Tuesday, August 16, 2011

46 Facts about Sophie, The Countess of Wessex

While Katie Nicholl and crew @GMA would say, unequivocally, that 2011 has been the Year of The Duchess of Cambridge, we at @TheRoyalFanzine have something to say about that! Of course, it is true that the Royal Duchess Formerly Known as Catherine Elizabeth Middleton has had more magazine covers than her 17-years-older aunt-in-law. As Catherine Middleton alone--forget about her marital covers--she was on the cover of People magazine, and even made Vanity Fair's best-dressed list, almost every year of the last decade. Sophie? Sure, she's been mentioned in those magazines a few times. She was even on the cover of People at the times of her engagement and marriage to Prince Edward in 1999. But mostly, she's lucky to be on the cover of Majesty or Hello! I mean, let's face it. Most People readers are likely to furrow their brows in some confusion if you ask them what they think about Sophie, The Countess of Wessex.
-Sophie? Countess of Where?
-Prince Edward's wife.
-Prince Edward? Which one is he again?
-Fourth kid, third son of The Queen. You know, the Queen of The United Kingdom?
-Oh right. Um.
That pretty much says it all. Yet she's been a royal wife, and the only daughter-in-law of Her Majesty The Queen, for twelve years. Her 12th wedding anniversary was on 19 June. She still hasn't been an HRH as long as Diana--whose divorce from The Prince of Wales became final after 15 years of disaster--and Captain Mark Phillips was married to The Princess Royal (bka, Princess Anne) for 19 years. In December 2012, Princess Anne will celebrate 20 years of marriage to Sir Timothy Laurence, a vice-admiral of the Royal Navy who, bless him, hasn't even been on the cover of Majesty. That's no reflection on Timmy, mind you. Gentlemen, even the ones married to princesses, are as profitable to magazines, even the ones devoted to royalty, as are ladies. In fact, the only royal men who are top cash cows are the ones whose mothers are cash cows--Prince William, Prince Harry, Andrea Casiraghi, Pierre Casiraghi--because they, and their mothers, have a certain je ne sais quoi. Oh, sure, Carl Philip and Amedeo do all right for, respectively, Sweden and Belgium. But we're way off topic here. This is supposed to be about Sophie.

12 years of marriage. Successful marriage, mind you. Nine years of full-time royal service. And only one tabloid scandal to date. That's not too shabby when you compare Sophie's royal years to the Di-and-Fergie rollercoaster ride of the 1980s and 90s. There have been some bumps in the road--ectopic pregnancy, two high-risk Caesarean births, a broken rib, loss of her shoe at Royal Ascot--all got through with minimal trauma. The ectopic pregnancy didn't kill her; the Caesarean births resulted in two wickedly cute children without any apparent deformities; the broken rib was painful, but didn't prevent her attendance at the "royal wedding of the century"; and the shoe was quickly recovered by a passing Good Samaritan. Well, there was that time, shortly before William's wedding, when Sophie was papped on the street getting "a bit tetchy" with her bodyguard. The Mail on Sunday quoted "a source" saying Sophie "does have a temper and tends to take it out on the person nearest to her. She’s not timid, not at all. She happily gives it out with both barrels. She can be rather grand, much grander than her husband, Edward." {More} Isn't it annoying when cowards gossip about people and don't even have the guts the do it on the record? What spineless "source" ratted Sophie out to the Mail on Sunday royal reporter? Hey, here's a thought! What if it was the bodyguard? How's that for getting even?

Despite the occasional public gaffe, and in spite of not being a royal cash cow for the mainstream media, Sophie seems to have what you might call staying power. She doesn't make waves, but she's not drowning. She's not trying to surf. She's just swimming, and for the most, she swims outside of the "lamestream" radar. She's better known, surely, than the Duchess of Gloucester, but still much beyond the radar of the readers of Catherine-obsessed People magazine. And yet, Sophie beat Catherine by 1195 reader votes in a recent poll in Hello! magazine. The poll asked readers to vote for the most fashionable lady guest at Zara Phillips's wedding. Sophie got the crown! It goes to show that the readers' choice doesn't always match the hype.

And now, without further ado, the 46 things:
  1. Sophie Helen Rhys-Jones was born in Oxford on 20 January 1965.
  2. She is the daughter of Christopher Bournes Rhys-Jones, a retired tire salesman, and his wife, Mary, a secretary.
  3. She has an older brother named David.
  4. Sophie was named after her paternal Aunt Helen, who died before she was born.
  5. Sophie was educated at Dulwich Preparatory School; Kent College, Pembury; West Kent College, Tonbridge.
  6. At West Kent College, she trained as a secretary.
  7. She began a career in public relations, working for four years at Capital Radio, where she was assigned to the press and promotions department.
  8. She later worked @ the PR firms of The Quentin Bell Organisation and MacLaurin Communications & Media.
  9. She spent time working abroad, first in Switzerland as a "ski rep" and then traveling through Australia.
  10. In 1996, with enough professional experience to beef up her CV, she & Murray Harkin launched their mutual PR agency, RJH Public Relations.
  11. In 2001, a News of the World undercover reporter (the same guy who scammed Sarah Ferguson on videotape in May 2010) recorded the Countess making disparaging comments about certain members of the British government. News of the World didn't publish the story itself, but the tape was leaked to other tabloids, first the Mail on Sunday, and it went viral from there. It portrayed the Countess seeming to use her royal status in order to gain clientele. Buckingham Palace released a statement saying the reported comments were "selective, distorted and in several cases, flatly untrue." 
  12. After a very stressful couple of years for the couple, in 2002, the royal Earl and Countess announced that they would quit their business interests (Prince Edward resigned from his documentary work @ Ardent Productions) in order to focus on royal duties and aid the Queen in her Golden Jubilee year.
  13. Sophie is left-handed.
  14. Sophie Rhys-Jones and Prince Edward began dating in 1993. Sophie Rhys-Jones met Prince Edward, the Queen's third and youngest son, at a game of Real Tennis. One of her colleagues at MacLaurin  Communications had to cancel meeting with Edward for the charity game, and Sophie was assigned to be the replacement.
  15. As a royal girlfriend throughout the 90s, Sophie Rhys-Jones was sometimes a paparazzi target, going about her business in London, but it was nothing like Lady Diana's or Kate Middleton's experiences.
  16. Sophie Rhys-Jones, as a royal girlfriend, lived in the same flat complex where Lady Diana Spencer lived before her royal engagement. This was Coleherne Court in the very posh Earl's Court neighborhood of London.
  17. On 14 July 1994, Prince Edward brought Sophie as his +1 to his cousin Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones' wedding to Daniel Chatto. Sophie was pictured on the steps of St. Stephen's Church, London talking to Diana, who was still HRH the Princess of Wales. But Diana, being separated from Prince Charles, arrived separately from him, and she was seen entering the cathedral at the same time as Sophie. This picture was included inside Andrew Morton's book Diana: Her New Life.
  18. Prince Edward was one of Diana's few really good friends in the royal family and Sophie had a good relationship with her as well. 
  19. Prince Edward and Sophie finally announced their engagement on 6 January 1999.
  20. For their wedding stamp, issued by the Royal Mail, Sophie and Edward wore matching black turtlenecks.
  21. They got married on 19 June 1999 at St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.
  22. As a royal bride, Sophie's "something borrowed" was a diamond tiara from the Queen's private collection.{pics and more info}
  23. For "something blue" she was covered amply: 1) her eyes, 2) the chapel's aisle carpet, 3) a chapel full of "blue bloods!" 
  24. The Countess supported to the Born in Bradford research project in 2006, which carries out research into causes of low birth weight and infant mortality and is particularly involved with charities relating to children, disabilities and communication problems.
  25. She is also a trustee of both the Jill Dando Fund and the Haven Trust.
  26. Sophie suffered a dangerous ectopic pregnancy in 2001.
  27. Sophie gave birth to her first child, Lady Louise Alice Elizabeth Mary Mountbatten-Windsor via emergency Cesarean section on 8 November 2003 at 23:32 GMT at Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey.
  28. Sophie gave birth, also by C-section, to her second child, James Alexander Philip Theo Mountbatten-Windsor, Viscount Severn at 16:20 UTC on 17 December 2007 at Frimley Park Hospital.
  29. The Countess enjoys a special closeness to her mother-in-law, the Queen, with whom she rides and shares an interest in military history. (Edward is also a keen rider.)
  30. Sophie, like Edward, also loves skiing. Annually, the couple take their kids to ski at the Swiss resort of St. Moritz. (See #9.)
  31. And more about skiing: Sophie eagerly tags along with Edward in his "duties" (I want those "duties"!) as patron of the British Ski and Snowboard Federation. (They've tried their feet at snowboarding, by the way. #JustSayin'.)
  32. The Countess enjoys the rare privilege to ride in the State Limousine with HM The Queen at Sandringham on Christmas Day.
  33. She has received the following appointments, orders and decorations since her marriage
    1. Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II (2004)
    2. Dame of Justice of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem (DStJ) (2005)
    3. Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (2010, GCVO)
    4. Saskatchewan Centennial Medal (June 2005)
  34. She has the following honorary military appointments in both Canada and the United Kingdom:
    1. Colonel-in-Chief of the South Alberta Light Horse
    2. Colonel-in-Chief of the Lincoln and Welland Regiment
    3. Colonel-in-Chief of the Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps
    4. Royal Colonel of the 5th Battalion The Rifles
    5. Honorary Air Commodore Royal Air Force Wittering, Ship's Sponsor of HMS Daring
  35. Sophie's style and title in full: Her Royal Highness The Princess Edward Antony Richard Louis, Countess of Wessex, Viscountess Severn, Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, Dame of Justice of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem
  36. In 2003, Sophie succeeded the late Queen Mother (who died the previous year) as Royal Patron of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists. Sophie is only the third Royal Patron of the RCSLT. The first was King George VI, the second the late Queen Mother.
  37. She resides with her children, and husband at Bagshot Park, Surrey.
  38. She lost her shoe while attending the Royal Ascot in 2010. The shoe was promptly retrieved and returned by a person standing nearby.
  39. She is said to have hired a trainer to "keep up with the younger royals".
  40. She was injured  in a riding accident days prior to her nephew Prince William of Wales's wedding to Catherine Middleton. It was reported that she broke a rib, and bruised several others. Even though she was in great pain, she chose not to miss her nephew's wedding, where her daughter was a bridesmaid.
  41. She has royal ancestry as a descendant of Henry II of France, and both Welsh and Scottish ancestry.
  42. Sophie is the 11th cousin once removed (why don't people just say 12th cousin? Is there really such a difference between an 11th and a 12th cousin? It's barely a relation at all!) of her husband, through their common ancestors Nicholas St John of Lydiard Tregoze and his wife, Elizabeth (née Blount, a relative of royal mistress Elizabeth Blount).
  43. She wore a red dress by Bruce Oldfield for the wedding eve party for Prince William and Catherine Middleton.
  44. She again wore a creation by Bruce Oldfield for Zara's wedding to Mike Tindall on 30 July.
  45. She has an iPhone.
  46. 2011 has been the Year of Her Favorite Nude Pumps. They look a lot like Catherine's LK Bennett ones. Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie each have a similar pair, though Eugenie's pair are peep-toe. This plays well to the idea that Sophie is trying to keep up with her fashion-conscious nieces.


  1. Sophie is my favourite member in the British Royal Family .. She is lovely, caring and modest.. I think she was treated unfairly for many years, but eventually proved herself..

    1. She's mine too of the British Royals. I agree. And she works hard and actually cares.


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