It was announced today that HRH The Earl of Wessex has become Royal Patron of the Edinburgh International Festival, taking on the patronage from Her Majesty The Queen. The Earl becomes Patron as the International Festival celebrates its 70th anniversary and is the third Royal Patron of the organisation, following HM The Queen and HM Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother.
Her Majesty The Queen became Patron of the International Festival in 1952 when she ascended the throne, assuming the role of co-patron alongside HM Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, who had held the position of Patron since the International Festival was founded in 1947. HM The Queen returned to the International Festival a number of times in her years as Patron, last visiting in 1999 when she officially opened The Hub - Edinburgh’s Festival Centre – which remains the home of the International Festival.
In December, Buckingham Palace announced that The Queen would stand down as patron of 25 organisations, including the International Festival, at the end of Her Majesty's 90th year. With the celebration of The Queen’s Official Birthday in mid June, patronage of the International Festival now passes to The Earl of Wessex.
The Earl has a strong personal interest in the Arts and is already Patron of a number of cultural organisations, including the National Youth Theatre, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, Northern Ballet and the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland.
International Festival Director Fergus Linehan said: ‘We are thrilled to welcome The Earl of Wessex as Patron of the International Festival. His Royal Highness has a great interest in performing arts and we look forward to welcoming him to see some of the world’s greatest artists and ensembles here in Edinburgh.’
Mr Linehan also paid tribute to The Queen’s long service as Patron and the continued support of the Royal Family throughout the International Festival’s history: ‘On behalf of the Trustee Board and staff of the International Festival, I’d like to thank The Queen for her longstanding support. Her Majesty often visited the International Festival alongside members of The Royal Family and we are delighted that this family connection continues as we welcome The Earl of Wessex as our third Royal Patron’.
We look forward to welcoming The Earl of Wessex to the International Festival.
Photo: The Earl of Wessex © 2013 The Royal Household Bagshot Park, Image by Millie Pilkington