Royal Family Tree: who's who in the British Royal Family

Sophie, Countess of Wessex


Sophie, Countess of Wessex (19 January 2011) © Tim Rooke/Rex Features
Sophie, Countess of Wessex (19 January 2011) © Tim Rooke/Rex Features
Sophie, Countess of Wessex

Name: Sophie Helen (née Rhys-Jones)
Title: Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex
Born: 20 January 1965
Parents: Christopher Bournes Rhys-Jones and Mary (née O'Sullivan)
Married: Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex
Children: Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn

Sophie, Countess of Wessex is 11th cousin once removed of her husband Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, through Nicholas St John of Lydiard Tregoze and his wife, Elizabeth (née Blount, a relative of royal mistress Elizabeth Blount) - their common ancestors.

Sophie was born to middle-class parents. Though a descendant of King Henry II of France, the family are common by law. Her father, Christopher Bournes Rhys-Jones, was a salesman and her mother, Mary (who passed away in 2005) was a secretary.

Sophie was schooled at Dulwich Preparatory School and Kent College, Pembury. She studied at West Kent College, Tonbridge to become a secretary but her eventual career path took her a different route.

She started out in public relations working for a range of clients from films to Capital Radio and in 1996 she launched her very own PR agency.

Sophie and Edward courted for five years before becoming engaged. The Sun newspaper published a photo of Sophie exposing her breast with radio presenter Chris Tarrant taken some eleven years previously just before the wedding.

The Sun were forced to apologize and give their syndication profits to charity.

The move forced Sophie and Edward to marry in the public eye - they had hoped for a more private ceremony than that of Edward's older siblings.

Sophie and Edward were married on the 19th June 1999 at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle.

Following the marriage, Miss Sophie Rhys-Jones became Countess of Wessex and her husband Earl of Wessex and Viscount of Severn - a nod to Sophie's Welsh ancestry. The married couple officially moved in together in Bagshot Park, Surrey.

In 2001, Sophie, Countess of Wessex was admitted to hospital suffering from a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy.

She became pregnant again two years later but again their were complications. On 8th November 2003, due to a sudden placental abruption, Sophie delivered Lady Louise by caesarean section, two months premature. Lady Louise was born with eye disorder exotropia.

The couple's second child was born in 17 December 2007. A healthy baby boy, James, Viscount Severn was also born by caesarean section. Prince Edward described the birth as "a lot calmer than last time".

Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex made an agreement with the Queen, that their children would use the surname Windsor and would not inherit the styles of Prince or Princess that they would have been entitled to under the Letters Patent from Charles VI. They will also not be known as royal highness but instead be given courtesy titles.

Both Edward and Sophie work in the Queen's service having given up their respective careers following another scandal.

Sophie has a close relationship with Elizabeth II but was taped making disparaging remarks about other royal family members and it was suggest she was using her royal status to garner business for her PR agency.

Along with her royal duties Sophie, Countess of Wessex has also became patron of a number of organizations, such as Girlguiding UK and the SAFC Foundation (the charitable arm of Sunderland AFC).


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