Thursday, March 10, 2011

Happy Birthday Your Royal Highness

The birth of the Queen's youngest child at Buckingham Palace on this day in 1964 was greeted with the then-usual tizzy of excitement by the British Press in what now seems like a halcyon time; 1964 produced a bumper crop of royal babies, beginning with James Ogilvy on Leap Year Day and concluding with Lady Helen Taylor at the end of April and Lady Sarah Chatto (the daughter of Princess Margaret) three days later on May Day.

PhotobucketThe fourth child and third son of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, after the age of seven Prince Edward was schooled outside the Palace, at Gibbs School in Kensington; he later attended Heatherdown Preparatory School near Ascot and the dreaded Gordonstoun School in Scotland. After a gap year at Collegiate School in Wanganui, New Zealand, he went to Jesus College at Cambridge, where he became only the fourth member of the Royal Family to earn a university degree.

Enlisted in the Royal Marines in 1987, he later dropped out (in what would be the first major scandal of his life) when it became obvious that he was ill-suited to military life. Instead he joined Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Theatre Company, during which time he dated singer-actress Ruthie Henshall.

Further scandal dogged him in his efforts to lead a normal (ie: non-royal) life, which given the improbability of such a thing should have seemed inevitable, even then; he produced the well-televised fiasco It's a Royal Knockout and breached a media blackout when his company was caught filming his nephew Prince William at St. Andrew's University. Given unprecedented access to the archives at Windsor Castle he attempted to produce a series of documentaries (mainly on the Royal Families of Europe) - that is, until he was accused of using his royal connections unfairly.

Following his marriage to Sophie Rhys-Jones in June 1999 at St. George's Chapel, Windsor he was created Earl of Wessex, and it was then announced that he would one day become the next Duke of Edinburgh* following that title's extinction upon the death of the present bearer; as such, he has been working extensively with the Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme in recent years. After one further scandal involving a News of the World reporter named Mazher Mahmood disguised as an Arab sheik and an obvious incident of entrapment, the Earl and Countess of Wessex joined public life as full-time royals.

Currently residing at Bagshot Park, His Royal Highness is the father of two children: Lady Louise Windsor (born in November 2003) and James, Viscount Severn (born in December 2007). Although neither child now bears the title of HRH, they are entitled to, and will one day have to decide whether or not they want it.

*Naturally, the title will not pass directly to the Earl of Wessex but first lapse to the Crown before theoretically being re-granted.

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