold the title – that previously belonged to Prince Philip – for life.

His father, who passed away in 2021, received the dukedom himself on the day of his wedding to the late Queen in 1947.

The new duke's wife Sophie, 58, the former Countess of Wessex, will also now be known as the Duchess of Edinburgh, according to a statement.

The announcement also explained that The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh will "continue Prince Philip’s legacy of promoting opportunities for young people of all backgrounds to reach their full potential."

Read more: Should Queen Consort Camilla be given the title of Queen?

It was understood that the former duke wanted his youngest son to inherit the title, but ultimately the decision was in the King's hands.

Who is Prince Edward?

The prince was born in 1964 at Buckingham Palace, and is the youngest of the Queen’s four children.

He is currently 13th in line to the throne after Princess Eugenie's son August Brooksbank.

The Queen Elizabeth II poses with Prince Edward, 13 June 1964 in London.
The late Queen with her youngest son shortly after his birth in 1964. (Getty Images)

Like his father and his older siblings, the prince attended Gordonstoun School in Scotland, before reading history at Jesus College in Cambridge.

The royals have a long history with the military, and he also went into service – spending three years in the Royal Marines as a University Cadet.

Read more: How the royals tackle parenting

Next, the prince began a career in theatre production, including for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Theatre Company.

He also worked in TV, writing and narrating two films about the Duke of Edinburgh award, which were broadcast in the late 1980s.

Prince Edward and Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother attend the Badminton Horse Trials on April 10, 1976 in Badminton, England
The young prince and his grandmother, the Queen Mother, at the Badminton Horse Trials in 1976. (Getty Images)
The Queen as she explains the details of the Trooping the Colour to her youngest son Prince Edward at Buckingham Palace. circa date 1972.
The Queen explains the details of the Trooping the Colour to him at Buckingham Palace in 1972. (Getty Images)

In 1993, the prince formed Ardent Productions, which made films including Edward on Edward, where he discusses his great-uncle Edward VIII, the late Duke of Windsor.

However, the company had a rocky path, and was involved in a privacy issue with Prince William during his time at St Andrew’s University in Scotland.

His older brother, then Prince Charles, was said to be furious after a two-man crew tried to film the prince despite an agreement that he could study without intrusion.

Go carting is a sport usually for one person at a time, but in the secluded grounds of the family home at Windsor, Prince Charles takes his younger brother Prince Edward for a spin in this photograph.
Prince Charles takes his younger brother Prince Edward for a spin around the grounds of Windsor Castle. (Getty Images)

Shortly after that incident, the prince is believed to have agreed to stop making films about the Royal Family.

In March 2002, the Queen’s Jubilee year, he stepped back as production director and joint managing director of the company in order to focus on his royal duties.

Who is Sophie, former Countess of Wessex?

Sophie, nee Rhys-Jones, was born in Oxford in 1965, but her family moved to Kent where she went to school and college.

The new Duchess of Edinburgh had a relatively normal upbringing – her father was a tyre salesman and her mother was a secretary.

She worked for several years as a public relations executive before setting up her own firm.

Sophie Rhys-Jones waterskiing in Cowes, Isle of Wight , on July 1, 1994 in Cowes,England.
Sophie Rhys-Jones waterskiing in Cowes, Isle of Wight in 1994. (Getty Images)

Sophie was caught up in a scandal in 2001 after she was reportedly duped by a News of the World reporter who was posing as an Arab sheikh.

However, Buckingham Palace denied reports she had insulted the Royal Family during an interview.

She stepped back from her role in her firm in 2002 and has been a working royal ever since.

Sophie Rhys-jones And Prince Edward On The Day Of Their Engagement.
The couple announced their engagement in 1999. (Getty Images)

Before her wedding to Edward, The Sun printed topless photos of her with her former colleague Chris Tarrant, which were taken in 1988 while they were on a business trip to Spain.

The paper printed a full page apology and denied they had acted with “deliberate cruelty” when they printed the photo.

How did Edward and Sophie meet?

The prince met Sophie Rhys-Jones in 1993 at a Real Tennis tournament.

They dated for several years before announcing their engagement in 1999, and married at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle the same year.

Wedding Of Prince Edward And Sophie Rhys-jones.
They married in Windsor in 1999. (Getty Images)

It was a departure from the royal weddings of his older siblings, which had been held in London, at either Westminster Abbey or St Paul’s Cathedral.

After their wedding, they went to Balmoral Castle for their honeymoon and have lived at Bagshot Park in Surrey since then.

Why are they called Earl and Countess, not Duke and Duchess?

On the occasion of their marriage, the Queen gave them the royal titles of the Earl of Wessex and the Countess of Wessex.

They were given the Earldom of Forfar, in March 2019, which they used when in Scotland, as royal couples usually have a separate title there. Edward will keep this title, but will instead use the Duke of Edinburgh because it is the more senior Scottish title.

Prince Edward of England and Countess Sophie of Wessex attend the wedding ceremony of Prince Guillaume of Luxembourg and Princess Stephanie of Luxembourg at the Cathedral of our Lady of Luxembourg in Luxembourg. (Photo by Stephane Cardinale/Corbis via Getty Images)
They initially remained in their own careers but moved into royal work. (Getty Images)

The prince was the only one of the Queen's sons not to be given a dukedom because it was always intended that he would inherit the Duke of Edinburgh title once his father had passed.

Who are their children?

The duke and duchess have two children, Lady Louise Windsor and James, the Viscount Severn, who is the new Earl of Wessex. The new dukedom title will not be passed down to James when Edward dies, as it may be given to one of the Prince and Princess of Wales’ children.

Louise was born in November 2003 in Frimley, Surrey. She was premature, and her father was in Mauritius when she arrived as it was not expected the countess would give birth so soon.

Britain's Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, (2L) and his wife Britain's Sophie, Countess of Wessex, (R) arrive with their children Britain's Lady Louise Windsor (2L) and James, Viscount Severn for the wedding ceremony of Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and US actress Meghan Markle at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, in Windsor, on May 19, 2018. (Photo by Chris Jackson / POOL / AFP)        (Photo credit should read CHRIS JACKSON/AFP via Getty Images)
The couple have two children, Louise and James. (Getty Images)

She was born with a rare eye condition which caused one eye to point inwards, and has had surgery twice, with her vision eventually corrected in 2013.

James was born in December 2007 at the same hospital as his sister. He was the first royal baby to wear the newly made royal christening gown.

Their children are not styled as His or Her Royal Highness and are not prince or princess.

Where do they live?

The family lives in Bagshot Park, in Surrey, set in Windsor Great Park.

Their 120-room home, and its accompanying 51 acres has a varied history and was once the home of Prince Arthur, one of Queen Victoria’s sons.

It is very close to Windsor Castle and the duchess previously revealed how convenient it was to be close to the late Queen.

Queen Elizabeth II with Sophie, Countess of Wessex and Lady Louise Windsor attend the Royal Windsor Horse show in the private grounds of Windsor Castle on May 15, 2015 in Windsor, England.
The late Queen with Sophie, Countess of Wessex and Lady Louise Windsor at the Royal Windsor Horse show in 2015. (Getty Images)
Sophie, Countess of Wessex, James, Viscount Severn, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and Princess Anne, Princess Royal Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh after the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England.
The countess with James, Viscount Severn, the late Queen, Prince Edward, Prince Philip and Princess Anne, at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding. (Getty Images)

It’s rare to catch a glimpse inside the country mansion, but with royals working from home during the coronavirus pandemic, there were some shots shared.

In one video, the countess sat in a grand room with carefully placed photographs behind her, and in another she stood in front of a bookshelf filled with board games.

What do they do?

Prior to his new title, the prince's main role in the Royal Family has been looking after the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme, which was set up by his father in 1956.

He achieved his gold award in 1986, became a trustee the year after, and has been chairman of the trustees since 2015.

Queen Elizabeth II and The Countess of Wessex attend a church service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, Norfolk.
The royal mother-of-two was close with the late monarch. (Getty Images)

Meanwhile, his wife has several royal patronages and spends much of her time working with these and visiting them.

Together, they run The Earl and Countess of Wessex Trust, which was renamed from the Wessex Youth Trust in 2019.

Sophie, Countess of Wessex talks to Asmaa (R) aged 25, and her daughters Sidra, aged 6 (3rd L) and Nisrine, aged 4 (2nd L) on a visit to an informal tented settlement, during the first official Royal visit to the country, on June 12, 2019 in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. The Countess of Wessex announced her commitment to supporting the UK's efforts in the Women, Peace and Security agenda (WPS), and the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative (PSVI) earlier this year.
Sophie works as a full-time royal (Getty Images)

It was founded in 1999 and offers grants and supports charities dealing with a huge range of issues, including child protection and drug-prevention schemes, inner city drop-in centres, sex education initiatives and special educational needs libraries.

They have also completed royal tours abroad and conduct engagements around the UK, and are regularly seen with other royals at important events like Trooping the Colour.

Watch: Prince Edward given late father's Duke of Edinburgh title