Prince Edward scheduled to visit Aiken later this month 1

Britain's Prince Edward plays an exhibition match of real tennis in La Bastide Clairence, southwestern France in May. Real tennis is the original racquet sport from which the modern game of tennis is derived. The prince scheduled to visit Aiken on Sept. 17.

A member of the British royal family is scheduled to visit Aiken later this month.

Prince Edward will be at the Aiken Tennis Club on Sept. 17, according to a list of his official engagements on the website.

Also known as the Earl of Wessex, Prince Edward will be playing court tennis at the private facility, said Aiken Tennis Club President Michael Sullivan.

In addition, Prince Edward will attend a luncheon at the Tennis Club for its members and guests.

The trip to Aiken is part of Prince Edward’s 2018 Real Tennis Tour, which is designed to raise awareness of and generate financial support for The Duke of Edinburgh’s (Prince Philip’s) International Award.

The tour’s series of events, which kicked off in England in January, include tournaments, receptions and dinners.

The International Award’s program provides opportunities for young people in more than 130 countries and territories to volunteer, improve their health and fitness, participate in expeditions and develop personal and social skills.

Prince Edward is the chairman of the board of trustees for The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award Foundation.

He said his goal during the Real Tennis Tour is to play on every court tennis court in the world in an interview that appeared earlier this year on

Based on information published on the U.S. Court Tennis Association’s website, there are 10 court tennis courts in this country, not including one that is closed on Long Island, New York.

In addition, there are more than 30 such facilities in Australia, France and Great Britain.

Court tennis also is called “real tennis.” Historians disagree about how it got its start.

Some believe its origins date back to ancient Egypt while others say an early form of the sport was played in the fifth century in Italy. In the 12th century in Italy and France, there were games in closed courtyards.

Early competitors hit balls with their bare hands, and later they wore gloves.

By the 16th century, racquets were being used.

Court tennis was the forerunner of modern tennis, which originally was called “lawn tennis.”

There are a number of differences between court tennis and modern tennis. In court tennis, for example, the ball is always served from the same end of the court.

The Aiken Tennis Club was established in 1898, and the court used today at 146 Newberry St. S.W. has been in operation since 1902. American political leader and financier W.C. Whitney commissioned Joseph Bickley to oversee the construction of the facility, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Former world champions who have played on the Aiken Tennis Club’s court include Pierre Etchebaster, Northrup Knox, Pete Bostwick, Jimmy Bostwick and Wayne Davies.

Camden Riviere, who was raised in Aiken, was the 2016 world champion.

Robert Fahey, winner of multiple world championships, including the 2018 title, also has played at the Aiken Tennis Club.

Prince Edward, 54, is the youngest of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip’s four children. He is 10th in the line of succession to the British throne.

After a stint in the Royal Marines in the 1980s, Prince Edward worked in the entertainment industry in theater and television. In 1993, he formed the television production company Ardent Productions.

Since Prince Philip retired from public duties last year, Prince Edward has been taking over many of his father’s responsibilities.

Prince Edward’s wife, the Countess of Wessex, is the former Sophie Rhys-Jones. The Count and Countess have two children.

​Dede Biles is the Aiken County government, business and horse industry reporter for the Aiken Standard. Follow her on Twitter @DBethBiles.