Ever since the drama of Megxit and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve seen Sophie, the Countess of Wessex (55), quietly stepping up in her role as a senior working role.
But just what is it about Prince Edward’s wife that has us catching feels?
Hard working . . . and doesn’t expect praise
Sophie has always gone about her royal duties in an understated way. But with the departure of Prince Harry and Meghan she’s really stepped up to the plate and has been at the forefront of The Firm’s response to the Covid-19 crisis, volunteering for several causes. “She’s been making a difference in a very understated, very ‘Sophie’ way,” says Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine.
She recently joined volunteers to help keep essential workers fed by supplying food to hospitals in the London area. “There’s no fanfare,” says her friend, Peregrine Armstrong-Jones, who owns a catering business. “When she leaves our kitchens, she generally then goes on to do more projects in different hospitals. She just pops up in different places and does things.”Royal expert Ingrid Seward agrees. “Sophie is exactly what the royal family needs. Someone who just gets on with things regardless of the attention they receive.”
Sophie is the daughter of a retired sales director and charity worker/secretary, and isn’t one for special treatment.When she volunteered at the Hope Hub in Camberley recently, she not only prepared food parcels, she delivered them too, the charity’s chief executive, Mags Mercer, says.
“She was so lovely and down-to-earth and genuinely very interested. You wouldn’t necessarily recognise her and wouldn’t expect someone like that to be delivering your food parcels. It was even nicer really that it wasn’t being done for the recognition but because she could genuinely help.“Afterwards, when we told the clients, they were blown away. They would say things like, ‘Oh no, I looked terrible that day,’ or ‘Wow, that’s amazing. How kind.”
Great sense of humour
The countess is quick to laugh at herself, which makes her that much more endearing.
During a recent visit to a fruit farm, she quipped that she’d “eaten her weight in fruit” after picking her own berries. Last year she joked about her “completely inappropriate dress” while planting a tree.
“But one concession I have made today is to wear some really boring shoes because it’s actually been raining a lot and otherwise I would sink. Normally I would sink, teetering across in high-heeled shoes wearing something not geared up for gardening,” she quipped.
The queen’s favourite
Her majesty “adores” her daughter-in-law, insiders say, and Sophie is often described as the queen’s favourite, especially as they share a mutual passion for horses and military history.
“They spend a lot of time together when they’re in Windsor and the Queen loves riding with her grandchildren, James and Louise,” royal expert Katie Nicholl says.
Of course, the fact that they are so similar also helps. The queen admires how Sophie goes about her work duties, which are often not of the “glamorous” variety, in an “unfussy” way, much like she does.
The feeling is mutual and Sophie has praised her mother-in-law in the past, once calling her a “great listener”. “You see her considering what people are saying and you can see the information going in. Clearly she has a great desire to learn all the time,” she told The Sunday Express.
She’s a style icon
Sophie is the epitome of understated elegance and is often hailed as a royal style icon who knows just what to wear on every occasion.
At this year’s Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey – a day royal fans will remember as Harry and Meghan’s final royal engagement – she stunned in a cream and navy dress by London label Suzannah, paired with high heels and a clutch.
Many hailed her as the best-dressed royal of the day, even eclipsing the likes of Meghan and the Duchess of Cambridge.