How Sophie Wessex became the ‘Queen’s favourite’ despite the initial scandal and why Meghan will ‘never be best friends’

SHE has kept her emotions in check while in the public eye, but the redness around her eyes speaks volumes about how deeply the Countess of Wessex has been affected by the loss of her mother-in-law.

For sophie57, the the death of the queen means not only a step forward in the royal hierarchybut the sudden absence of the mother figure with whom he spoke most mornings.

The Countess of Wessex, pictured looking at floral tributes to the queen.


The Countess of Wessex, pictured looking at floral tributes to the queen.Credit: Pennsylvania
Sophie saw the Queen as a mother figure.


Sophie saw the Queen as a mother figure.Credit: AFP

Sophie’s memories of being with him Queen this summer they are especially cool.

with her husband prince edwardshe took her daughter Lady Louise Windsor18 and son James Viscount Severn14, to stay in Balmoral.

They enjoyed all the usual Highland activities without, says a friend, “not a shadow of what was about to happen a few weeks after they said goodbye to the Queen”.

The suddenness of sovereign’s death has hit sophie hard. Her friend says that she, along with the rest of the family, “thought they had a lot of time left.”

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Edward and Sophie wipe tears at Queen's funeral

They “fully expected” to see the Queen in Windsorwhere it was expected to return normally in October.

Windsor formed the basis of Sophie’s relationship with the Queen.

The majority Saturday afternoons Sophie would drive the 10 miles from her home in Bagshot Park to the castle, where the Queen would be waiting to catch up over tea.

This was followed by a session of war films and historical documentaries, which the couple loved to watch together, a source of its closeness.

“They watched countless movies together,” says a royal source.

“If any particular event or battle caught her fancy, the Queen would sometimes arrange for the Royal Archives, kept in Windsor, to be opened so that the two of them could peruse any relevant documents.

“Sophie is very fond of history, she is proud of her knowledge of military campaigns, and she and the Queen could chat for hours about whether this general or that admiral made the right move in one battle or another.”

strong bond

The Countess of Wessex was said to be like a second daughter to the queen.


The Countess of Wessex was said to be like a second daughter to the queen.Credit: Getty Images-Getty

These hours spent in the Queen’s drawing room at Windsor strengthened the bond between the monarch and her daughter-in-law.

The two began spending more time together soon after the queen lost her sister. princess daisyfollowed by her mother just seven weeks later, in 2002.

Three years later, Sophie mourned the death of her mother Mary, who died of cancer at the age of 71.

Not only did the Queen enjoy Sophie’s company, but surprisingly, for someone who had done such poor things when she was newly married to Edward, Her Majesty came to view her as the safest pair of hands in the Royal Family.

She also has a reputation as a pacifier – visible last week when he leaned in to exchange words with Meghan Markle while the Royal family awaited the arrival of the Queen’s coffin at Westminster room.

The Duchess of Sussex seemed visibly more relaxed after the exchange of words as the couple shared their grief.

Sophie and Meghan together in Westminster Hall


Sophie and Meghan together in Westminster HallCredit: rex

Given Sophie’s seemingly unassailable position as the Sovereign’s favourite, she was well placed to offer lessons to the last female member of The Firm.

A member of the Wessex circle informs me: “Sophie was one of the first to invite Meghan, alone, to tea at Bagshot.”

However, they add: “They got along perfectly well, but Sophie could feel that they would never become the best of friends.

“Let’s just say that Meghan seemed to have her own agenda and wasn’t in the market for advice, however well-intentioned.”

The quiet, incisive, self-confident and thoughtful countess we see today is a far cry from the bumbling figure who, early in her marriage, was still running her own public relations consultancy.

She created a storm of ‘rental reais’ when she posed next to a Rover 75 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, having secured a £250,000 contract to advertise it.

Sophie created a storm of 'reals for rent' with this snap


Sophie created a storm of ‘reals for rent’ with this snapCredit: BMW

When Sophie finally quit her PR firm and committed to a life of royal duties full time, there were questions as to whether she could ever erase the memory of such indiscretions.

“What helped dispel that doubt,” says one royal observer, “was that the queen had long detected certain qualities in Sophie as a royal consort, probably before her youngest son.”

The Queen was said to be irritated by how long Edward was taking with the romance: it was six years, and Sophie was 34 when she walked down the aisle in Chapel of Saint George in Windsor.

As such, Her Majesty uniquely arranged for Sophie to have her own pass to enter Buckingham palaceallowing her to spend the night in the royal apartments, where Edward had his suite of rooms, whenever she wished.

Sofia herself has acknowledged that the Queen found her “different” because she had known another life in commerce before marrying her prince.

She said in a speech: “I’m weird because I’m one of the few ladies in the British royal family who has had a professional business career and her own company.”

embraced real life

Sophie photographed riding with the Queen before her marriage to Edward


Sophie photographed riding with the Queen before her marriage to EdwardCredit: Getty

Sophie wasn’t born to live in a stately home. She grew up in suburban Kent, where her father, Christopher Rhys-Jones, worked as a tire company executive.

But she has embraced the rural pursuits beloved by royalty.

A friend, who knew her before her royal marriage, observes: “In the early days of her marriage, Sophie set herself a series of tasks (thus she is quite motivated and focused) from learning to ride properly, to fishing, to game of shots and, more recently, carriage driving.”

Her friend adds: “She became like a daughter to Her Majesty, they were so close.

It was an opinion shared by prince philipwho admired Sophie for the way she devoted herself to her duties.

“Sophie has not only flourished as a dedicated member of the royal family, she has also raised two well-adjusted teenagers.

“The Queen was also aware that Sophie’s marriage has survived where her other children’s relationships have failed, and she knew that was due in no small part to Sophie’s dedication.

The Queen was aware that Sophie’s marriage had survived where her other children’s relationships had failed, and she knew that this was due in large part to Sophie’s dedication.

actual insider information

“She is aware, as Edward’s mother, how cunning he can be.”

An example of Sophie’s closeness to the Queen came from Sandringham, where Sunday service staff amused themselves by placing bets on who would accompany the Sovereign in the Rolls Royce to the morning service at St Mary Magdalene Church.

There was no money exchanged in this under-the-stairs contest, because nine times out of 10, they knew exactly who would be in prime position in the cream-leather comfort of the Rolls’ backseat.

“If Sophie was staying at Sandringham, then the queen could be guaranteed to ask her, usually late on a Saturday night, if she would like to ‘take’ her to church,” said a former royal equerry.

“And the same thing happened at Balmoral. The queen liked to be completely quiet before going to church and Sophie’s presence reassured her.”

‘Pair of safe hands’

Sophie Rhys-Jones photographed in 1995


Sophie Rhys-Jones photographed in 1995Credit: PA: Press Association
Prince Edward and Sophie on their wedding day in 1999


Prince Edward and Sophie on their wedding day in 1999Credit: rex

Sophie now feels confident and relaxed when dealing with the public, evident in the sensitive way she answered questions from a crowd the day after Philip’s death.

Watched by her slightly shocked husband, she told them her death was “so soft, like someone took him by the hand and then walked away. Very calm, which is what you want for someone, right?

It was the second time Sophie had spoken publicly about her father-in-law’s death.

The day before, she had answered a question about how she was coping with the queen, revealing that she was “thinking of others before herself, it’s amazing.”

Now that the queen has passed away, audiences have already witnessed more of Sophie’s qualities than HM spotted so early on.

Sophie, who is already connected to some 70 charities and organizations, reportedly take on a large number of patronages from the Queenincluding the Women’s Institute and the Dogs Trust.

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And when King Charles announces, as he is expected to do in the coming weeks, that Edward is going to become Duke of Edinburgh – in accordance with Prince Philip’s wishes – Sophie will become royal duchess.

A well deserved promotion.

The Earl and Countess of Wessex with their children, Lady Louise Windsor and James Viscount Severn


The Earl and Countess of Wessex with their children, Lady Louise Windsor and James Viscount SevernCredit: Getty
The royal family thanks Balmoral supporters


The royal family thanks Balmoral supportersCredit: AFP

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