The late Queen Elizabeth's daughter-in-law Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh, just might be the most stylish royal you haven't heard of yet. Here's everything you need to about Prince Edward's wife, formerly Sophie, Countess of Wessex.
Sophie was born Sophie Helen Rhys-Jones in January of 1965 in Oxford.
She is the second child of Christopher Bournes Rhys-Jones, a retired salesman, and the late Mary Rhys-Jones, who was a secretary. She has one older brother named David.
She and Prince Edward were married at Windsor Castle in 1999.
In terms of royal weddings, it was a rather intimate affair. The couple will celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary this summer.
Sophie was previously known as the Countess of Wessex.
On their wedding day, the Queen conferred the titles of the Earl of Wessex and Viscount Severn upon Prince Edward, and so Sophie became known as Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex.
In March of 2019, Edward was granted a title to use in Scotland: Earl of Forfar. So when he and Sophie are north of the English border, they'll be known as the Earl and Countess of Forfar
In March 2023, King Charles conferred the Duke of Edinburgh title to Prince Edward, and at that point, Sophie became Duchess of Edinburgh.
They have two children together.
The Duchess has had her share of scandals, but she was thought to be one of the Queen's favorite people.
After high school, Sophie worked in publicity at Capital Radio and later at the firm Brian MacLaurin before starting her own PR business, R-JH, reports the BBC. But in 2001, she had to step away from her company following .
A reporter posed as "an Arab sheikh offering lucrative business to her firm," reported the Wall Street Journal, and Sophie made "indiscreet remarks" about both British politicians and members of the royal family, which were later published.
Since then, as the Telegraph put it, "she has scarcely put a foot wrong," and became one of the late Queen Elizabeth's trusted confidants. "[The Countess] is probably the best example of an outsider coming into the family and learning on the job,” royal biographer Robert Jobson told the British paper. “She’s very much the Queen’s favorite, and you’ll notice that whenever there is a family holiday or gathering, Sophie and Edward often stay a while longer than the rest.”
Sophie is a full-time working royal.
According to her biography on the royal family's website, she is the patron of over 70 charities, many of which support young people and children, and avoidable blindness.
“There is no smile quite like the one that is returned from eyes that once more can see,” she told the Sunday Express. It's a cause close to her heart, as her daughter Lady Louise was born with an eye condition known as strabismus, which has since been corrected. "Her eyesight is perfect," Sophie said.
The Duchess is also a Royal Colonel of 5th Battalion the Rifle and the Colonel-in-Chief of the Corps of Army Music and of Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps. She also supports King Charles at events both in the U.K. and abroad and is present at a number of royal events throughout the year, including Trooping the Colour and Remembrance Day.
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