Sophie, Countess of Wessex, the wife of Prince Edward, and once known as the ‘black sheep’ of the family, became so close to Queen Elizabeth II that she was one of the small group of family members summoned to the monarch’s bedside upon his death. Thursday, according to the Times of London.
Sophie Rhys Jones, 57, became the first middle-class worker to join the royal family when she married Edward in 1999. Her mother was a secretary and her father was a tire company executive. Sophie was working for Capital Radio when she met Prince Edward in 1987. She then joined a public relations firm where she ran campaigns for children’s books.
Her professional life came to an embarrassing end in 2001 when she was duped by a News of the World reporter posing as a potential client of her public relations firm. She was filmed making comments about then-Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie, which she described as “awful, absolutely awful”.
Although she struggled with royal duties at first, Sophie was helped by the Queen and learned to “manage expectations”, she told the newspaper.
Following the death of the Queen’s husband last year, the monarch appointed Sophie Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, one of Prince Philip’s military roles.
When pandemic restrictions were partially lifted, Sophie and the Queen bonded over daily walks in Windsor Great Park and their shared love of military history, spending hours together poring over ancient documents in the royal archives, according to the Times.
Sophie’s two children were also close to the queen. His eldest, Lady Louise Windsor, now 18, learned to drive carriages on the estate with Prince Philip and honored him earlier this year at the Royal Windsor Horse Show’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in driving his carriage past the queen.