Sophie, Countess of Wessex, the wife of Prince Edward, and once known as a “black sheep” of the family, became so close to Queen Elizabeth II that she was among the small group of family members summoned to the monarch’s bedside when she died on Thursday, according to the Times of London.
Sophie Rhys Jones, 57, became the first middle class working woman to join the royal family when she married Edward in 1999. Her mother was a secretary and her father was an executive in a tire company. Sophie had been working for Capital Radio when she met Prince Edward in 1987. She went on to join a PR firm where she ran campaigns for children’s books.
Her working life was brought to an embarrassing end in 2001 when she was duped by a News of the World reporter posing as a potential client for her PR firm. She was caught on tape offering comments about then prime minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie, whom she described as “horrid, absolutely horrid.”
Although she struggled with royal duties at first, Sophie was helped by the Queen and learned to “manage expectations,” she told the newspaper.
After the death of he 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 on daily walks through Windsor Great Park, and over 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. Her eldest, Lady Louise Windsor, now 18, learned to drive carriages on the estate with Prince Philip and paid tribute to him earlier this year at the Royal Windsor Horse Show’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations by driving his carriage in front of the Queen.