Sombre Sophie mourns the loss of her beloved mother-in-law: Queen’s confidante the Countess of Wessex – who went from scandal-hit daughter-in-law to Her Majesty’s ‘rock’ – looked emotional on her arrival at Balmoral
- Sophie Wessex rushed to Balmoral to be with the Queen hours before her death with the monarch’s children
- Royal mother-of-two appeared sombre and looked deep in thought as she was driven to the Scottish estate
- Her Majesty’s daughter-in-law Sophie was often been noted as the monarch’s ‘favourite’ family member
- Was one of the monarch’s closest confidante, after she married Prince Edward and they have remained close
- Full coverage: Click here to see all our coverage of the Queen’s passing
She was known as one of the Queen’s closest confidantes, and today the Countess of Wessex appeared deeply emotional as she was driven to Balmoral, hours before the monarch’s death was announced.
Her Majesty’s daughter-in-law Sophie, 56, was often been noted as the monarch’s ‘favourite’ family member after she married Prince Edward, and her ‘rock’ after the death of Prince Phil last year.
She ran her own PR company before marrying Prince Edward and earned the Queen’s trust by throwing herself into Royal life.
Sophie’s current royal reputation is a far cry from the turmoil that followed the countess early on in her marriage, when she was still running her own public relations consultancy.
A ‘royals for hire’ storm was sparked after she posed beside a Rover 75 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, having secured a £250,000 contract to publicise it.
However in recent years, former aides have previously described the Queen’s relationship with Sophie – who lost her own mother, Mary, in 2005 – as ‘like mother and daughter’, adding: ‘There is a great deal of love and mutual respect between them.’
And in 2021, a tearful Countess described the queen as ‘amazing’ as she and her husband Prince Edward comforted Her Majesty at Windsor Castle following the death of her husband Prince Philip.
Today, she was photographed alongside Prince William, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, as they rushed to Balmoral to be with the Queen amid her health woes.
The royal mother-of-two appeared deep in thought and was sombre as she rode in the back of the car alongside her fellow royals.
The Queen, who was the country’s longest running monarch, died today at the age of 96 at Balmoral in Scotland.
The Countess of Wessex, who was known as the Queen’s ‘rock’ and one of her closest confidantes, rushed to Balmoral today to be with the monarch hours before her death was announced
Her Majesty’s daughter-in-law Sophie, 56, was often been noted as the monarch’s ‘favourite’ family member and closest confidante, after she married Prince Edward
Sophie appeared emotional in the back of the car driving to Balmoral this afternoon with her husband Prince Edward
Sophie lives at Bagshot Park in Surrey, with Edward and their two children James, Viscount Severn, 12, and Lady Louise Windsor, 16. She was recognised to be the Queen’s favourite royal.
It was often Sophie who’s picked to travel with the Queen when she was attending church services at either Sandringham or Balmoral.
She won the coveted spot because the monarch ‘found her presence soothing’ and liked to be ‘completely calm before church’.
It was believed that the mother was seen by the Queen as the Royal Family’s safest pair of hands, because her marriage to Prince Edward has lasted, while Charles, Anne and Andrew have all been divorced.
One former aide described the Queen’s relationship with Sophie – who lost her own mother, Mary, in 2005 – as ‘like mother and daughter’ (pictured together in February 2015 at a reception at Buckingham Palace)
The Queen and Sophie’s close bond was said to be down to their similar interests, with the pair often spending Saturday or Sunday evenings together at Windsor, watching old war films and historical documentaries.
Sophie, who was brought up in Kent by a tyre company executive father and a secretary mother, was even thought to have convinced the Queen to watch The Crown – suggesting she might enjoy the Netflix series which is based on her reign.
She is patron of more than 70 organizations, focusing largely on the rights of women and girls across the world.
Writing for Town and Country, royal journalist and author Victoria Murphy pointed out, that on International Women’s Day 2019 Sophie stood up in Buckingham Palace and vowed to devote herself to championing and supporting women peace-builders and the victims of sexual violence in conflict.
‘Her work does not regularly receive the kind of media attention that the younger royals command, but Sophie, now 55, has become a stalwart member of the “firm”,’ Murphy wrote, adding: ‘The spotlight on Sophie has intensified in the vacuum left as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle step back.’
Meanwhile people who have worked with the Countess of Wessex on a professional level told Murphy that they admired her ability to say what she thinks while still remaining polite.
The couple were the first to visit the grieving Monarch after the Duke of Edinburgh’s death, and as they left the castle Sophie was visibly upset
Her Majesty’s daughter-in-law Sophie, 56, was often been noted as the monarch’s ‘favourite’ family member and closest confidante, after she married Prince Edward (pictured together at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in May 2022)
Sophie Countess of Wessex, Prince Edward Earl of Wessex with Queen Elizabeth II Ceremony of the Keys, Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK in June this year
Amanda Pullinger, CEO of 100 Women in Finance, insisted Sophie ‘really is down to earth’. She said: ‘She actually presents herself as an ordinary person and I think that is increasingly what the royal family needs to do.
‘It’s interesting—she’s not nicey nicey. Of course she’s polite, but she’ll tell you what she thinks. If she disagrees she’ll say, and she’s done it to me a number of times.
In a passionate speech at Buckingham Palace in 2020, Sophie said she was ‘drawn’ to help place women and girls at the heart of ‘resolution’ conflict and would ‘make this a central pillar of my work in the coming months and years.’
Addressing an audience of key figures in women’s peacebuilding from around the world, include representatives from government, NGOs, charities and academia, she said: ‘Good afternoon and may I begin by wishing you all a happy International Women’s Day.
The Queen, who was the country’s longest running monarch, died today at the age of 96 at Balmoral in Scotland
Sophie’s determination saw her take on full-time royal duties, and embrace rural pursuits beloved by the royals, such as riding, fishing, shooting game and carriage driving.
In recent years, she has been a rock for the Queen. Speaking in 2021, one friend said: ‘Sophie set herself a series of tasks. She learned how to ride properly and now rides with the Queen at least once a week.
‘She took up carriage-driving to be close to Philip. She had her own series of scandals before her marriage when she was accused of cashing in on her Royal connections, but she calmly put all that behind her and has been an exemplary daughter-in-law.’
Sophie previously explained to the Telegraph how these visits during lockdown involved the Queen standing on a 20ft high balcony and waving down.
The couple were the first to visit the grieving Monarch after the Duke of Edinburgh’s death, and as they left the castle Sophie was visibly upset.
Sophie, who was oft described as like another daughter to the Queen, appeared emotional in the back of the car driving to Balmoral
At the time, she was described as one of a group of four who were providing support for the monarch.
‘Sophie is like another daughter to the Queen, they are that close,’ said a Royal source. ‘She is trusted and relied on like few others.’
And speaking in June last year, royal expert Duncan Larcombe told The Sun: ‘Sophie has emerged as the Queen’s unlikely “rock” as the monarch adjusts to life without Prince Philip.’
‘Prince Edward’s wife has – according to sources – made it her personal mission to ensure Her Majesty is fully supported by the family.
‘Since the Duke’s death in April, Sophie has driven the 10 miles from her Bagshot Park home to Windsor Castle every few days and most weekends to spend socially-distanced time with Her Majesty.’
For the days she can’t make it to see the Queen in person, the Countess ‘has made a point of calling her mother-in-law at least once a day’.
She arrived at Balmoral earlier this afternoon alongside the Duke of Cambridge, Duke of York and Earl of Wessex.
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