Sophie, Countess of Wessex Biography

Philanthropist, Royalty (1965–)
Countess of Wessex Sophie Rhys-Jones is married to Edward, Earl of Wessex, and is the mother of Lady Louise and James, Viscount Severn.


Sophie Rhys-Jones was born on January 20, 1965, in Oxford, England. In 1996, she started her own public relations firm, RJH Public Relations. Rhys-Jones married Prince Edward—now Edward, Earl of Wessex—in 1999, becoming the Countess of Wessex. In 2003, she had a daughter, Lady Louise. In 2007, she had son James, Viscount Severn. In 2012, she became the subject of controversy when she accepted a gift of gems from Bahrain's royal family.

Early Life

Sophie Rhys-Jones was born at the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford, England, on January 20, 1965. Her parents are of Welsh and Scottish ancestry. Her royalty lineage can only be traced back to a 17th century ancestor named Viscount Molesworth.

Sophie grew up in a 17th century farmhouse in the west Kent village of Bentley, with her parents Christopher and Mary, and her older brother, David. Her father imported and exported tires for a living. Her mother was a part-time secretary.

Sophie received an early education at Dulwich College Preparatory School. The former head of Sophie's prep school described the child as, "… a happy, popular, natural girl with lots of common sense, conscientious at her school work and good at sport." After completing her courses at Dulwich College Preparatory School, Sophie went on to study at Kent College for Girls. At age 16, she enrolled at West Kent College, where she trained as a secretary for two years.

Public Relations Career

Having satisfied her training requirements, in 1985, Sophie took a job as a secretary with a London public relations company. Within just a year, she landed a dream job in the press department of London's Capital Radio. Over the course of her career, she worked for a variety of different public relations firms, including the Quentin Bell Organisation, and Maclaurin Communication and Media.

In 1996, Sophie teamed up with business partner Murray Harkin to start her own public relations firm, RJH Public Relations.she remained active in the company until 2002, when she decided to relinquish her PR career in order to focus on starting a family.

Personal Life

Sophie met her husband, Edward, Earl of Wessex, during a PR strategy meeting about a charity event that he was organizing. The couple had dated for nearly five years when Edward proposed, and they were wed at Windsor Castle's St. George's Chapel on June 19, 1999. On their wedding day, Edward was conferred the title of Earl of Wessex by his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, and Sophie became the Countess of Wessex.

Two years later, Sophie became pregnant, but suffered a devastating blow when she discovered that the pregnancy was ectopic. A additional two years passed before she was able to become pregnant again. On November 8, 2003, facing medical complications that threatened the her life as well as her child's, Sophie gave birth by emergency c-section to daughter Lady Louise. Although she lost nine pints of blood during the delivery, Sophie managed to fully recover.

On December 17, 2007, Sophie and Edward rejoiced in the birth of a son, James, Viscount Severn. James was Queen Elisabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh's first male grandchild since Prince Harry, who had been born 23 years earlier.

Since the birth of her children, Sophie has remained active in children's charities and community projects. She also supports her husband in his public duties. In 2012, the Countess of Wessex was the subject of controversy when she accepted a gift of jewels from Bahrain's royal family. Activists argued that she should return the gems in light of human rights abuses by Bahrain's regime.

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