PRINCE EDWARD, the Earl of Wessex, is often overlooked in the Royal Family, as the youngest child of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip is far down the line of succession. Did you know about his successful career?
Prince Edward’s career currently mirrors those of the rest of the working royals, as both he and his wife participate in royal duties. The couple celebrated their 21st wedding anniversary this month, and participate in many of their duties together. Before they met, both of them had very different jobs, however, which may surprise royal fans.
When Prince Edward left Cambridge University in 1986, he embarked on a career in the entertainment industry, initially in the theatre.
He served as a Production Assistant for Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s Really Useful Theatre Company before trying his hand at television production.
The Prince established Ardent Productions, which created dramas and documentaries, and was one of his longest-surviving projects.
His most successful feature with the company was a documentary about his late great-uncle the Duke of Windsor, which sold worldwide and was well-received in the US.
Despite its international success, it was not well received in the UK, with viewers critical of the quality of Ardent Productions’ shows.
Writing for The Guardian, Andy Beckett said watching the company’s features was “entering a strange kingdom”.
He said: “To watch Ardent’s few dozen hours of broadcast output is to enter a strange kingdom where every man in Britain still wears a tie, where pieces to camera are done in cricket jumpers, where people clasp their hands behind their backs like guardsmen.
He added: “Commercial breaks are filled with army recruiting advertisements”.
Prince Edward stayed on with the company until 2002, 11 years after he founded Ardent Productions.
Seven years later it was dissolved, with assets selling for as little as £40.
The Earl met his wife, the Countess of Wessex, at a charity event while he was still involved with Ardent Productions in 1993.
Then Sophie Rhys-Jones, she also had an enterprising spirit and set up her own PR agency, RJH Public Relations, in 1996.
She worked with the company for six years, after which she focussed on royal duties alongside Prince Edward.
Both have since picked up a variety of patronages, and have set up a trust together.
Edward’s duties include patronising the Duke of Edinburgh Award, Paralympics GB and the Commonwealth Games Federation.
The Countess of Wessex is a vice patron of the Royal Bath and West Show, Vision 2020: The Right to Sight and Global Ambassador for the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness amongst others.
Together, the couple has founded the Earl and Countess of Wessex Trust, which has a focus on young people.
According to Royal.uk, the couple founded the charity before their marriage in 1999.
The site states: “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.”