HRH The Countess of Wessex turned 50 years old on January 20th. Shocking, I know, because she doesn’t look a day over 35. In fact, she looks the same way she did in this photo above back in 2003.
The official birthday photos are amazing. With her blond hair coiffed neatly around her shoulders, the Countess of Wessex smiles serenely for photographer Richard Young. Sophie’s sparkling blue eyes reveal a soul content with life. She will celebrate sixteen years of marriage to the Earl of Wessex (Prince Edward) this June, and delights in their two young children, Louise and James.
The Wessexes are extremely blessed with their two children – Louise’s birth was a difficult one, and she arrived several weeks premature. Sophie had to undergo an emergency Cesarean, after which baby Louise remained in the neonatal unit of the hospital for several weeks. Now at the age of 11, Louise is happy, healthy, and thriving.
James’ birth was less dramatic (Prince Edward remarked that it “was much calmer than last time”) but just as special and important. Now 7 years old, the young lad is the image of his mother, but with darker hair. He will inherit the title Earl of Wessex when his father becomes the Duke of Edinburgh.
The two children are not Royal Highnesses, but instead go by the titles of the children of an Earl. James is Viscount Severn, and Louise is officially designated as “Lady”. Both children are adored by their grandmother, the Queen.
The Countess also has a good relationship with the Queen. Both women share a love of horses and riding, and both have a similar sense of humor. Sophie’s discretion has also been a boon to her relationship with Her Majesty, though the Countess did have a slight public relations hiccup in the very beginning of her royal life.
A couple of years into her marriage, Sophie was still working for the public relations firm she co-founded. Meeting with someone whom she assumed was a potential client, Sophie let down her guard and spoke about members of the Royal Family and other public figures.
The Countess referred to then-Prime Minister Tony Blair as “ignorant of the countryside” and that his wife Cherie was “horrid”. She then casually described her mother-in-law as “an old dear”. They were ultimately harmless remarks, but the backlash Sophie received taught her the greatest lesson about being a member of “The Firm”: don’t air your views, no matter how innocent you think they are.
The Queen was very forgiving. Since then, Sophie has worked hard to represent the royal family with dignity and discretion. The Countess has also maintained a dignified silence over public figures and her in-laws! Now at age 50, Sophie is one of the most admired members of the monarchy and described as the Queen’s favorite daughter-in-law.
Happy birthday to the Countess, and here’s to many more!