Home » Fashion » Sophie Wessex is the Queen’s ‘favourite daughter-in-law’ and she’s ‘trusted’ in ways Kate and Camilla aren’t – The Sun
Sophie Wessex is the Queen’s ‘favourite daughter-in-law’ and she’s ‘trusted’ in ways Kate and Camilla aren’t – The Sun
WHEN the Queen is in residence at Sandringham, the staff who are on duty on a Sunday amuse themselves by placing bets on who will accompany the Sovereign in the Rolls Royce when it makes its short stately journey from the house, to morning service at St Mary Magdalene Church.
No money exchanges hands in this below-stairs contest, because nine times out of 10, the footmen and pages on the weekend roster know exactly who will be in prime position in the cream leather comfort of the Rolls back seat – Sophie Wessex.
“If Sophie Wessex is staying at Sandringham then you can pretty much guarantee the Queen will ask her – usually last thing on a Saturday night – if she would like ‘a lift’ to the church,” reveals a former royal equerry.
“And the same happens at Balmoral. The Queen likes to be completely calm before church and she finds Sophie’s presence soothing.
"Who gets the backseat is also one of those quirky royal ways that signals who is in favour – for example Princess Anne may be staying at the same time, but how often do you see her in the Rolls?”
The car-sharing rigmarole – when the journey starts with Sophie helping to smooth a Tartan blanket over the Queen’s lap – is indeed a subtle pointer to the place that Sophie, 54, now occupies as the monarch’s favourite daughter-in-law.
Not only does the Queen enjoy Sophie’s company but, remarkably for someone who got things so badly wrong when she was newly married to Prince Edward and was insisting on still working in public relations, she is now viewed by the Queen as the Royal Family’s safest pair of hands.
"She is trusted and relied on by the Queen in a way I couldn't say applied to the Duchess of Cambridge or the Duchess of Cornwall," says a senior royal aide.
"She is like another daughter to Her Majesty, they are that close.
Sophie is like another daughter to Her Majesty, they are that close
“The Queen is also mindful that Sophie’s marriage has survived where her other children’s relationships have failed – and she knows that is in no small way down to Sophie’s dedication – she is aware, as his Edward’s mother, what a tricky creature he can be.
“And not only has Sophie flourished as a dedicated, albeit still relatively junior member of the Royal family, she has brought up two teenagers who are well-balanced, sporty, amusing and delightful.”
Indeed, as Fabulous Digital has revealed, the Wessex’s daughter Lady Louise Windsor, 15, has become the monarch’s favourite grandchild and, along with her eleven-year-old brother James (Viscount Severn) proved HM’s most welcome house guests at Balmoral because of the way they enthusiastically took part in all that was on offer at the Queen’s Highlands retreat.
Incidentally, the Countess is very close to her daughter, not least because of the trauma of her birth in 2003. Louise was a month premature and Sophie lost nine pints of blood, and was in Frimley Park hospital for 15 days.
Sophie, who was not born to life in a stately home – she was brought up in the Kent commuter belt where her father Christopher Rhys-Jones worked as an executive for a tyre company and her late mother Mary was a secretary – has herself embraced those rural pursuits beloved of the royals.
“In her early days of marriage Sophie set herself a series of tasks – she’s quite driven and focused like that – of learning how to ride properly, how to fish, how to shoot game and, more recently carriage driving,” observes one friend who knew her before, and after her royal marriage.
"She was not a natural rider – she’s had lots of lessons from the grooms at Windsor – but she’s certainly assured enough to accompany the Queen in gentle hacks around the Balmoral estate or Windsor Great Park.
Who are the Queen's daughters-in-law?
Sophie, Countess of Wessex Sophie, 54, is married to the Queen's youngest son, Prince Edward. The pair met at a charity tennis event in 1993 and dated for six years before marrying at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle on June 19, 1999. They have two children: Lady Louise Windsor – who is thought to be the Queen's favourite grandchild – and James, Viscount Severn.
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall Camilla, 72, is married to Prince Charles, who is the Queen's eldest son. The pair's controversial relationship began when they met at a polo match in 1970, before breaking up when the future King joined the navy. The pair reunited years later following the breakdown of Charles' marriage to Diana and their relationship continued following Diana's tragic death in 1997. The pair were married in 2005. Speaking about the Queen and Camilla's relationship, royal expert Penny Junor said: "She had been very fond of Camilla in all the years she had been married to Andrew Parker Bowles – but it was Camilla who had been responsible, wittingly or not, for all the disasters that had befallen Charles since his marriage. “The Queen had wanted her gone before Diana’s death and felt no differently after it." However, the Queen gave a touching tribute to Camilla in Charles' 70th birthday speech: "Sustained by his wife Camilla, he is his own man, passionate and creative."
Sarah Ferguson Sarah – also known as "Fergie" was married to the Queen's son, Prince Andrew. The pair married at Westminster Abbey in July 1986 and became parents to Princess Beatrice in 1988 and Princess Eugenie two years later. However, they divorced in 1996, with the Palace announcing that Fergie would no longer carry out public engagements on behalf of the Queen. Despite this, Fergie and Prince Andrew, who is the Queen’s third child, remain close and they still share homes in Windsor, at Royal Lodge, and Switzerland. According to reports, the Queen always supported Sarah, 59, telling Prince Philip: “Whatever you say about her she’s a good mother.”
“Not that she was entirely willing to accept the royal way of doing things – for example she thought that at eight years old James was too young when Edward wanted him to go on a Boxing Day pheasant shoot at Sandringham.
"She was probably the only mother in the family that would dare over-rule her husband.”
But then right from the start of her relationship with Edward, Sophie has never allowed herself to be brow-beaten by royal tradition, particularly if she feels some practices are anachronistic and no longer relevant in today’s world.
Sophie set herself a series of tasks of learning how to ride properly, how to fish, how to shoot game and, more recently carriage driving
Her friend observes that Sophie is certainly not concerned, in the way some royal women usually are, about slipping down the official rankings.
"For several years after marrying Edward, she was the second lady in the land to the Queen.
The subsequent arrivals of three new royal duchesses — Camilla in 2005; Kate in 2011 and Meghan last year — meant Sophie has dropped down to fifth.