Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Royal Profile: Sophie, The Countess of Wessex

Sophie Helen Rhys-Jones was  on 20 January 1965 in Oxford as the daughter of Christopher and Mary Rhys-Jones{Source}. She has a older brother, a sister-in-law and two nephews {Source}:
  1. David Rhys-Jones (1963)
    1. Zara Louise (Freeland) Rhys-Jones
      1. Oliver Hugh Rhys-Jones (1999)
      2. Harry Christopher Rhys-Jones (2000)
She was named:
  • Sophie: Mrs Rhys-Jones is said to have decided on the name Sophie while shopping for shoes when pregnant. Someone in the shop called out the name - and a pretty little girl turned around{Source}.
  • Helen: after her paternal Aunt Helen, who died before she was born.
She grew up in Kent{Source}. She attended Dulwich College Preparatory School, Kent College School for Girls & West Kent College {Source}.

After leaving school, Miss Rhys-Jones embarked on a career in public relations working for a variety of firms, including four years at Capital Radio, as well as public relations companies the Quentin Bell Organisation and MacLaurin Communications & Media{Source}. She also worked as a ski representative in Switzerland and spent a year travelling and working in Australia{Source}. In 1996,she launched a public relations agency, R-JH Public Relations, which she ran with a business partner for five years{Source}.
She met her future husband, The Prince Edward, at a tennis event in the summer of 1993{Source}.They announced their engagment in January 1999{Source}.They were wed on 19 June 1999, at St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle{Source}. On the occasion of their marriage, Their Royal Highnesses founded The Wessex Youth Trust, a grant making organization to help, support and advance registered charities which provide opportunities specifically for children and young people{Source}
Together, they have two children{Source}:
  1. The Lady Louise Alice Elizabeth Mary Mountbatten-Windsor (2003)
  2. James Alexander Philip Theo Mountbatten-Windsor, Viscount Severn (2007)
She is godmother to Alexandra Nada Victoria Mountbatten, who is her husband's 4th cousin 2x removed via Queen Victoria.
As the daughter-in-law of the Monarch, she supports various causes.  She supports The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and chairs the Women in Business Group which works to promote the Award among businesses{Source}. The Countess has been the President of Girl Guiding UK since 2003 and supports the work of Tomorrow's People which works to improve opportunities to get young people into employment{Source}. In recent years, The Countess of Wessex has become involved in the world of agriculture and held the position of Show President of the Royal Bath and West Show in 2010 before becoming Vice Patron in 2011{Source}.  She is also Patron of the Association of Show and Agricultural Organisations (ASAO) {Source}. She has accepted patronage of the The Border Union Agricultural Society for its bicentennial year 2013{Source}.The Countess has been a Global Ambassador for the International Agency for Preventative Blindness (IAPB) since 2003{Source}. In 2013 The Countess became the first ever Patron of London College of Fashion, part of the University of the Arts London{Source}.The Countess also works to support the ‘Campaign for Wool’ which was set up by The Prince of Wales and aims to promote the use of British wool{Source}. 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. 

However, The Countess of Wessex is not without scandal! 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."{Source}.

She also supports the United Kingdom's military. In 2006, The Countess of Wessex was appointed Sponsor of HMS Daring{Source}.In 2007, she became Royal Colonel of 5th Battalion The Rifles following the reorganization of the Infantry{Source}.In 2008, Honorary Air Commodore of Royal Air Force Wittering{Source}. She is Colonel-in-Chief of the Corps of Army Music and of Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps{Source}.

The Countess holds two military positions in Canada{Source}: 
  1. Colonel in-Chief of The South Alberta Light Horse
  2. Colonel-in-Chief of the Lincoln and Welland Regiment.
She has been given the following appointments{Source}:
  1. Member of the Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II (2004)
  2. Dame of Justice of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem (DStJ) (2005)
  3. Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO)(2010)
The Countess of Wessex has the following medals{Source}:
  1. Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal (2002)
  2. Commemorative Medal for the Centennial of Saskatchewan (2005)
  3. Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012)

In her spare time, she enjoys walking, running, riding, sailing, tennis and reading{Source}. Her father reportedly gets along well with Queen Elizabeth II {Source} Mr. Rhys-Jones may often be seen in the Royal Enclosure and in the carriages at the Royal Ascot {Photos spanning from 2007-2014} Like her father, she is too close to Queen Elizabeth II {Source}.

Sophie is left-handed. Her lady-in-waiting is Sarah Sienesi, who is her old flatmate {Source}

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