University of Edinburgh
The University of Edinburgh, founded in 1582, is the sixth oldest university in the English-speaking world and one of Scotland's ancient universities. The university has five main campuses in the city of Edinburgh, with many of the buildings in the historic Old Town belonging to the university; the university played an important role in leading Edinburgh to its reputation as a chief intellectual centre during the Age of Enlightenment, helped give the city the nickname of the Athens of the North. The University of Edinburgh is ranked 18th in the world by the 2019 QS World University Rankings, it is ranked as the 6th best university in Europe by the U. S. News' Best Global Universities Ranking, 7th best in Europe by the Times Higher Education Ranking; the Research Excellence Framework, a research ranking used by the UK government to determine future research funding, ranked Edinburgh 4th in the UK for research power, 11th overall. It is ranked the 78th most employable university in the world by the 2017 Global Employability University Ranking.
It is a member of both the Russell Group, the League of European Research Universities, a consortium of 21 research universities in Europe. It has the third largest endowment of any university in the United Kingdom, after the universities of Cambridge and Oxford; the annual income of the institution for 2017–18 was £949.0 million of which £279.7 million was from research grants and contracts, with an expenditure of £931.3 million. Alumni of the university include some of the major figures of modern history, including 3 signatories of the American declaration of independence and 9 heads of state; as of March 2019, Edinburgh's alumni, faculty members and researches include 19 Nobel laureates, 3 Turing Award laureates, 1 Fields Medalist, 1 Abel Prize winner, 2 Pulitzer Prize winners, 2 currently-sitting UK Supreme Court Justices, several Olympic gold medallists. It continues to have links to the British Royal Family, having had the Duke of Edinburgh as its Chancellor from 1953 to 2010 and Princess Anne since 2011.
Edinburgh receives 60,000 applications every year, making it the second most popular university in the UK by volume of applications. It has 4th highest average UCAS entry tariff in Scotland, 5th overall in the UK. Founded by the Edinburgh Town Council, the university began life as a college of law using part of a legacy left by a graduate of the University of St Andrews, Bishop Robert Reid of St Magnus Cathedral, Orkney. Through efforts by the Town Council and Ministers of the City the institution broadened in scope and became formally established as a college by a Royal Charter, granted by King James VI of Scotland on 14 April 1582 after the petitioning of the Council; this was unprecedented in newly Presbyterian Scotland, as older universities in Scotland had been established through Papal bulls. Established as the "Tounis College", it opened its doors to students in October 1583. Instruction began under the charge of another St Andrews graduate Robert Rollock, it was the fourth Scottish university in a period when the richer and much more populous England had only two.
It was renamed King James's College in 1617. By the 18th century, the university was a leading centre of the Scottish Enlightenment. In 1762, Reverend Hugh Blair was appointed by King George III as the first Regius Professor of Rhetoric and Belles-Lettres; this formalised literature as a subject at the university and the foundation of the English Literature department, making Edinburgh the oldest centre of literary education in Britain. Before the building of Old College to plans by Robert Adam implemented after the Napoleonic Wars by the architect William Henry Playfair, the University of Edinburgh existed in a hotchpotch of buildings from its establishment until the early 19th century; the university's first custom-built building was the Old College, now Edinburgh Law School, situated on South Bridge. Its first forte in teaching was anatomy and the developing science of surgery, from which it expanded into many other subjects. From the basement of a nearby house ran the anatomy tunnel corridor.
It went under what was North College Street, under the university buildings until it reached the university's anatomy lecture theatre, delivering bodies for dissection. It was from this tunnel. Towards the end of the 19th century, Old College was becoming overcrowded and Sir Robert Rowand Anderson was commissioned to design new Medical School premises in 1875; the design incorporated a Graduation Hall, but this was seen as too ambitious. A separate building was constructed for the purpose, the McEwan Hall designed by Anderson, after funds were donated by the brewer and politician Sir William McEwan in 1894, it was presented to the University in 1897. New College was opened in 1846 as a Free Church of Scotland college of the United Free Church of Scotland. Since the 1930s it has been the home of the School of Divinity. Prior to the 1929 reunion of the Church of Scotland, candidates for the ministry in the United Free Church studied at New College, whilst candidates for the old Church of Scotland studied in the Divinity Faculty of the University of Edinburgh.
During the 1930s the two institutions came together. By the end of the 1950s, there were around 7,000 students matriculating annually. An Edinburgh Students' Representative Council was founded in 1884 by student Robert Fitzroy Bell. In 1889, the SRC voted to be housed in Teviot Row House; the Edinburgh University Sports Union, founded in 1866. The Edinburgh
Queen's Hall, Edinburgh
The Queen's Hall is a 900-capacity music venue, situated on Clerk Street in Edinburgh, Scotland. Built in 1823 as Hope Park Chapel, it was converted to its current role in 1979 and was formally opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 6 July 1979, it now plays host to all types of live music, presents 200 performances every year. It is the year-round Edinburgh performance home of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and plays an important role for the Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival; the Kirk Session of St Cuthbert investigated the southern districts of the parish and found that for a population of 20,250 people, there were only 6,274 seats at places of worship. An appeal was launched, the site was located and the Edinburgh architect Robert Brown was appointed to design the new church, he was responsible for laying out some of Edinburgh's urban extension and designing buildings such as the Easter Coates development, including Melville Street, Coates Crescent and Manor Place.
The original cost of the building was £6,111, in 1834 it was renamed the Newington Parish Church. The Forster and Andrews organ was installed in 1873 and was only the second organ introduced into an established church in Edinburgh. Towards the end of the century, Victorian modifications were made to the interior of the building. Tinted glass was put in the windows, the pulpit was lowered, the high box pews were replaced with more comfortable seating, the overall number of seats was reduced. During this time, Newington Parish Church became a fashionable kirk for owners of the new villas in the southside of Edinburgh; the reunification of the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church meant that there were now 13 congregations between the Meadows and the Queen's Park, south of the old city wall. In 1932 the General Assembly reunited St Leonard's; the original St Leonard's was sold to the Church of Christ for £3,000 and the money used to create a new development, now the bar area. It was designed by J. Jeffrey Wardell and opened on 8 December 1934.
A declining congregation led to the closure of Newington and St Leonard's Church on 31 July 1976. The closure of the church coincided with a search by the Scottish Baroque Ensemble, Scottish Philharmonic Singers and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra for performance and rehearsal premises. An appeal was launched in 1977; the architect was Larry Rolland of Robert Hurd and Partners, the main contractor was Melville and Whitson. The total costs amounted to £850,000 and The Queen's Hall was opened on 6 July 1979. Further development of the backstage areas took place in 1982 with the opening of the Canada Room. In 1991, a new mezzanine level - called the Hope Scott Room - was created above the bar area; the Hall was further improved in 1996 with the installation of the piano lift, refurbishment of the pews and carpeting at a cost of £700,000. In June 2017 a 3-year strategy of refurbishment to reposition the Hall and brand to ensure its future financial and artistic success under new CEO Evan Henderson was announced.
The clock in the clock tower was provided by subscriptions in 1827 and its original workings were replaced in 1883. These workings were stolen - for scrap - during the refurbishment in the late 1970s; the two 14-foot high plaques located in the stairways to the balconies were not part of the original fabric of the building. They were gifted by the Kirk Session in June 1949 from Buccleuch Parish Church; the 1873 Forster and Andrews organ was relocated to Nicholson Square Methodist Church. The William Gray chamber organ was built in 1810 for the Jerningham family in Norfolk, it was relocated to The Queen's Hall. Its inaugural concert was 13 July 1979, it was sold at Phillips Auction in November 1991. The pulpit was removed and placed in storage by the Church of Scotland until it was gifted and installed in St Giles Church, Elgin in 1981; the Queen's Hall website Official Facebook page Twitter Instagram The Queen's Hall photostream on Flickr with photos of performances
Edinburgh Festival Theatre
The Edinburgh Festival Theatre is a performing arts venue located on Nicolson Street in Edinburgh, Scotland used for performances of opera and ballet, large-scale musical events, touring groups. After its most recent renovation in 1994, it seats 1,915, it is one of the major venues of the annual summer Edinburgh International Festival and is the Edinburgh venue for the Scottish Opera and the Scottish Ballet. The present theatre’s location is Edinburgh’s longest continuous theatre site, for there has been a theatre in that location since 1830. From being Dunedin Hall, the Royal Amphitheatre, Alhambra Music Hall, the Queen’s Theatre, Pablo Fanque's Amphitheatre, Newsome’s Circus, the site became the Empire Palace Theatre, the first of the famous Moss Empires’ chain, opening on 7 November 1892. Designed by the great British theatre architect, Frank Matcham, its décor was lavish, with elephants with Nubian riders and cherubs in abundance on the plasterwork, it seated 3000 people on four levels.
For the following twenty years all the top artists of the day played at the Empire Palace until, on 9 May 1911, there was a disastrous fire on stage. While all 3000 theatre goers escaped safely in about 2.5 minutes, there were eleven backstage deaths and the death of a lion). Film of the aftermath of the fire is held by the National Library of Scotland; the theatre reopened three months after the fire. Given the long term competition from the growth of film as a popular medium, the theatre had to be re-equipped to present bigger and more spectacular shows. Reusing some of Matcham’s original design concepts, the theatre reopened on 1 October 1928 with the first production, the musical Show Boat. Between 1928 and 1963 the Empire was a variety and opera house including ice shows. Big names like Harry Lauder, Charles Laughton, Fats Waller, Joe Loss, Laurel and Hardy appeared, while English comedians Max Wall and Wise and Harry Worth established themselves at the Empire. In addition to the music hall and popular entertainers who appeared at the Empire, the theatre became a principal venue of the Edinburgh International Festival between 1947 and 1963.
It was associated with international ballet and, during the first Festival in 1947, Margot Fonteyn danced in The Sleeping Beauty, while in subsequent years, performances by the Old Vic theatre company, the Royal Ballet and the Royal Opera were presented. However, for nearly thirty years after 1963 the theatre became a bingo hall, only temporarily serving as a Festival venue. In the early 1970s the venue shortened its name to the Empire Theatre and hosted live music events. Bands did not appear until after 11 pm -. Free, Wishbone Ash and Focus were among the acts appearing. After its third major remodeling, the Empire Theatre reopened in June 1994 with a glass-fronted structure for the new entrance, as the now-renamed Edinburgh Festival Theatre. In 1997, the theatre manager and artistic director Stephen Barry was appointed to shape the rejuvenated venue's future. With the restoration of the Empire Theatre’s former 1928 glory, plus a dramatic mix of art nouveau, beaux arts and neo-classicism, including adequate acoustics, the new theatre serves the artistic needs of the community.
In the twenty-first century, the theatre has played host to a wide number of touring productions of West End shows, including Les Misérables and War Horse. Westlife lead vocalist Shane Filan played at the theatre as a solo artist in 2017; the theatre is said to be haunted by a tall, dark stranger rumoured to be the famous illusionist Sigmund Neuberger, a.k.a. The Great Lafayette, one of those who burned to death in the fire at the Empire in 1911. Edinburgh Festival Theatre Official Website The Festival Theatre on Arthur Lloyd website Theatregoer letters to Paul Iles, Founding General Manager of Edinburgh Festival Theatre, 1992-1996
The Vienna Philharmonic, founded in 1842, is an orchestra considered to be one of the finest in the world. The Vienna Philharmonic is based at the Musikverein in Austria, its members are selected from the orchestra of the Vienna State Opera. Selection involves a lengthy process, with each musician demonstrating his or her capability for a minimum of three years' performance for the opera and ballet. After this probationary period, the musician may request an application for a position in the orchestra from the Vienna Philharmonic's board; until the 1830s, orchestral performance in Vienna was done by ad hoc orchestras, consisting of professional and amateur musicians brought together for specific performances. In 1833, Franz Lachner formed the forerunner of the Vienna Philharmonic, the Künstlerverein – an orchestra of professional musicians from the Vienna Court Opera; the Vienna Philharmonic itself arose nine years in 1842, hatched by a group who met at the inn'Zum Amor', including the poet Nikolaus Lenau, newspaper editor August Schmidt, critic Alfred Becker, violinist Karlz Holz, Count Laurecin, composer Otto Nicolai, the principal conductor of a standing orchestra at a Viennese theater.
Mosco Carner wrote in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians that "Nicolai was the least enthusiastic about the idea, had to be persuaded by the others. The orchestra was independent, consisted of members of the Hofoper orchestra, made all of its decisions by a democratic vote of its members. Nicolai and the orchestra gave only 11 concerts in the ensuing five years, when Nicolai left Vienna in 1847, the orchestra nearly folded. Between 1854 and 1857, Karl Eckert – the first permanent conductor of the Vienna Court Opera – led the Vienna Philharmonic in a few concerts. In 1857, Eckert was made Director of the Hofoper – the first musician to have been given the post. Since that time, writes Vienna Philharmonic violinist and president Clemens Hellsberg, "the'Philharmonic Concerts' have been staged without interruption." In 1860, the orchestra elected Otto Dessoff to be the permanent conductor. According to Max Kalbeck, the Vienna-based music critic, newspaper editor, biographer, the fame and excellence of the Vienna Philharmonic resulted from Dessoff's "energy and sense of purpose."
Clemens Hellsberg gives specifics, writing that during the Dessoff years, the Vienna Philharmonic's "repertoire was enlarged, important organizational principles were introduced and the orchestra moved to its third new home, the newly built Goldener Saal in the Musikverein building in Vienna, which has proved to be the ideal venue, with its acoustical characteristics influencing the orchestra's style and sound." After fifteen years, in 1875, Dessoff was "pushed out of his position in Vienna through intrigue", he left Vienna to become conductor of the Badische Staatskapelle in Karlsruhe, Germany. In Karlsruhe the next year, he fulfilled the request of his friend Johannes Brahms to conduct the first performance of his Symphony no. 1. In 1875, the orchestra chose Hans Richter to take Dessoff's place as subscription conductor, he remained until 1898, except for the season 1882/1883, when he was in dispute with the orchestral committee. Richter led the VPO in the world premieres of Brahms's Second Symphony, Tragic Overture, Symphony no.
3, the Violin Concerto of Tchaikovsky, in 1892 the 8th symphony of Anton Bruckner. It was Richter who in 1881 appointed Arnold Rosé as concertmaster, to become Gustav Mahler's brother-in-law and was concertmaster until the Anschluss in 1938. In order to be eligible for a pension, Richter intended to remain in his position for 25 years, he might have done so, given that the orchestra unanimously re-elected him in May 1898, but he resigned on 22 September, citing health reasons, although biographer Christopher Fifield argues that the real reasons were that he wanted to tour, that "he was uneasy as claques in the audience formed in favour of Gustav Mahler". Richter recommended Ferdinand Löwe to the orchestra as his replacement. In 1898, on 24 September, the orchestra elected Gustav Mahler. Under Mahler's baton, the Vienna Philharmonic played abroad for the first time at the 1900 Paris World Exposition. While Mahler had strong supporters in the orchestra, he faced dissension from other orchestral members, criticism of his re-touchings of Beethoven, arguments with the orchestra and over new policies he imposed.
He resigned on 1 April 1901, citing health concerns as a
The Usher Hall is a concert hall, situated on Lothian Road, in the west end of Edinburgh, Scotland. It has hosted concerts and events since its construction in 1914 and can hold 2,200 people in its restored auditorium, well loved by performers due to its acoustics; the Hall is flanked by The Royal Lyceum Theatre on The Traverse Theatre on the left. Historic Scotland has registered the Hall with Category A listed building status; the construction of the hall was funded by Andrew Usher, a whisky distiller and blender, who donated £100,000 to the city to fund a new concert hall. The choice of site caused early delays but in 1910 an architectural competition was announced with the requirement that the hall be simple but dignified; the winning bid came from Stockdale Howard H Thomson of Leicester. The design was a backlash against Victorian Gothic, with a return to classical features owing much to the Beaux-Arts style. On 19 July 1911, George V and Queen Mary laid two memorial stones, an event attended by over a thousand people.
Its curved walls, unusual for the time, were made possible by developments in reinforced concrete. The dome was designed to reflect the curvature of the walls; the interior of the hall is adorned with decorative plaster panels by the Edinburgh sculptor Harry Gamley. The figures depicted in these panels show figures from the world of music, as well as famous Scots; these include: Sir Walter Scott, Robert Burns, Allan Ramsay, R L Stevenson, Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Johannes Brahms, Edvard Grieg and Anton Rubinstein. Harry Gamley's work features on the outside of the building with two large figures representing Inspiration and Achievement, as well as another three figures by Crossland McClure depicting the Soul of Music, Music of the Sea and Music of the Woods; the finished building was opened on 16 March 1914 with a concert featuring music by Handel, Wagner and the Scottish composer Hamish MacCunn. The final cost of building the Usher Hall was £134,000.
Andrew Usher died. The Usher Hall has been used for a variety of events, including politics, charity fundraisers and sport, as well as music. In 1914 Prime Minister H. H. Asquith gave a speech entitled the War, using the occasion to recruit from the all-male audience. At various times the musical and the political overlapped, on occasions such as fundraising concerts for the Republican movement in Spain in the 1930s and sexcentenary celebrations of the foundation of the City of Edinburgh in 1929; the end to political rallies in the Usher Hall came after a serious incident in 1934, when Sir Oswald Mosley came to speak. Between five and six thousand people protested outside, several people were injured. In 1986 the Commonwealth Games came to Edinburgh with the Usher Hall providing the venue for the boxing tournament; the extensive basement rooms of the Usher Hall made the building ideal for use as an air-raid shelter and the venue was equipped for use during the Second World War. However, there are no records of it being used as such, but painted signs on internal doors, such as "No Dogs" indicate that preparations were made.
As a platform for international classical musicians, the hall hosted the Vienna Philharmonic, under Bruno Walter, at the first festival in 1947. It is the Edinburgh home of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, who play during their season; the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Scottish Fiddle Orchestra, National Youth Orchestra of Scotland and local organisations, such as the Edinburgh Royal Choral Union and the Kevock Choir regularly appear. In March 1972, the Eurovision Song Contest was compered by Moira Shearer; the United Kingdom entry was sung by The New Seekers. A major feature of the Usher Hall is the organ, it was built in 1913 by Norman & Beard of Norwich at a cost of around £4000, was designed to be the focal point of the Hall, both visually and musically. The significance of the organ to the Usher Hall is demonstrated by the existence of the Usher Hall Organ Trust, who helped raise funds to restore the organ, it had fallen into disuse due to poor reliability caused by a lack of adequate moisture and temperature control, leading to it not being played for several years.
The restoration work was carried out by Harrison and Harrison of Durham, took three years to complete, with the organ being reinstalled in 2002. The organ was re-inaugurated on 7 June 2003 in a celebratory concert recital by Gillian Weir. Still owned and managed by the City of Edinburgh Council, the Usher Hall is still in constant use; as well as being one of the main venues for the Edinburgh International Festival, other events have been held, such as the Holocaust Memorial Ceremony and the Colin O'Riordan Memorial Concert. Freedom of the City ceremonies have taken place at the hall over the years, with the most recent being for film star and Scottish icon Sean Connery in 1991. On 13 April 1996 hours after a concert, a large piece of plaster fell 130 feet from the roof into the auditorium. Only three chairs were damaged, but this event was just one example of the state of disrepair into which the Hall was falling. Vital repairs were necessary to make the building wind-proof and safe. Relying on Lottery and Arts Council funding, the City of Edinburgh embarked on a £25 million scheme to both make the hall safe and improve its function - including making the auditorium suitable for Promenade-type events and building new catering and ticketing facilities.
Late into the design phase, the Lottery Fund application failed and the Arts Council withdrew i
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland and one of its 32 council areas. Part of the county of Midlothian, it is located in Lothian on the Firth of Forth's southern shore. Recognised as the capital of Scotland since at least the 15th century, Edinburgh is the seat of the Scottish Government, the Scottish Parliament and the supreme courts of Scotland; the city's Palace of Holyroodhouse is the official residence of the monarch in Scotland. The city has long been a centre of education in the fields of medicine, Scots law, philosophy, the sciences and engineering, it is the second largest financial centre in the United Kingdom and the city's historical and cultural attractions have made it the United Kingdom's second most popular tourist destination, attracting over one million overseas visitors each year. Edinburgh is Scotland's second most populous city and the seventh most populous in the United Kingdom; the official population estimates are 488,050 for the Locality of Edinburgh, 513,210 for the City of Edinburgh, 1,339,380 for the city region.
Edinburgh lies at the heart of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland city region comprising East Lothian, Fife, Scottish Borders and West Lothian. The city is the annual venue of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, it is home to national institutions such as the National Museum of Scotland, the National Library of Scotland and the Scottish National Gallery. The University of Edinburgh, founded in 1582 and now one of four in the city, is placed 18th in the QS World University Rankings for 2019; the city is famous for the Edinburgh International Festival and the Fringe, the latter being the world's largest annual international arts festival. Historic sites in Edinburgh include Edinburgh Castle, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the churches of St. Giles and the Canongate, the extensive Georgian New Town, built in the 18th/19th centuries. Edinburgh's Old Town and New Town together are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, managed by Edinburgh World Heritage since 1999. "Edin", the root of the city's name, derives from Eidyn, the name for this region in Cumbric, the Brittonic Celtic language spoken there.
The name's meaning is unknown. The district of Eidyn centred on the dun or hillfort of Eidyn; this stronghold is believed to have been located at Castle Rock, now the site of Edinburgh Castle. Eidyn was conquered by the Angles of Bernicia in the 7th century and by the Scots in the 10th century; as the language shifted to Old English, subsequently to modern English and Scots, The Brittonic din in Din Eidyn was replaced by burh, producing Edinburgh. Din became dùn in Scottish Gaelic, producing Dùn Èideann; the city is affectionately nicknamed Auld Reekie, Scots for Old Smoky, for the views from the country of the smoke-covered Old Town. Allan Ramsay said. A name the country people give Edinburgh from the cloud of smoke or reek, always impending over it."Thomas Carlyle said, "Smoke cloud hangs over old Edinburgh,—for since Aeneas Silvius's time and earlier, the people have the art strange to Aeneas, of burning a certain sort of black stones, Edinburgh with its chimneys is called'Auld Reekie' by the country people."A character in Walter Scott's The Abbot says "... yonder stands Auld Reekie--you may see the smoke hover over her at twenty miles' distance."Robert Chambers who said that the sobriquet could not be traced before the reign of Charles II attributed the name to a Fife laird, Durham of Largo, who regulated the bedtime of his children by the smoke rising above Edinburgh from the fires of the tenements.
"It's time now bairns, to tak' the beuks, gang to our beds, for yonder's Auld Reekie, I see, putting on her nicht -cap!"Some have called Edinburgh the Athens of the North for a variety of reasons. The earliest comparison between the two cities showed that they had a similar topography, with the Castle Rock of Edinburgh performing a similar role to the Athenian Acropolis. Both of them had fertile agricultural land sloping down to a port several miles away. Although this arrangement is common in Southern Europe, it is rare in Northern Europe; the 18th-century intellectual life, referred to as the Scottish Enlightenment, was a key influence in gaining the name. Such luminaries as David Hume and Adam Smith shone during this period. Having lost most of its political importance after the Union, some hoped that Edinburgh could gain a similar influence on London as Athens had on Rome. A contributing factor was the neoclassical architecture that of William Henry Playfair, the National Monument. Tom Stoppard's character Archie, of Jumpers, said playing on Reykjavík meaning "smoky bay", that the "Reykjavík of the South" would be more appropriate.
The city has been known by several Latin names, such as Aneda or Edina. The adjectival form of the latter, can be seen inscribed on educational buildings; the Scots poets Robert Fergusson and Robert Burns used Edina in their poems. Ben Jonson described it as "Britaine's other eye", Sir Walter Scott referred to it as "yon Empress of the North". Robert Louis Stevenson a son of the city, wrote, "Edinburgh is what Paris ought to be"; the colloquial pronunciation "Embra" or "Embro" has been used, as in Robert Garioch's Embro to the Ploy. The earliest known human habitation in the Edinburgh area was at Cramond, where evidence was found of a Mesolithi
Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex
Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, is the youngest of four children and the third son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. At the time of his birth, he was third in line of succession to the British throne; the Earl is a full-time working member of the British royal family and supports the Queen in her official duties – alongside his wife the Countess of Wessex - as well as undertaking public engagements for a large number of his own charities. In particular he has assumed many duties from his father, the Duke of Edinburgh, who retired from public life in 2017. Prince Edward succeeded Prince Philip as president of the Commonwealth Games Federation and opened the 1990 Commonwealth Games in New Zealand and the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Malaysia, he has taken over the Duke's role in the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme. Prince Edward was born on 10 March 1964, at Buckingham Palace, London, as the third son, the fourth and youngest child of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
He was baptised on 2 May 1964 in the private chapel at Windsor Castle by the Dean of Windsor, Robin Woods. As with his older siblings, a governess was appointed to look after Edward and was responsible for his early education at Buckingham Palace before he attended Gibbs School in Kensington. In September 1972, he joined Heatherdown School, near Ascot in Berkshire; as his father and elder brothers had done before him, he moved to Gordonstoun, in northern Scotland, was appointed Head Boy in his last term. Edward obtained a C-grade and two D-grades at A-level, after leaving school spent a gap year abroad, working as a house tutor and junior master for two terms at the Wanganui Collegiate School in New Zealand. Upon his return to Britain, Edward matriculated at Jesus College, where he read history, his admission to Cambridge caused some controversy, since his A-level grades were far below the standard required for Oxbridge entrance, "straight As". Edward graduated in 1986 as BA. In 1986, on leaving university, Prince Edward joined the Royal Marines, who had paid £12,000 towards his tuition at Cambridge University on condition of future service.
In January 1987, Prince Edward dropped out of the gruelling commando course after having completed just one-third of the 12-month training. Media reported that the move prompted a berating from Prince Philip who "reduced his son to prolonged tears". Others claimed that Philip was in fact the most sympathetic family member and that he understood his son's decision. After leaving the Marines, Edward opted for a career in entertainment, he commissioned the 1986 musical Cricket from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, for his mother's 60th birthday celebration, which led to a job offer at Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Theatre Company, where he worked as a production assistant on musicals such as The Phantom of the Opera, Starlight Express, Cats. His duties involved making tea for the artistic staff. While there he met actress Ruthie Henshall, whom he dated for three years. Edward's first foray into television production was the programme The Grand Knockout Tournament, informally known as It's a Royal Knockout, on 15 June 1987, in which four teams sponsored by him, Princess Anne and the Duke and Duchess of York competed for charity.
The media attacked the programme. In 1993, Edward formed the television production company Ardent Productions. Ardent was involved in the production of a number of documentaries and dramas, but Edward was accused in the media of using his royal connections for financial gain, the company was referred to by some industry insiders as "a sad joke" due to a perceived lack of professionalism in its operations. Andy Beckett, writing in The Guardian, opined that "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. Commercial breaks are filled with army recruiting advertisements". Ardent's productions were somewhat better received in the United States and a documentary Edward made about his grand-uncle, Edward VIII in 1996, sold well worldwide. Nonetheless, the company reported losses every year it operated save one when Edward did not draw a salary.
An Ardent two-man film crew was alleged to have invaded the privacy of his nephew Prince William in September 2001, when he was studying at the University of St Andrews, against industry guidelines regarding the privacy of members of the royal family. In March 2002, Edward announced that he would step down as production director and joint managing director of Ardent to concentrate on his public duties and to support the Queen during her Golden Jubilee year. Ardent Productions was voluntarily dissolved in June 2009, with assets reduced to just £40. Edward met Sophie Rhys-Jones a public relations executive with her own firm, in 1994, their engagement was announced on 6 January 1999. Edward proposed to Sophie with an Asprey and Garrard engagement ring worth an estimated £105,000: a two-carat oval diamond flanked by two heart-shaped gemstones set in 18-carat white gold, their wedding took place on 19 June 1999 in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. This was a departure from the weddings of his elder brothers, which were large, formal events at Westminster Abbey or St Paul's Cathedral, had ended in divorce.
On his wedding day, Prince Edward was created Earl of W