Since Friday, 9 April, 2021, the British people have been in mourning. On that day, Buckingham Palace released a statement announcing the death of Prince Philip, at the age of 99. There is now ‘a great void in the life’ of Elizabeth II, and of the entire royal family.
Married to the Queen of England since 1947, Philip Mountbatten was her lifelong pillar and her closest adviser. So the whole world is now wondering how William and Harry's grandmother, who will soon celebrate her 95th birthday, will be able to cope.
In this terrible ordeal, Elizabeth II can obviously count on the support of her people, and of her entourage. The sovereign ‘has been getting closer to her daughter-in-law Sophie’ recently. But who is this woman who means so much to her?
Sophie Rhys-Jones, wife of Prince Edward and businesswoman
Sophie Rhys-Jones is the wife of Prince Edward, the youngest son of Elizabeth II. The couple were married on 19 June, 1999 in St George's Chapel, where Prince Philip's funeral will be held. Since then, she has inherited the title of Countess of Wessex and has given birth to two children: Louise, born on 8 November, 2003, and James, born on 17 December, 2007. The family lives at the Royal Residence at Bagshot Park in Surrey.
Sophie Rhys-Jones, now 56, has had a long career in public relations. She set up her own agency in 1996 (which has since gone out of business) called RJH Public Relations. In her lifetime, long before her royal wedding, she also worked as a client manager at a ski resort in Switzerland. Sophie of Wessex also lived in Australia for a year. A true figure of the Crown, the Countess, a descendant of King Henry IV, even has a wax statue of herself in Madame Tussauds in London.
Sophie of Wessex's close-knit relationship with her in laws
Sophie of Wessex, who was very close to Prince Philip, told the British press about his last moments. She told ITV News in the wake of the Duke of Edinburgh's death:
It was so sweet. It was like someone took him by the hand and walked away. Very, very peaceful. And that's all you want for someone, isn't it? I think it's so much easier for the person who's leaving than for the people who are staying. We're all sitting here looking at each other saying 'this is awful.'
In 2019, Sophie of Wessex actually replaced her father-in-law as patron of the Chartered Management Institute, a professional management body that trains the leaders of tomorrow. She was also his vice-chair for the Windsor Horse Show. Equally close to her mother-in-law, Prince Edward's wife gave an update on the Queen after Philip Mountbatten's death:
She thinks of others before herself. She was wonderful.