History

Prince Edward's wedding

19 June 1999

Prince Edward married Sophie Rhys-Jones at St George's Chapel in Windsor. At the couple's request, the ceremony was primarily for family and friends and did not follow the pattern of previous royal weddings.


Photo: Prince Edward, his wife Sophie Rhys-Jones and her pageboys and bridesmaids leave St George's Chapel in Windsor after their marriage, 19 June 1999. (Press Association)

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More information about: Prince Edward's wedding

How the couple met

Prince Edward, the third and youngest son of the Queen, was born on 10 March 1964. Educated, like his brothers Charles and Andrew, at Gordonstoun in Scotland, he became head boy and excelled in drama. He also showed an early interest in the media and listened to the radio avidly.

He read history at Cambridge University where he continued his theatre interests. After university he entered the Royal Marines but resigned his commission three years later.

Keen to pursue his love of acting and performing, he began television presenting. In 1993 the prince set up his own television company, Ardent Productions, (notable for producing It's a Royal Knockout).

Sophie Rhys-Jones was born in Oxford on 20 January 1965. After attending school and college in Kent, she worked for a London public relations firm and later a radio station.

It was at a strategy session for a charity event that the pair had their first formal meeting in 1993. Their relationship began soon after, and their engagement was announced in January 1999.

The wedding day

Prince Edward married Sophie Rhys-Jones at St George's Chapel in Windsor.

The Queen revived the 11th Century title of the Earl of Wessex for the groom, and the bride became Her Royal Highness, the Countess Wessex.

Prince Edward walked to the chapel for the late afternoon ceremony with his two supporters, Prince Charles and Prince Andrew.

Sophie arrived traditionally late and climbed the steps of the chapel accompanied by a fanfare from the band of the Royal Marines. She wore a dress designed by Samantha Shaw, which consisted of a long fitted coat with long sleeves and an ivory train, made from hand-dyed silk organza and silk crepe, with rows of pearls and crystal beading. She also wore a diamond tiara from the Queen's private collection and a pearl necklace.

At the couple's request, the wedding was primarily for family and friends and did not follow the pattern of previous royal weddings. Guests were asked to wear "evening dress" and no hats. However, the Queen Mother did wear a lavender hat.

Princes William and Harry, and Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie attended, but the Duchess of York was not invited.

After the ceremony a procession of open-topped, horse-drawn carriages carried Edward and Sophie to the reception at St George's Hall in Windsor.

The Earl and Countess of Wessex spent their honeymoon at Balmoral.

Life after the wedding

The royal couple have had two children, Louise Alice Elizabeth Mary Mountbatten-Windsor, born November 2003, and James Alexander Philip Theo, born December 2007.

The Countess of Wessex continued working in PR until 2002. This was also the year that Prince Edward stepped down from his role at Ardent Productions to concentrate on public duties.

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