Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary this summer, after their stunning 1999 royal wedding. It has widely been assumed for a number of years that Edward will inherit the title Duke of Edinburgh when his father Prince Philip passes away. The title was given to Prince Philip in 1947 upon his marriage to Princess Elizabeth, and was re-created from title belonging to Queen Victoria’s son Alfred.
During the Duke’s decades of royal service he has made it his own by developing a great deal of royal initiatives.
However, when his youngest son Edward does come into the prestigious title, it is likely to clash with his desire for privacy.
Royal author Ingrid Seward, in her 1995 book “Prince Edward”, discusses the fact that the prince has drawn attention to his status as a private citizen in the past.
In 1993, she writes, the prince “took the most unusual step of pleading with the media to leave him alone so that his relationship with Sophie could develop in its own time”.
The Queen and Earl of Wessex
Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex celebrated 20 years of marriage this summer
Ms Seward continues: “By choosing to handle the matter himself, rather than issuing a statement through Buckingham Palace, Edward (who no longer drew monies from the Civil List) was emphasising his status as a probate citizen.”
Following in the footsteps of their uncle, both Prince William and Prince Harry have issued similar statements of privacy in the early days of their relationships with Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle.
However, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in particular have encountered the difficulties in recent months of balancing public interest in their royal lives and their desire for privacy.
Most notably, their decision to keep baby Archie’s royal christening in July a private occasion was met with disappointment from the public.
READ MORE: How Queen pays for Edward’s lifestyle entirely from private expenses
The Wessex family pictured together last month
Prince Edward, in contrast to the more senior William and Harry, still does not draw money from public funding for his day to day lifestyle.
Instead, his household at Bagshot Park is paid for entirely by the Queen.
However, the Earl and Countess of Wessex now do receive Sovereign Grant money in connection to their official royal duties, which has been the case since they both wound down their private businesses in 2002.
For Prince Edward, his most visible royal duty is his work for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, which will only become more high-profile when he inherits the title himself.
Why Philip, Edward and Sophie all fumed at Charles in huge royal row [EXPERT]
Revealed: Why Prince Edward was ‘wary’ of Princess Diana [INSIGHT]
Sophie Countess of Wessex: How Prince Philip’s Fergie feud sparked row [ROYAL EXPERT]
Prince Philip with Duke of Edinurgh Award recipients in the Sixties
Prince Philip awarding Gold Awards in 2017
Prince Philip founded the Award scheme in 1956 and despite retiring from many of his royal duties in 2017, still serves as its patron.
Royal biographer Penny Junor, in her 2005 book “The Firm”, explains: “Nothing has been confirmed but Edward, who will inherit his father’s title in due course, is almost certain to take over the Award, too.
“He is just as passionate about it as his father, and, having done it himself – which his father never could because he was over age for the Award when it was launched – he is the best possible ambassador for the organisation.
Prince Edward, Sophie and Princess Eugenie handed out awards on behalf of the Duke this year
“Since giving up Ardent, his production company, in 2002, the award has become his main interest.”
However, she adds: “Director of the Award Mike Gretton is privately worried about what will happen when the Duke of Edinburgh goes because he is a stronger brand than Edward.
“But he has absolutely no doubt that in fundraising terms, and also organisationally, having the royal connection is very important to the organisation.”