The Countess opens up to royal editor Camilla Tominey about her work, fashion and secret challenge….

Rememeber when exactly a week ago, I shared notes on the world exclusive interview with HRH The Countess of Wessex by Camilla Tominey? Actually, it was only preview to what came next. Today, in The Sunday Express we can read the extend edition of an interview, in which Sophie reveales her secret challenge!….   

What is it??! I hear you scream, no worries, we’ll get back to that later. First things first.
via Margaret Hussey‘s Twitter feed. Editor, S Magazine & Sunday Express.

What it’s like to talk to The Countess?
In Camilla’s words: “Despite being one of the most senior members of the Royal Family and one of the Queen’s closest confidantes, Sophie is by far the most approachable Windsor you’ll ever meet. Honest and self-deprecating, HRH talks from the heart over a cup of tea…”.

Fashion, is it really important or not?
We all know that HRH was chosen by Vanity Fair, as one of The ‘Best Dressed‘ people in 2015. How she feels about it? “I know, how surprising was that! I kept on reading the names, thinking, are they sure they’re not thinking of someone else?” From the bottom of my heart, there wasn’t any mistake in that list. It was one of the best choices.

We have noticed over the years, the turn of Sophie’s fashion, towards more forward and bold choices with millinery, dresses and accessories. And it works for HRH. She was always respected for her work ethic, maybe not always recognized, but that’s different story. Now, people started noticing, not only brains but also looks. Those two can certainly work together, and only with advantage for the person in question.

Sophie says: “I know what I like and what I don’t like, but I have never had a stylist.
I have a couple of favourite places for clothes and I’ve being going to Jane [Taylor] for years.”

In early days “It was all about my clients, not me. It’s still not about me, it’s about my charities but I recognise that I’m on display. I remember having a chat with somebody and them saying, ‘You know you’ve got to recognise that this is part and parcel of what you’re doing.

When you walk into a room, yes people are going to talk about what you’re doing there, but they’re also going to want to know what you’re wearing.’ I sort of wrestled with that one for a little while and slightly caved in at the end of the day.”

About work ethic, something that has drawn me so much towards HRH.
The Countess supports 78 organizations as a Patron, President, Ambassador. HRH is particularly involved with charities relating to children, disabilities and communication problems.
From article: ‘those who have worked with her can vouch, when Sophie commits to a charity, she doesn’t do it by halves. Determined to be more than just a figurehead, she has often chosen causes to which she has a personal connection…’.
I’m drawn to those causes by the mere fact that they are difficult.” A lot of them do find themselves under the radar. They’re hard to raise money for. But they are good fun as well. I spend a lot of time visiting special needs schools and meeting people with learning difficulties and physical incapacity – and it is hugely rewarding.”

How to get that perfect balance in work? 
Over time I went from wanting to be incredibly involved with all my charities, which I have to say, used to be met with a certain amount of consternation. ‘How involved is involved – what do you mean by that?’ to actually realising that my influence, for want of a better description, is probably in getting people together – and that’s something that I did throughout my PR career.” – The Countess said. 

Does HM The Queen inspire HRH?
Watching the Queen in certain situations – she’s a great listener. And you see her considering what people are saying and you can see the information going in, and she clearly has a great desire to learn all the time. I think that’s amazing at 89, with all she’s seen and done in her life.”
In return, ‘royal insiders say Her Majesty has huge admiration for the way her Sophie has quietly carved out a role for herself, often without fanfare’.

Was it hard for HRH to be a fully-working royal? Was she prepared for it?
Initially, when I first started to do full-time engagements, I sort of had to start paddling my own canoe a bit and carving out my own style. You can’t expect people to think you’re going to suddenly know what you’re doing. It took time.”
So yes, it must have been very hard, but since 2002, we all can say, The Countess has never put a foot wrong.

Is Sophie an expert in some matters?
I don’t claim to be an expert in any one of the fields I’m involved in. I listen and I learn. Other people are the experts – but if I can get one expert talking to another who can create a solution, then that’s great.”
However, I did notice that HRH is certainly incredibly knowledgeable about her pet subjects, and she can impress people very much. I also mentioned many times that HRH is an amazing speaker. She may have ‘jelly legs’ underneath, but when you look at her speak, you hear wisdom and experience.
About the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme and that secret challenge…
We all know that it is a matter close to Sophie’s heart, not only because Prince Edward will one day inherit his father’s legacy. Or that TRH’s will be styled as The Duke and The Duchess of Edinburgh in the future.

HRH is an Ambassador for the Award, and she has witnessed first hand how it has changed young lives around the world. HRH says “That was why my father-in-law was so clever, he didn’t create something that was prescriptive. He created an opportunity for young people to be in control of what it was that they were choosing to do. No one else was doing that activity, that volunteering, going on that expedition. The sense of achievement is completely owned by them and the self-confidence that they gain from that is absolutely priceless.”

So, this bring me back to HRH’s secret challenge. I have read some time ago, that The Duke of Edinburgh Award has launched The DofE Diamond Challenge. It is inspired by the DofE Award, and it’s asking you to take on your own adventure, personal or skill challenge. The best part is, that it’s open to anyone of any age, anywhere!

But what does it mean to HRH?
“There are things that I would love to tell you right now but I can’t! What I will say is that it is a personal challenge like no other. At this stage I’m getting worried that I have bitten off more than I can chew. It’s going to be very physically demanding. You can come with me!”

As article explains: ‘Contrary to reports, Sophie does not have a personal trainer, but keeps fit with a combination of running, Pilates and gym work, although she does admit she can sometimes lack discipline’.
She says “I’m a bit of a fair-weather runner to be perfectly honest. If it’s really freezing cold or raining outside, I look at it and think, ‘Hmmn, maybe coffee!

It’s official, next year HRH will undertake her daredevil feat to mark the Duke of Edinburgh Award’s 60th anniversary. “Well, I never did the scheme so maybe after I have done it, they’ll pin a little badge on me.”

Frankly, I did wonder about the challenge for myself, but full time job and running two blogs gives me little space for anything extra… However, I will think some more… as HRH is a constant source of inspiration to me.

But back to Camilla Tominey, HRH and that wonderful interview, you can read it online, by clicking here. Or you can buy a special edition of S Magazine.

3 thoughts on “The Countess opens up to royal editor Camilla Tominey about her work, fashion and secret challenge….

  1. Anonymous

    Couldn't agree more with you Anna ! HRH, is an inspiration ! She's all about the 'doing' and none of the glory ! It's such a shame we don't get to see, and hear her give her various speeches !
    Thanks for the post Anna, thoroughly enjoyed reading it ! 🙂


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