Unlike some of the other wives in the Royal Family, Sophie came from relatively humble beginnings. The Countess grew up in Kent, where she attended West Kent College to train as a secretary. Sophie and Edward met in 1987 while both working for Capital Radio, before they started dating just six years later. And the rest was history! Sophie is now one of the most trusted and loved members of the Royal Family, highly valued by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh.
Sophie Wessex key moments
Sophie was born Sophie Helen Rhys-Jones at Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford, on January 20, 1965.
Her father, Christopher Bournes Rhys-Jones, is a retired sales director while her mother, Mary Rhys-Jones, was a charity worker and secretary.
The countess has an older brother, David, and she was named after her father’s sister, Helen, who died in a riding accident just five years before Sophie was born.
Sophie began a career in Public Relations, working for a variety of well-known firms and brands, before giving it up for life as a working Royal.
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- The couple visit the Caribbean for the Diamond Jubilee – February and March 2012
- The Earl and Countess represent the Queen on a three-day tour of Gibraltar – June 2012
- The couple visit South Africa – 2013
- Sophie represented the Queen to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Channel Islands – May 2015
- The Countess made first solo trips to India and Qatar – 2017
- Sophie visited Bangladesh on another solo trip – November 2017
- The Countess opens the new dementia-friends unit of Northern Ireland Hospice – January 2018
- Sophie travels to New York to attend the 63rd session of the United Nationals Commission on the Status of Women – March 2019
- Sophie goes to Kosovo to meet victims of sexual violence after the Kosovo war – October 2019
- The Countess becomes the first member of the Royal Family to visit South Sudan – March 2020
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Sophie’s biggest achievements
The Countess’s biggest achievements are likely to be the work she does with her patronages and charities.
In 2000, she became patron of a number of organisations, including Foundation of Light, which develops educational and community football-based programmes in the north of England.
Moved by the death of her friend Jill Dando in 1999, the Countess became a trustee of UCL Jill Dando Institute in 2001.
Sophie established the Women in Business Group in 2003 in support of the Duke of Edinburgh Awards’ aim of reaching more young people.
In 2003, Sophie became patron for the Greater London Fund for the Blind, which raises money for smaller charities for visually impaired people in the capital.
Sophie also has a number of military titles to be proud of, including Canadian titles Colonel-in-Chief of the Lincoln and Welland Regiment and Colonel-in-Chief of the South Alberta Light Horse.
In the UK, Sophie is:
- Colonel-in-Chief of the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps
- Colonel-in-Chief of the Corps of Army music
- Royal Colonel of the 5th Battalion The Rifles
- Honorary Air Commodore Royal Air Force Witter