The Royal family constantly receive media attention; some positive and some negative, with naturally King Charles III drawing the most, just as his mother Queen Elizabeth II had done before him. The Prince and Princess of Wales, and Camilla, Queen Consort, are not far behind, and the press are always on the look out for anything that Prince Harry and Meghan get up to, especially if it can stir things up and create additional stories.
However, quietly going about her working commitments as a member of the Royal Family and gradually earning a highly respected reputation for her dedication, caring nature, and all round sincerity in her demeanour, is Sophie, the Countess of Wessex; whose popularity has never been higher.
A patron of good grace and integrity
After a difficult start to life as a Royal following her marriage to Prince Edward in 1999, Sophie has really grown into the role over the past decade; but admirably undertakes her duties out of the limelight and always with great humility and grace. She is patron of over 70 different charities and organisations and as such, visits hundreds of schools, military bases, and charity headquarters, not just on invite, but also on her own personal request, so as to learn more about their work, and to then be able to highlight it to the wider world.
Champion of disability initiatives
She is especially concerned with supporting and aiding provisions for people with disabilities, epilepsy, and autism; championing local and national initiatives. She often visits special education centres which support young adults with complex needs, meeting with them and assisting in any way she can, and listening to the experts with regards to anything she can influence that will provide valuable assistance.
Seeing a way forward for avoidable blindness
Another great passion is the prevention and eradication of avoidable blindness in developing countries, for which she is Patron of Vision 2020: The Right to Sight. Experiencing first-hand the difference organisations with the right knowledge, experience and funding can make, Her Royal Highness is committed to assisting on a global scale; having overseen programmes in India, Qatar, Bangladesh and Nepal.
Support for conflict related sexual violence
She is also massively involved in actively backing the UK’s efforts in the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative (PSVI), having paid a recent visit, as the first member of the royal family to do so, to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where she discovered first hand the horrendous impact of sexual and gender-based violence and trauma in conflict.
It was at the request of the Foreign Office and she spent a considerable amount of time with some of the survivors in one of the hospitals there, after which she committed to lending her full support.
Middle-class girl stays grounded
Sophie, unlike most of the other members of the Royal Family, was not born into aristocracy. She was very much a middle-class girl when she married Prince Edward, coming from a background in PR, which was indeed where she first met her future husband.
It probably explains why she has a genuine friendship with the Princess of Wales, despite a 17 year age difference, as she too came from a relatively “normal” upbringing. With Kate now taking on more responsibilities, she is likely to become her female sounding board, more than ever.
Touching relationship with Queen Elizabeth
After the death of the Duke of Edinburgh, she developed a lovely relationship with Her Majesty the Queen, with her mother-in-law often referring to her as her “rock”. She had always got on really well with Prince Philip, never seemingly affected by his infamous abruptness and able to make him laugh, not something many within the family were able to achieve.
Putting on a right royal show
Almost as if to give a public seal of approval, it has been confirmed that Their Royal Highnesses The Earl and Countess of Wessex will be the royal guests of honour at this year’s Royal Variety Performance, which is scheduled to take place on 1 December.
It will be the couple’s first time at the event, which raises money for the Royal Variety Charity, supporting people who have been in the entertainment industry. It was always a firm favourite of Queen Elizabeth II who would attend with Philip. Others including Charles, when he was still Prince of Wales, Camilla, Princess Anne, Prince William with Kate, and Prince Harry with Meghan have also sat in the royal box on many occasions.
In addition, the late Princess Diana was a popular attendee, so receiving this invitation puts them in very good company.