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Sophie, Countess of Wessex, is the wife of Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, the youngest son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. She gained worldwide audience attention after she sat next to Meghan Markle in a car during a royal procession to Westminster Abbey, but she has been a loyal member of the royal family since 1999.
According to royal expert Kinsey Schofield, when Sophie first joined the royal family, she had trouble finding a footing because she was very similar to Princess Diana.
“The women were constantly being compared, and some royal viewers even accused Sophie of trying to ‘steal Princess Diana’s style,'” Schofield explained, adding that it was Prince Andrew’s wife at the time. Same for – Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York.
Despite initial struggles in winning over the public, the Queen accepted Sophie into the family with open arms and developed a very close relationship with her throughout the years. The Queen often referred to Sophie as her second daughter, and Sophie was the only non-blood relative on the Queen’s side at Balmoral during the Emperor’s final hours.
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“Like the Queen, Sophie has moved away from the spotlight and become a mystery,” Schofield said. “People were deeply moved by a video of the Countess crying after the death of Prince Philip and assuring mourners that Queen Elizabeth was loved and cared for. Sophie was a very devoted mother and love The Queen regarded her as the second daughter, and she has become an important part of the Mountbatten-Windsor fold.”
The Earl and Countess met while working normal jobs and wanted to maintain that normalcy after getting married. Prince Edward wanted to continue exploring his passion for the art world by working as a producer, and Sophie wanted to continue building her already successful PR firm.
In the eyes of the public, Sophie’s life did not pass without a scandal. In 2001, after an incident referred to as “the Sophiegate”, Edward and Sophie decided to put aside their dreams of a normal life, quitting their jobs and devoting their time to the royal family.
“A reporter for the News of the World got in the guise of the Sheik to unearth a PR relationship with Sophie and, based on their conversation, the Countess was accused of exploiting her royal connections,” Scofield said. Explained. “Buckingham Palace was forced to review potential conflicts of interest for all working royals.”
The Queen’s reaction to the scandal further demonstrated her love for her son and his wife. She publicly denounced the allegations against Sophie and showed support for her.
When the scandal broke, Buckingham Palace issued a statement saying, “The Queen condemns the forgery, deceit, fraud and untruth to which the Earl and Countess have been subjected in recent times.”
“In my opinion, it has always been a great example of Queen Elizabeth’s forgiving nature and proof that if [Prince] Harry and Meghan [Markle] Straight away… there might be peace and forgiveness one day,” Schofield said. “The Countess, a PR specialist, handled the ‘scam’ so quickly and quietly that it’s rarely discussed today.”
Schofield believes Sophie could have been a great mentor to Markle in handling negative media attention due to her experience in both the PR world and the royal family. However, the relationship didn’t seem to be of interest to Markle, as she chose to rely on US-based PR firms “who don’t understand the ins and outs of royalties.”
The relationship between the two further fell apart when Markle and Prince Harry decided to speak poorly about the royal family during their interview with Oprah Winfrey.
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Sophie’s response to a question from a British tabloid about the interview indicated that she was not happy with Markle. When asked what she thought about it, she joked, “Oprah who?”
His relationship with the Princess of Wales Kate is quite different. It seems that they have deep respect and love for each other. Schofield explained that they both understand the complexities of getting married in the royal family and the level of patience and thick skin their roles require.
“Countess Sophie and the Princess of Wales deeply respect and love each other. Being the Windsor’s wife requires a lot of patience and body armor,” Schofield explained.
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Both Sophie and Kate maintain the elegant appearance expected from members of the royal family. But Schofield says the two can often be seen joking and laughing with each other.
“There’s a lot of love in there,” Scofield said.
Schofield said Sophie is a “nonsense” person “but does not lack compassion.” She is also “a very devoted mother and loving wife”. Edward and Sophie have two children – Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn.
“If we do, in fact, see a thin-skinned monarchy under King Charles, I would not be surprised to include Prince Edward and Sophie in the mix,” said Schofield, “they are now two of the most important faces company.”