Royal Family news: Sophie Wessex faced same crisis as Meghan Markle | Royal | News (Reports)


Queen joins Sophie Wessex for World Sight Day video call

Sophie, Countess of Wessex, has been tipped as a replacement for Meghan Markle and Prince Harry after the two stepped down as senior royals last year. The Sussexes have now ventured into the entertainment industry and moved to California, after indicating that life in the public eye had become unsustainable for them.

Months before their dramatic announcement, the couple had been interviewed by ITV’s Tom Bradby and Meghan admitted she felt she was just “surviving” and not “thriving” in the spotlight, due to the level of scrutiny she was facing.

The 39-year-old also told a Californian podcast, Teenage Therapy, in the summer that she had found the level of online trolling “almost unsurvivable”.

But, Meghan is not the only new royal addition who felt the weight of expectation being in the public eye.

Sophie married the Queen’s youngest son, Prince Edward, in 1999.

Like Meghan, she had enjoyed a successful career prior to marriage, and both women got married in their thirties.

Sophie was in PR and communications which meant she was even less accustomed to the public glare than Meghan.

Sophie, Countess of Wessex, and Meghan Markle (Image: Getty/ITV)

Sophie and Meghan both found royal life hard to adjust to

Sophie and Meghan both found royal life hard to adjust to (Image: Getty)

The Duchess of Sussex appeared to be taken under the Queen’s wing early on when she accompanied the monarch on an engagement and travelled by the Royal Train.

Similarly, Sophie has long been recognised as a “favourite” with the Queen, and was even allowed to move into Buckingham Palace long before she was engaged to Edward.

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It was only “after months of unrelenting criticism that Sophie came close to a breakdown”, according to royal biographer Ingrid Seward.

In 2001, just two years after officially becoming a royal, she allegedly said: “Whatever I do, I just can’t win.”

Sophie was humiliated after she had been secretly recorded making disparaging comments about the Government, and seeming to use her status as a means to acquire clients for her PR company.

Ms Seward noted: “Her image was badly damaged and she was forced to ‘shut up shop’ and concentrate on royal duties.”

In contrast, Meghan did not appear to make any such significant blunder – and even said she “gave up her entire life for this family”, according to the biography Finding Freedom.

READ MORE: Queen brutally rejected Sophie’s request to become Princess

Sophie found royal life hard after she wed Edward in 1999

Sophie found royal life hard after she wed Edward in 1999 (Image: Getty)

Meghan told ITV how she was not

Meghan told ITV how she was not “thriving” back in 2019 (Image: ITV)

Instead, Meghan told ITV that “because I’m American, I very naively didn’t get” how much scrutiny she was to endure.

Yet, the Countess of Wessex found it equally difficult.

A friend said: “Sophie has been through some trying times.

“Edward has always been her shoulder to cry on and has seen her at her lowest ebb.”

Writing in The Telegraph, Ms Seward said: “Working hard has been Sophie’s way of dealing with life’s problems, be it official engagements or meetings with the many charities and regiments she represents.”

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Sophie chose to reinvent her image as a royal stalwart over the years, while Meghan and Harry decided they had “no option” but to step down from the Firm after the Duchess spent less than two years as a working royal.

While the Sussexes have moved towards the global stage as celebrities, the Queen once described Sophie as “the sort of girl you wouldn’t notice in a crowd”.

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Meghan seemed to be one of the Queen's favourites when they went on a trip to Cheltenham together

Meghan seemed to be one of the Queen’s favourites when they went on a trip to Cheltenham together (Image: Getty)

The Queen is said to be especially fond of Sophie and Edward

The Queen is said to be especially fond of Sophie and Edward (Image: Getty)

The monarch allegedly meant this as a compliment as she favours discretion as a trait within a public figure.

In contrast, Meghan sparked some surprise when she told ITV: “Not many people have asked if I’m okay.”

In the same interview, Meghan also dismantled the “stiff upper lip” mantra which is synonymous with the Royal Family, who famously believe its members should “never explain, never complain”.

She told Mr Bradby that she believed that attitude to be “internally damaging”, indicating that she was not willing to push herself into the Royal Family’s mould — unlike her aunt-in-law, Sophie.

Sophie has rarely stepped out of line since her leaked remarks from 2001 meant she had to renounce her role at the PR firm.

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Like Meghan and Harry, she declined the Queen’s offer to provide their children with HRH titles.

But, while Archie does not have any aristocratic titles at all, Sophie’s daughter is known as Lady Louise Windsor and her son is James, Viscount Severn.

Sophie and Meghan at Royal Ascot races in 2019

Sophie and Meghan at Royal Ascot races in 2019 (Image: Getty)

Meghan chatting with Edward at her last royal engagement in March 2020

Meghan chatting with Edward at her last royal engagement in March 2020 (Image: Getty)

Ms Seward said friends believed Sophie had become more relaxed since becoming a mother, although the “scars of the public humiliation remain”.

Meghan and Harry have become more wary of the spotlight since their son Archie was born back in 2019, and have often indicated that his welfare is at the forefront of their actions.

Although Sophie is pipped to amplify her image to fill the gap left by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, the Countess has dismantled such claims.

She told journalist Christina Lamb: “We’ve got our little portfolios.

“I don’t see anything changing, but if we’re asked to do more… I don’t know, because it hasn’t really happened.”

She added: “I am pretty busy already, so I’m not sure how much more I can do.”

Sophie is also one of the few royals to offer up her opinion about Meghan and Harry’s exit.

Speaking last year, she said: “I just hope they will be happy.”


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