Prince Edward and Sophie Wessex: How royals may have found ‘perfect formula’ for monarchy

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The Earl and Countess of Wessex have ramped up their engagement schedule in recent years, proving themselves to be invaluable members of the Royal Family. Both Edward and Sophie have stepped up to the plate since the Queen scaled back her own calendar, and also since Prince Philip retired from public life five years ago. They have established a reputation as a safe pair of hands, quietly getting on with the job without becoming embroiled in controversy.

Edward stepped down from Ardent, his TV production company, two decades ago to devote his life to full-time royal duties, and his wife also relinquished her own career in public relations.

Channel 5’s 2020 documentary ‘Edward and Sophie: The Reluctant Royals’ explored the role they now have within The Firm, and how they may have found the “perfect formula” for the monarchy’s future.

The documentary’s narrator, actress and voice-over artist Glynis Barber, noted: “Forced to be royal after their private careers failed, the Wessexes have led dignified lives for nearly two decades.

“Have they finally found the perfect formula for the future of the British monarchy?”

Rebecca English, the Daily Mail’s royal editor, told the documentary: “They’re not showy people, a lot of what they’ve done has been under the radar.”

Between them, Edward and Sophie are associated with over 150 charities around the world, and carry out more than 500 engagements combined each year.

Dickie Arbiter, a former royal press secretary, said: “[Sophie] works very quietly behind the scenes with her charities.

“She gets things done.”

Never one to shy away from a challenge, Sophie trained relentlessly in 2016 to take part in a sponsored bicycle ride from Edinburgh to London.

After training rides of up to 80 miles (128 kilometres) per day, Sophie and her team completed the challenge in six days, raising £180,000 for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme in the process.

Later, in early 2020, she visited South Sudan — one of the world’s most dangerous countries — to address the issue of sexual violence and rape in the country.

A senior Whitehall source told Ms English that Sophie’s work in the field had been “invaluable”.

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She said: “They described her sense of empathy when talking to the victims, and said that she really has made it a cornerstone of her public work to find out how she can amplify their voices on the international stage.”

Likewise, Edward has taken on much of his father’s work since he retired in 2017, and passed away last year.

Richard Kay, the Daily Mail’s editor-at-large, told Channel 5: “As Philip shed his official duties, Edward took on more, and he now runs the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme.

“So you can see how he has sort of folded both his father and his mother’s interests into how he now runs his royal life.”

Edward admitted in an interview last year that he and his wife are “flattered” that their work is now being recognised after years out of the limelight.

Sophie echoed these sentiments, telling The Telegraph: “Inevitably the spotlight and the focus falls on younger members as time goes on.

“We’ve plodded along doing what we’re doing, hopefully doing it well.

“And then all of a sudden there’s a bit of a hiatus and things have changed a bit.

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“Naturally, the media are looking for people to fill the so-called void.

“But you know, we have been doing this for what feels like a pretty long time!”

The Wessexes will undoubtedly continue to play a crucial role in royal affairs in the years to come, particularly in the absence of Prince Andrew, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

Their daughter, Lady Louise Windsor, who turned 18 last year, has been tipped as someone who could fill the void left by the three senior royals.

Neil Sean, a royal expert and commentator, said in September: “As the daughter of the Earl and Countess of Wessex, they know a thing or two about being in the public eye, let’s not forget that Sophie Wessex was a former PR guru herself.”

“So I’m sure she’s got a really good strong guiding hand from her mum, but more importantly, as Sophie’s pointed out in the past, she wants to let Lady Louise make that big decision herself, as to what she wants to undertake.

“I do think she would be a fabulous asset to the Royal Family, simply because she would court the right publicity and more importantly, any charities that she wishes to attach herself to would be assured that she would at least be interested, and wish to turn up because she simply wants to be there.”

Sophie has previously said that she and Edward have raised Louise and her younger brother James, Viscount of Severn, with the expectation that they will “most likely have to work for a living”.

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