Prince Edward’s wife Sophie has stepped out of the shadows of minor royalty and revealed herself as Queen Elizabeth’s “royal rock.”
Sophie, Countess of Wessex, 56, is married to the Queen’s youngest son Prince Edward, 57, and is said by royal insiders to share a close bond with Her Majesty.
“She is trusted and relied on by the Queen in a way I couldn’t say applied to the Duchess of Cambridge or the Duchess of Cornwall,” an insider told the UK’s Express. “She is like another daughter to Her Majesty — they are that close.”
One courtier explained: “If you’re asking who is Her Majesty’s favorite child, it’s none of them, it’s her daughter-in-law.”
The Queen is said to often ask that her daughter-in-law accompany her in the car before attending church, as she “finds Sophie’s presence soothing.”
Sophie was the first family member to speak publicly about her father-in-law Prince Philip’s death. At a special church service honoring the Duke of Edinburgh, Sophie emotionally described his final moments.
“It was right for him. It was so gentle,” she said. “It was just like somebody took him by the hand and off he went. Very, very peaceful, and that’s all you want for somebody, isn’t it?”
Prince Edward started dating Sophie Rhys-Jones, who grew up in a middle-class family, in 1994. Her father is a retired sales director for a tire and rubber company and her mother was a charity worker and secretary. Her godfather is actor Thane Bettany, her father’s stepbrother and the father of “WandaVision” actor Paul Bettany.
Sophie’s pre-royal career was in public relations, which is how she met Prince Edward. The two began dating in 1993 and married in June 1999.
But, like many members of the royal family, she has not been immune to scandal. In 2001, she was set up by a tabloid reporter posing as an Arab sheik supposedly courting her PR company. In their secretly taped conversation, Sophie called then-Prime Minister Tony Blair’s wife Cherie, “absolutely horrid, horrid, horrid.”
The next year, it was announced that Sophie was stepping down from her “day job” to focus more on royal activities and social engagements.
Sophie and Edward’s path to parenthood was not easy. In 2001, Sophie was found to be suffering from a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy that required emergency surgery. Two years later, she became a mother when she prematurely gave birth to daughter Louise via an emergency Caesarean section after a placental abruption, which caused severe blood loss to both mother and baby.
Due to the premature birth, Louise was born with esotropia, an eye condition in which one or both eyes turn inward. She underwent two operations to repair the problem. In 2007, Sophie gave birth to son James, Viscount Severn, who at 13, was the youngest attendant at his grandfather’s funeral service on Saturday.
Sophie is clearly no diva: In a 2012 cost-cutting measure, her full-time police protection detail was cut down and is now only used when she is on royal duty. Edward was said to be livid over the decision, but his wife was happy about it.
A friend told The Sun, “She preferred not having a police presence 24 hours a day. It meant she could collect the children from school on her own, without any fuss.”
Sophie and Edward’s children do not have royal titles. They could have been granted the titles of Princess and Prince, but their parents decided otherwise.
“We try to bring them up with the understanding that they are very likely to have to work for a living,” Sophie told The Sunday Times. “Hence we made the decision not to use HRH titles. They have them and can decide to use them from [when they turn] 18, but it’s highly unlikely.”
“They go to a regular school,” Sophie continued. “They go to friends for sleepovers and parties. At weekends, we do lots of dog-walking and stay with friends. I guess not everyone’s grandparents live in a castle, but where you are going is not the important part, or who they are. When they are with the Queen, she is their grandmother.”
Louise is said to be a favorite of the Queen, and Prince Philip also had a close bond with his granddaughter. They both adored carriage riding, and Prince Philip is reported to have left Lady Windsor two of his ponies and his Notlaw Storm, the four-wheeled carriage which was seen during the televised funeral last Saturday.