Sophie Rhys-Jones facts: Duchess of Edinburgh's age, children, family and career revealed

3 May 2023, 16:08

The Countess Of Wessex
The Countess Of Wessex. Picture: Getty

Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh, married into the Royal Family with her wedding to Prince Edward in 1999.

Since then, former businesswoman Sophie has become one of the hardest-working royals, regularly fulfilling engagements for the King and the Queen before him, around the UK and overseas.

But how did Sophie meet Edward and who are her children? Here are the important facts:

  1. How old is Sophie, Countess of Wessex and where is she from?

    Sophie Rhys-Jones in the early 1990s
    Sophie Rhys-Jones in the early 1990s. Picture: Getty

    Sophie Rhys-Jones was born in Oxford, on January 20, 1965. She celebrated her 58th birthday in 2023.

    She was born into a middle-class family. Her father, Christopher Bournes Rhys-Jones (born 1931), is a retired sales director for an importer of industrial tyres and rubber goods.

    Her mother was Mary (née O'Sullivan, 1934–2005), a charity worker and secretary.

    Sophie also has an older brother, David (born 1963).

    Her godfather is actor Thane Bettany, her father's stepbrother, and the father of actor Paul Bettany.

  2. How did she meet Prince Edward and when did they marry?

    Prince Edward And The Countess Of Wessex with baby James in 2007
    Prince Edward And The Countess Of Wessex with baby James in 2007. Picture: Getty

    While working at Smooth's sister station Capital in 1987, Sophie met Prince Edward, the youngest son of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, when he was dating her friend.

    She later met Edward again at a charity event in 1993, and the two began a relationship. Their engagement was announced in January 1999.

    Edward proposed to Sophie with an engagement ring worth an estimated £105,000.

    The wedding took place on June 19, 1999, at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. This was a break from the weddings of Edward's older siblings, which were large events at Westminster Abbey or St Paul's Cathedral.

    Upon their marriage, Prince Edward was created a hereditary peer as Earl of Wessex, with Sophie becoming a Countess.

    The family live at Bagshot Park in Surrey, while their office and official London residence is based at Buckingham Palace.

  3. Who are Sophie and Edward's children?

    Prince Edward with his family
    Prince Edward with his family. Picture: Getty

    Edward and Sophie's children are styled as the children of an Earl, rather than as prince/ss and royal highness.

    The couple have two children: Lady Louise Windsor, born November 8, 2003, and James, Viscount Severn, born December 17, 2007.

    Lady Louise was a bridesmaid at the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's wedding in 2011. She was born with esotropia, and underwent an operation in an unsuccessful attempt to correct the problem in January 2006. However, she had further treatment in 2013 that corrected her vision.

    James currently attends Eagle House School, a coeducational school near Sandhurst in Berkshire.

  4. What does Sophie do for a living?

    Sophie and the Queen in 2008
    Sophie and the Queen in 2008. Picture: Getty

    Before becoming a member of the royal family, Sophie first trained as a secretary. She then began working in public relations, representing firms across the UK, Switzerland, and Australia before opening her own agency in 1996.

    In 2002, Sophie closed her business interests and began full-time work as a member of the royal family. She is now the patron of over 70 charities and organisations, including Childline and the London College of Fashion.

    Sophie does over 200 royal engagements each year, including visits to schools, universities, and military bases.

    Her charity work usually revolves around people with disabilities, women's rights, avoidable blindness, and agriculture.