The Wessex Girl; . . . or Why Sophie Has Got the Title Last Used for Shakespeare in Love,SOPHIE & EDWARD THE WEDDING OF THE DECADE,SOUVENIR PULL-OUT

Article excerpt

Byline: FIONA BARTON

PRINCE Edward was yesterday given a 10th Century earldom as a wedding present from the Queen.

He was made the Earl of Wessex and Viscount Severn just hours before his marriage to Sophie Rhys-Jones. The bride became Her Royal Highness the Countess of Wessex.

It is traditional for sons of the monarch to be given a Royal dukedom - a title that ranks two rungs ahead of an earldom - but Edward is content to wait.

He will succeed to his father's title, Duke of Edinburgh, on the death of Prince Philip because of his close links with the Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme.

A Palace spokeswoman said: 'The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince of Wales have agreed that the Prince Edward should be given the Dukedom of Edinburgh in due course when the present title now held by Prince Philip eventually reverts to the Crown.' Significantly, it was also announced that the newlyweds' children will not be styled HRH. The Princess Royal was the first of the Queen's children to take such a step, asking that her children be styled

asking that her children be styled simply Master Peter Phillips and Miss Zara Phillips. Edward and Sophie's decision is a clear indication of the couple's determination to guard their children's privacy.

The Palace spokeswoman said it reflects 'the clear personal wish of Prince Edward and his wife as being appropriate to the likely future circumstances of their children'.

If the couple have children, their eldest son would become Viscount Severn - the title is associated with the Rhys-Jones family's Welsh links - and other sons would be called The Honourable. Daughters would have the title Lady.

Perhaps as a sop to critics who

decried her wish to use her maiden name for her public relations work, the bride will use the name Sophie Wessex in her professional life. It will mean a change in the name of Sophie's company, currently called R-JH Public Relations, and will doubtless provoke a torrent of Wessex girl jokes. …