15 facts about the Queen's daughter-in-law Sophie Wessex

Sophie, Countess of Wessex, celebrates another year as she turns 51 on Jan. 20, and the Queen's popular daughter-in-law is expected to mark the occasion privately with family and friends. The mother of two is married to the Queen's youngest son, Prince Edward.

To honour the big day, HELLO! Online has gathered 15 facts you may not have known about the popular countess.


The Countess is the second child of Christopher Bournes Rhys-Jones and his wife Mary.

  1. Sophie Helen Rhys-Jones was born at Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford on Jan. 20, 1965. She is the second child of Christopher Bournes Rhys-Jones and his wife, Mary.
  2. Sophie was brought up in Brenchley, Kent, and attended Dulwich Preparatory School. The independent school counts junior triathlete champion Oliver Freeman and Tana Ramsay among its alumni.
  3. Sophie then attended Kent College where she became friends with Sarah Sienesi, with whom she shared a flat in London and who later became her lady-in-waiting.
  4. Sophie met her future husband, Prince Edward, in 1993 at a tennis event.

  5. Sophie met Prince Edward during a charity tennis event in 1993 and the couple dated for six years before announcing their engagement on Jan. 6, 1999. Her engagement ring, which features a two-carat oval diamond flanked by two heart-shaped gemstones, was made by jeweller to the royals Asprey and Garrard, and its estimated value is £105,000.
  6. The couple's wedding took place on June 19, 1999 ,at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. Royalty from around the world, including Queen Anne-Marie of Greece and Prince Joachim of Denmark, attended the ceremony, which was watched by an estimated 200 million people worldwide. The couple's wedding cake was decorated with tennis rackets reflecting their love for the sport and how they met.
  7. The Queen's son proposed with a two-carat oval diamond flanked by two heart-shaped gemstones.

  8. Since becoming a member of the Royal Family, the countess has performed more than 3,000 royal engagements. In 2015, Sophie took part in 218 engagements, which included 49 overseas.
  9. Like the Duchess of Cambridge, Sophie's first overseas tour was to Canada. Sophie and her husband appropriately visited Prince Edward Island in 2000.
  10. Sophie once revealed that she couldn't find her seat at a state banquet at Buckingham Palace minutes before the Queen was due to speak. "I shan't forget the look I got when I couldn't find my chair and she was looking to do her speech," the countess joked during ITV's documentary Our Queen. "I decided I might study the notes a little more carefully next time."
  11. The couple's wedding cake was decorated with tennis rackets reflecting how they met.

  12. Sophie has become a close friend of Monaco's Princess Charlene. The royal wives were spotted catching up at Princess Madeleine of Sweden's wedding in 2013 and the Monaco Grand Prix in 2012.
  13. Her full royal title is Her Royal Highness The Princess Edward, Countess of Wessex, Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, Dame of Justice of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem. She will eventually become the Duchess of Edinburgh when Edward inherits the title Duke of Edinburgh.
  14. On Nov. 8, 2003, Sophie gave birth to her and Edward's first child, Lady Louise, at Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey. The countess had to undergo an emergency caesarean after a placental abruption put her and Louise in danger. Four years later, in December 2007, Sophie returned to the same hospital where she and Edward welcomed their son, James, Viscount Severn.
  15. Sophie and Edward's first child, Lady Louise, was born in 2003.

  16. Despite carrying out many royal duties in London, Edward and Sophie live just outside the city at Bagshot Park, Surrey, with their children.
  17. The royal shares her birthday with Belgium's Queen Mathilde and former Strictly Come Dancing star Mark Wright.
  18. The countess has performed more than 3,000 royal engagements.

  19. Sophie and Edward's visits abroad are often met with excitement, and during their 2012 visit to Gibraltar to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, commemorative stamps were printed to mark their stay.
  20. Kicking off another busy year, in which her mother-in-law the Queen turns 90, Sophie returned to work on Jan. 12, receiving Sir Nicholas Carter for a meeting and had a lunch at the Wax Chandler's Hall in London the following day.
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