Sophie Wessex is very close to the Queen, and has become part of the Monarch’s team of key royals after Meghan Markle and Harry’s departure left The Firm them short
Image: Getty Images)
Sophie Wessex has been handed a new patronage, her latest new role as she steps up as part of the Queen’s new team of ‘key’ royals.
Prince Edward’s wife, who has been widely praised for her work during the pandemic, is taking over Guide Dogs patronage from Princess Alexandra.
The Queen’s cousin is stepping down from the role after more than 60 years.
The two royals opened the new Guide Dogs South West regional centre in Bristol this week to officially mark the handover.
They met people who are supported by the incredible charity, as well as some of their adorable dogs and puppies, and watched training demonstrations.
Derryn Vranch / Guide Dogs)
Guide Dogs Chairman Jamie Hambro said: “We are incredibly honoured to mark, and to thank in person, Princess Alexandra for her wonderful contribution over the last sixty-seven years, first as our President, then since 1957 as our Patron.
“We hope she feels proud of the organisation that has flourished under her Patronage. From our first four guide dog owners back in 1931, we are now helping thousands of people with sight loss, of all ages, to enjoy freedom and independence.
“We’re looking forward to working with our new Patron to continue to highlight our work which enables people living with sight loss to live the lives they choose.”
Sophie has been described as the royal family’s ‘secret weapon’ and the Queen has relied on her more than ever in the past two years.
Derryn Vranch / Guide Dogs)
After Meghan and Harry quit and Prince Andrew was forced to step down due to his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, there was a shortage of royals in the top spots to carry out engagements – with Sophie set to fill the void.
As patron to more than 70 organisations, Prince Edward’s wife is equally at home at a suburban primary school or the United Nations, campaigning to help British nurses or championing the rights of women and girls around the globe.
Courtiers praise her work ethic and admire how she managed to carve out a niche for herself in the family business after being caught up in an embarrassing scandal that rocked the royals.
The Countess was forced to step down as chairman of her public relations firm in 2001 after being recorded making disparaging comments about senior politicians to an undercover reporter.
Sophie, who had only been married to Prince Edward for two years, issued a grovelling apology after embarrassingly being accused of using her royal connections to manage a £20,000-a-month PR account for a Saudi prince.
One aide revealed: “She’s never shied away from what was an obviously embarrassing episode at the time, but every day since she became a working member of the family she has worked tirelessly for each and every cause she is passionately involved in.”
Indeed, her work may often appear to slip under the radar beside the attention that accompanies other arguably more glamorous royals, but those who know her best will confirm the arrangement suits her modest personality.
Despite being a descendant of King Henry IV, the Countess, born Sophie Helen Rhys-Jones, grew up in a middle class, fairly well-heeled family in Kent.
The second child of her sales director father Christopher and charity worker mum Mary, born on January 20, 1956, the family lived in a four-bedroom 17th-century farmhouse in Brenchley.
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She met future husband Edward in 1987 while working for Capital Radio in London, reportedly while he was dating her friend. Several years later they reconnected at a charity event and started dating, with their engagement announced in January 1999.
Edward proposed with a two-carat oval diamond flanked by two heart-shaped gemstones set in 18-carat white gold – worth more than £100,000.
Sophie, in rank at least, is essentially under the pecking order of the younger Duchesses of the family but the Queen is said to be “fabulously fond” of Sophie and hugely admires her work.
The Duchess of Cambridge is also understood to be firm friends with her as they’ve teamed up for joint engagements.