Biography

After Wikipedia – The Countess’ biography

Sophie Helen Rhys-Jones was born at Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford, on 20 January 1965. Sophie was raised in Brenchley, Kent. She began her education at Dulwich Preparatory School, before moving on to Kent College, Pembury, where she was friends with Sarah Sienesi, with whom she subsequently shared a flat in Fulham and who later became her lady-in-waiting. She then trained as a secretary at West Kent College, Tonbridge.
Scan from book
scan from book “Invitation to a Royal Wedding” by P. Donnelly
Sophie began a career in public relations, working for a variety of firms, including four years at Capital Radio, where she was assigned to the press and promotions department, as well as public relations companies The Quentin Bell Organisation and MacLaurin Communications & Media. She also worked as a ski representative in Switzerland and spent a year travelling and working in Australia. In 1996, Sophie Rhys-Jones launched her public relations agency, RJH Public Relations, which she ran with her business partner, Murray Harkin till 2001.

In 2002, both the Earl and Countess announced that they would quit their business interests in order to focus on royal duties and aid the Queen in her Golden Jubilee year.
The Earl and Countess of Wessex are the primary representatives of The Queen at foreign royal events, especially marriages of heirs apparent.

Sophie met Prince Edward, the youngest son of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, at a tennis charity event in 1993, and the two began their relationship soon afterwards. Their engagement was announced on 6 January 1999. The wedding took place on 19 June of the same year at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, a break from the weddings of Edward’s older siblings, which were large, formal events at Westminster Abbey or St Paul’s Cathedral.

On the day of their marriage, the Queen created Edward Earl of Wessex and Viscount Severn and declared that he would eventually be created Duke of Edinburgh once that title reverts to the Crown. After the union, the couple moved to Bagshot Park, in Surrey.

After the death of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother in 2002, Sophie became the woman ranking second highest in the U.K.’s order of precedence, preceded only by the Queen, as her brothers-in-law, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York, were then unmarried. Due to marriages of the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge and changes in favour of princesses by blood for private occasions, Sophie now ranks after her sisters-in-law, the Princess Royal and the Duchess of Cornwall, her nieces, Beatrice and Eugenie, her niece-in-law Catherine and her mother-in-law’s cousin Alexandra. At official occasions, however, she ranks third, behind only her mother-in-law and sister-in-law.

In December 2001, Countess was taken to the King Edward VII Hospital after feeling unwell, whereupon it was discovered that she was suffering from a potentially life-threatening ectopic pregnancy. Countess’ doctor was Mr Marcus Setchell, who recently took care of Duchess of Cambridge, during her pregnancy.

Two years later, on 8 November 2003, Countess prematurely gave birth to her daughter, Louise, resulting from a sudden placental abruption that placed both mother and child at risk, and the Countess had to undergo an emergency caesarean section at Frimley Park Hospital, while the Earl of Wessex rushed back from Mauritius.

The Countess returned to Frimley Park Hospital on 17 December 2007, to give birth, again by caesarean section, to her son, James, Viscount Severn.

Letters patent issued in 1917 (and still remaining in force today) assign a princely status and the style of Royal Highness to all male-line grandchildren of a monarch. Therefore, all else being equal, Louise would have been styled as Her Royal Highness Princess Louise of Wessex. However, per prior agreement between the Queen and their parents, the children will either not have or not use (depending on interpretation) the title of Prince(ss), nor the style Royal Highness. They are styled as Lady and Viscount.

Sophie’s full royal title: Her Royal Highness The Princess Edward Antony Richard Louis, Countess of Wessex, Viscountess Severn.

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