17. Digging Up Dirt on Sophie, Countess of Wessex


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It got me thinking… I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything bad about Sophie at all. She seems like an absolute angel, but is she????

What do we Know about Edward and Sophie?

Let’s Start with Edward

  • 4th child and 3rd son of QEII and Prince Philip
  • Born in 1964, which makes him 16 years younger than his eldest brother Charles, 14 years younger than Ann, and 4 years younger than Andrew
    • If you watched the crown, you know QEII was older when she had Andrew and Edward – in her late 30s (which was old back then) She saw having them as a sort of second chance at motherhood.
    • He and Andrew were both born while she was Queen
  • He is currently 13th in line to the throne (when the British changed how girls are handled, they did not go in and update the line of succession… if they had, Anne’s family would bump his and Andrew’s)
  • He attended great schools – Heathrow School, and Gordonstoun, and spent his gap year teaching in New Zealand. He wasn’t a natural student and there was some controversy over his getting into Cambridge based on his grade. He attended Jesus College, Cambridge, and graduated from the University of Cambridge in 1986 with a degree in history.
  • He served a brief stint in the Royal Marines. However, he only served for ⅓ of a year before dropping out. He was supposed to complete a full year.
    • He was strongly criticized for this and made out to be wimpy for not hacking it in the Marines while also pursuing interests in the arts. He was called the “weeping wimp of Windsor.” And the press often and openly speculated about his sexuality.
  • Edward worked as a theater production assistant at the Really Useful Theater Company before assisting in television production. He later formed his own company, Ardent Productions.
  • In 1999, Edward married Sophie Rhys-Jones
  • In 2002, Edward stepped down from the company to begin full-time duties as a working member of the royal family and undertook engagements on behalf of the Queen.
  • As a working member of the royal family, he holds patronage within over 70 charities and organizations. His charity work focuses on the arts, athletics, and the development of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, which centers around fitness, well-being, and community service.

And now Sophie, Countess of Wessex

  • Sophie Helen Rhys-Jones was born at Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford, on 20 January 1965.
  • She was raised in Kent in a middle-class family.
  • She attended West Kent College where she trained as a secretary.
  • She began a career in public relations, working for a variety of firms, including four years at Capital Radio.
  • She also worked as a ski representative in Switzerland and spent a year traveling and working in Australia.
  • In 1996, Rhys-Jones launched her public relations agency, RJH Public Relations, which she ran with a business partner for five years.
  • As I mentioned, they married in 1999
  • She also became a full-time working member of the royal family in 2002.

How did they get together?

  • Edward and Sophie met for the first time in 1987 when he was dating her friend.
  • They met again at a promotional shoot for the Prince Edward Summer Challenge to raise money for charity in 1993, and the two began their relationship soon afterward.
  • Sophie, who was reportedly close to the Queen from the beginning of her relationship with Edward, was allowed to use the royal apartments at Buckingham Palace prior to her engagement.
  • Edward proposed to Sophie during a holiday in the Bahamas in December 1998 and their engagement was announced on 6 January 1999.
    • There’s a lot of speculation as to why it took him so long to propose.
      • Queen wants him to be sure after his 3 sibs failed marriages (similar to Will and Kate – had a brief separation while dating… test?)
      • Loosening of restrictions on class
      • Diana’s bombshell interview in 1995 and then her death in 1997
  • Their wedding took place on 19 June 1999 in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. This was a departure from the weddings of his elder brothers, which were large, formal events at Westminster Abbey or St Paul’s Cathedral, and had all ended in divorce.
  • Their wedding included no ceremonial state or military elements.
  • Upon their marriage, Sophie became the first woman who worked and came from a middle-class background to join The Firm… paving the way for Kate.
  • In their early years of marriage, Sophie and Edward desired to live as low-profile, modern professionals. But, as we know they became working members of the royal family in 2002 – albeit, quite low profile.
  • They’ve seemingly been happily married for the past 22 years. Edward is the only one of the Queen’s four children to be married to his first spouse.

Tell me about their kids

  • In 2001, Sophie had an ectopic pregnancy. This typically results in the loss of at least one fallopian tube.
  • On November 8, 2003 (38), Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor, was born prematurely due to a sudden placental abruption. She was delivered via emergency c-section. Both mother and baby experienced severe blood loss. She was taken to the NICU and they both remained in the hospital for nearly 3 weeks. The queen visited Sophie in the hospital, which was highly unusual and was said to show how close they were..
    • Born with esotropia (an eye condition), Louise underwent an operation in 2006 in an unsuccessful attempt to correct the problem. She had further treatment in late 2013 that corrected her eyes.
    • At age 7, she was a bridesmaid at Will and Kate’s wedding.
  • On December 17, 2007 (42), James Mountbatten-Windsor, Viscount Severn was born.

Wait, why aren’t their kids Princess and Prince (like Bea and Eugenie)?

  • Sophie and Edward were named Earl and countess on their wedding day so their children are styled as the son and daughter of an Earl – which is Viscount and Lady.
  • Upon both of their births, Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex opted not to give their children prince and princess titles, although they can choose to receive the titles when they turn 18, according to the 1917 Letters Patent, which decrees that all children of the monarch’s heirs have princely status and can use the designation His or Her Royal Highness.
  • It’s said that QEII wanted Edward to become Duke of Edinburgh after his father passed. As of right now, that title has been merged into the crown, but Charles can still give it to his brother… if he wants to.

So, what sort of dirt did I find on Sophie, Countess of Wessex…

Not much!

First of all, it’s really hard to find blind items about Sophie because when you search her name in any form in conjunction with “blind item” or “blinds” you get a whole bunch about charities she works with – because of her daughter’s eye condition, she works with many charities that deal with preventable blindness.

The only blind item I found that even mentioned her was actually about Andrew…

The blind item claims that Harvey Weinstein, Jeffery Epstein, and Gislaine Maxwell were all in attendance at Prince Beatrice’s lavish 18th birthday party in 2006.

The reason Sophie is mentioned is that she was also in attendance, but – duh, it’s her niece’s birthday party.

There were some gaffs at the very beginning of their marriage…

  • Their wedding-gift registry, with items including a $99,270 tea set, was made public and received critical reports in the media
  • She was also paid 250,00 pounds to pose beside a Rover 75 (which I hear is an expensive car) at a motor show.
  • Then in 2001, Sophie was taped by News of the World reporters pretending to be Middle Eastern sheiks looking to do business with her PR firm. In the tape, Sophie talked shit on everyone from…
    • Cherie Blair (the PM Tony Blair’s wife) —whom she called “horrid”
    • Charles and Camilla, whom she referred to as “number one on the top 10 unpopular people.”
  • That same year, Edward came under fire for breaking palace privacy rules when his production company, Ardent, was caught filming Prince William at Uni.
  • The general feeling of the public was that they were trying to make a profit off of their royal status.

(Remember, they both left their professional jobs in 2002 and became full-time working royals… most likely as a result of this.)

And a cheating rumor on Edward’s part from very early in their relationship…

Back in 2020, Ruthie Henshall was appearing on the UK version of I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! 

I don’t know who she is or why she’s a celebrity so I looked her up. Turns out she’s an English actress, singer, and dancer, known for her work in musical theater. She and Edward reportedly dated for a few years in the early 90s.

  • In one episode, she bragged on-air about “shagging” Prince Edward in Buckingham Palace.
  • She told a fellow contestant, “Buckingham Palace? You sang in the gardens, I shagged in the bedrooms.”

So, what’s the conclusion?

I found a report from 2017 that Prince Phillip has said that Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex are his favorites because they’re, “dutiful and uncomplaining.“

  • She’s so low-key and dedicated to her causes that in 2019 alone, according to The Sunday Times, Sophie attended 236 official engagements – more than Prince William.

A royal aide also told the Daily Mail in 2016 that, “Sophie 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.”

Another royal source said, “The Queen and the countess had a fantastically warm and joyful relationship. Her Majesty admired Sophie’s quiet sense of duty, her strong work ethic, and the way she balances her public and family lives.”

It looks like Sophie might just be an angel and the most underrated member of the royal family.

To listen to the full deep dive on The Wessexes, check out our episode of Tell Me More: A deep dive on… on Apple or Spotify. Don’t forget to subscribe so you know exactly when each episode is released!


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