Wednesday, January 6, 1999 Published at 13:00 GMT
Prince Edward pictured the year he set up Ardent Productions
After five years of courtship, Sophie Rhys-Jones has had plenty of time to get to know her prince. But what do we the public know about her chosen spouse, a private royal who has fought off media mockery to make a life for himself outside the royal circle?
The Queen was 38 when Edward was born but 12 years into her reign she was able to cut back on her royal duties and devote more time and attention to him than she had to any of her other children.
But once there, he settled in easily and showed his theatrical leanings early on by taking part in school plays.
Edward eventually became headboy, and achieved a respectable academic record - nine O- and three A-levels. Generally considered the cleverest of the Queen's children, his subsequent place at Cambridge University to study history was thought to be justified on merit.
Almost immediately, Edward was asked to write and narrate two television programmes on the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme, a project helped to concentrate his ideas on his future.
While the press mocked him, the successful West End composer Andrew Lloyd Webber offered Edward a job as a production assistant in his Really Useful Company. He jumped at the chance and began a humble beginning in showbiz. The press lost interest and the prince was happy to be out of the limelight.
Once his courtship with Sophie Rhys-Jones became public knowledge in 1993, the Prince took another unprecedented step. He issued an open letter to editors, denying reports that they had made plans to marry and asking for them to stay away.
"I am very conscious that other members of my family have been subjected to similar attention and it has not been at all beneficial to their relationships," he said.
'Edward formerly known as Prince'
In same year, Prince Edward set up his own production company, Ardent Productions, and decided to drop his HRH title while at work. Dubbed the Edward formerly known as Prince, the press once again took a cynical view of the prince's activities after he used his contacts to write and present a series of royal documentaries.
They included Crown and Country, a view of Britain's history through its monuments, Edward on Edward, about the life of his uncle Edward VII and a documentary on the restoration of Windsor Castle after the 1992 fire. But he has been involved in non-royal programmes, too, such as a short television documentary series of programmes on real tennis and the fictional series Annie's Bar, based on MPs at Westminster.
Last year he gave himself a pay rise, bringing his salary to a reported £119,125 - although the business had hit a financial low with debts believed to be running at £1.2m.
The prince has shown himself to be a man who knows what he wants but admitted on Wednesday that only he knows why it took him so long to decide to marry the girl he has been courting for more than five years.
"It's impossible for anyone else to understand why it has taken me this long."