8 Times Prince Edward Broke Royal Protocol

It has long been speculated that Prince Edward, Duke of Cambridge, was the late Queen Elizabeth II's favorite child. Edward supposedly even got special treatment after he decided he no longer wanted to be involved with the Royal Marines back in 1987. Edward's father, the late Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was also completely understanding of the shocking decision, according to Matthew Dennison's "The Queen" (via Daily Mail). "To the surprise of some, Prince Philip [Captain-General of the Royal Marines] did not come down on his son like a ton of bricks," Dennison penned in the book. "He accepted that the Marines 'wasn't right for Edward' — and to this day Edward is grateful for that."

The graciousness and favoritism purportedly displayed by Edward's royal parents is rather interesting considering the fact that the prince isn't at the top of the line of succession, nor is he known to be the hardest-working royal. What's more, Edward has gone against some of the protocols in place for members of the royal family, much like the late Princess Diana. Here are eight times Queen Elizabeth II's youngest child didn't totally fall in line with the royal family's traditions and guidelines.

Prince Edward's controversial TV special was quite the spectacle

In 1987, Prince Edward, Duke of Cambridge, conjured up a charity event that was not exactly a boon for his reputation. "The Grand Knockout Tournament" was a televised charity game show event that pitted celebrities like George Lazenby, John Travolta, and Tom Jones against each other in a series of challenges. Members of the royal family took part in the show as team captains dressed in medieval-themed costumes.

The royals who were brave enough to associate themselves with the TV special included Sarah, Duchess of York, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, and Princess Anne. Edward was, of course, also a participant. Unfortunately, Queen Elizabeth II reportedly not only wanted nothing to do with bizarre spectacle, but was not exactly thrilled with the program. The TV special showed the usually regal family in a not-so-sophisticated light, which evidently went against royal protocol.

It also didn't help that Edward left a presser in a huff after receiving unfavorable reviews. According to an episode of "Now That's Embarrassing: The 80s," (via Express) journalists in attendance simply laughed when he asked how they liked the TV special. While it was not exactly a hit with the critics, the show did pretty well: 18 million viewers watched the royals and co. participate in various shenanigans on television. 

His production company filmed Prince William at college

Prince Edward, Duke of Cambridge, has a passion for film and TV and was once serious about pursuing a career in the industry. As a result, he founded a production company called Ardent in the '90s. But by 2001, the company was in hot water. As The Guardian reported at the time, drama unfolded when one of Edward's film crews headed out to University of St Andrews and filmed a 19-year-old Prince William on campus. 

This situation did not go over well, especially because William had just requested to be left alone by the media weeks prior. "I just want to go to university and have fun," the prince said in a statement, per the BBC. "I want to go there and be an ordinary student. I mean, I'm only going to university. It's not like I'm getting married – though that's what it feels like sometimes." Sadly, the production company owned by William's own uncle was the only outlet that didn't respect his wishes. "It is quite disappointing as every other media organisation has left St Andrews to leave William the opportunity to start university in relative peace," a St Andrews spokesperson told The Guardian.

King Charles III was reportedly upset with Edward's company as he was determined to protect William and Prince Harry's privacy at the time. Edward exited his role as Ardent's managing director months later.

Prince Edward and his wife asked wedding guests to ditch headpieces

Female royal wedding guests traditionally wear extravagant headpieces called fascinators to the ceremonies. However, this tradition was cast aside when Prince Edward, Duke of Cambridge and his wife Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh, asked their guests to abide by a "no headpiece" rule when they tied the knot in 1999. Alas, both Queen Elizabeth II and the Queen Mother still sported headpieces at the wedding, the latter in a hat and the former in a feather fascinator.

Though Sophie did not want to see hats on her big day, that is not to say she is not a fan of a chic headpiece. For example, the Duchess of Edinburgh donned a pink fascinator as a guest at Mike and Zara Tindall's wedding in 2011. She was also seen in a leopard print hat at King Charles III and Queen Camilla's civil ceremony in 2005.

Of course, Sophie also wore a headpiece when she got hitched. And a special headpiece at that. For their wedding, Edward's other half sported the Anthemion Tiara, a tiara that is believed to have been made out of pieces from Queen Elizabeth II's collection. She's worn the one-of-a-kind tiara to a number of events since.

His wedding did not stick to all of the royal traditions

The legendary headpiece request was not the only part of Prince Edward, Duke of Cambridge, and Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh's wedding that cast royal tradition aside. Evidently, the couple was so set on having an intimate ceremony that they didn't include any military or ceremonial state officials in their big day. What's more, they chose not to share a kiss in front of the cameras or the well-wishers who had gathered outside of the ceremony — a tradition that'd been established by King Charles III and Princess Diana

By all accounts, these were not some acts of rebellion or desire to disrespect the palace. Rather, it had more to do with the royal family's various efforts to fly under the radar following Princess Diana's death, which occurred just two years before. DC Jewellery founder Daniel O'Farrell spoke to Express about why Edward's wedding was so intentionally unconventional.

"Sophie, the Countess of Wessex and Prince Edward are among the most unpretentious members of the British Royal Family and their wedding in 1999 clearly reflected this," O'Farrell explained. "The bride and groom insisted on an informal family affair, minus all the ceremonial fuss and fanfare of Prince Edward's siblings' weddings." He went on to confirm the dress code for the wedding: "In fact, the couple wanted their guests to be comfortable and requested everyone to come dressed in evening gowns or smart attire, but without any hats or headpieces."

Prince Edward's children do not have HRH titles

There have been few royals who rejected the titles assigned to them and their children. Even the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, are reportedly just fine with their children being given HRH titles despite their departure from their royal roles. "William's and Catherine's children have always been known by their Prince and Princess titles, and Harry may think it time that his children enjoy the same birth right," royal expert Giselle Bastin told Time in 2023.

Prince Edward, Duke of Cambridge, on the other hand, decided not to give his children royal titles. He and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh, don't want their kids to get too comfortable with royal life and its many privileges. "We try to bring them up with the understanding they are very likely to have to work for a living," Sophie told the Times of London in an interview in 2020. "Hence, we made the decision not to use HRH titles. They have them and can decide to use them from 18, but I think it's highly unlikely."

The mom has also made an effort to protect the kids' privacy, so this could be another reason why they weren't given HRH titles. "Certainly when they were very young we tried to keep them out of it," the mom said of keeping her little ones out of the spotlight during an interview with BBC (via The Independent).

Prince Edward's career path was unusual for a royal

Most royals prioritize their duties. Rarely do they attempt to take on careers that commoners typically pursue. Prince Edward, Duke of Cambridge, was among the few who broke the mold, taking on a career path in the performing arts at a young age. When he was still in his 20s, he snagged a job as a production assistant for legendary composer Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Theatre Company. At the time, The Washington Post reported that the royal would not receive any sort of preferential treatment, and would have to work his way up from the entry-level position like anyone else. As a spokesperson for the company told the Los Angeles Times, "One minute you would be the right-hand man to a production manager and the next you would be running up and down making cups of tea." 

The following decade, Edward pivoted to the television production world with his own company. Ardent Productions, which produced documentaries such as "Edward on Edward" as well as scripted dramas, did have some success abroad, but it wasn't exactly a hit in the UK. According to The Guardian, Ardent was never profitable. A competitor told the outlet, "They're a sad joke in the industry, really. ... There have been very small examples of vanity TV companies before, but not on this scale." In 2002, Edward left the company to go all-in on royal duties. Two decades later, he became a patron of The Production Guild of Great Britain.

The Duke of Cambridge didn't sing the national anthem at an event

Prince Edward, Duke of Cambridge created quite a bit of controversy after eagle-eyed viewers noticed he was the only royal who opted out of singing the national anthem at "The Royal Variety Performance" in 2022. This was the first event since Queen Elizabeth II's passing, so there was a major change when it came to that year's rendition of the national anthem: Instead of "God Save the Queen," they sang "God Save the King" in honor of King Charles III.

Some viewers speculated that Edward did not sing along with the lyrics due to some secret feud with Charles. Body language expert Judi James spoke to Express about her interpretation of the prince's silence during the national anthem performance. "Edward's body language gives some clues as to what his intention might have been," she claimed. "He is clearly adopting a pose of standing to attention while the anthem is sung. He is also doing nothing to hide his face or his facial expression, suggesting this was no form of oversight." James ultimately concluded, "This blend of what looks like duty, respect and affection might suggest that he was still dedicating the song and the moment to his late mother." 

The prince declined the Duke of Cambridge title

On the day of Prince Edward's wedding, he was set to receive the royal title of Duke of Cambridge. He declined the offer and settled on the title of Earl of Wessex instead. Supposedly, Edward's wish to go with a different title was inspired by a movie. "Prince Edward was going to be the Duke of Cambridge, but he watched the film 'Shakespeare in Love,' which had a character called the Earl of Wessex," a courtier told The Telegraph in 2010. "He liked the sound of it and asked the Queen if he could have that instead." But don't worry, the other title didn't go unused for long: In 2011, Prince William was made the Duke of Cambridge. 

Of course, Edward is now the Duke of Edinburgh, but that did not come about until 2023. King Charles III granted his brother the title following Queen Elizabeth II's passing. "His Majesty The King has been pleased to confer the Dukedom of Edinburgh upon The Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and Forfar, on the occasion of His Royal Highness's 59th birthday," a statement from Buckingham Palace read, per Town & Country. "The title will be held by Prince Edward for His Royal Highness's lifetime." The title was last held by Prince Philip.