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Edward Given Earl of Wessex Title

June 19, 1999

WINDSOR, England (AP) _ Queen Elizabeth II’s decision to award Prince Edward the title of Earl of Wessex and Viscount Severn on his wedding day Saturday re-establishes a link with the Anglo-Saxon monarchy of King Harold II.

King Harold, Earl Harold Godwinson of Wessex, was killed at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 by the Norman army of William the Conqueror.

The earldom had been conferred on Harold II’s father, Godwin of Wessex, in the 10th century by the Scandinavian King Canute.

Edward, the queen’s youngest son, is the first person to hold the Earldom of Wessex for many centuries.

His bride, Sophie Rhys-Jones, becomes Her Royal Highness the Countess of Wessex. Miss Rhys-Jones, a public relations executive, will use the name Sophie Wessex in her professional life, Buckingham Palace said.

With the couple’s agreement, the queen decided that any children they have would not be given titles of His or Her Royal Highness, but instead would have courtesy titles as sons or daughters of an earl, the palace said.

The palace also said Edward would be given the Dukedom of Edinburgh after the deaths of the queen and the present Duke of Edinburgh, her husband and Edward’s father, Prince Philip.

Many had predicted the queen would award Edward a dukedom on his wedding day.

The title of earl usually is given to a commoner marrying into the royal family. The Earl of Snowdon, for example, received his title when he wed Princess Margaret, the queen’s sister.

Harold Brooks-Baker, publishing director of Burke’s Peerage, said the decision to make Edward an earl rather than a duke indicated he would play a minor role in public life.

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