Thursday, 24 Sep 2020

Sophie Wessex heartbreak: Countess ‘held head up high’ after ‘devastating’ experience

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Sophie, the Countess of Wessex was left in “extreme distress” after a close friend chose to sell private photos depicting the soon-to-be royal topless shortly before her wedding to Prince Edward. But despite the struggle she faced, Sophie showed off her strong character as she emerged with her “head held up high” from the experience. Royal commentator Rebecca English told Channel 5’s documentary ‘Edward&Sophie: The Reluctant Royals?’: “I’ve spoken to a friend of hers who was with her when the story broke and they saw her heart break.

“But equally, and I think this is a really interesting aspect of Sophie’s character, she very much thought the show must go on.

“She held her head up high. She knew she had done nothing wrong.”

Ms English added: “”This was an incredibly cruel and thoughtless thing to do and I think the reaction of the Royal Family was very clear.

“There was very immediate condemnation, not of Sophie, but of the woman who had done this.”

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The private pictures had been taken while Sophie holidayed in Spain with colleagues Kara Noble and Chris Tarrant in 1988, years before the now-Countess entered a relationship with Prince Edward

The couple had long tried to live their romance away from the public eye and the publication of the snaps cemented the Edward and Sophie’s conviction they did not want to share their private life with the world.

Documentary narrator Glynis Barber said: “The intrusion was yet more evidence for Edward that he needed to free himself from the royal glare.

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“On their big day on June 19, 1999 Sophie and Edward showed once again they were going to do things their own way.

“It would be a different royal wedding – Edward was the first of the Queen’s children to go against tradition when choosing the venue for the ceremony.

“Edward and Sophie tried to make the wedding an informal affair by royal standards.”

Commentator Richard Kay said: “It wasn’t being held at St Paul’s Cathedral as Charles and Princess Diana’s was, or Westminster Abbey where Prince Andrew married. 

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Edward opted for St George’s Chapel, which is a much smaller venue.”

The choice came to set a precedent for other royals like Prince Harry and Princess Beatrice, who also tried to minimise the press and public presence by choosing the Windsor Castle chapel for their weddings to Meghan Markle and James Brooksbank respectively.

The Earl and Countess of Wessex have continued to lead mostly private lives when not engaged on official duties on behalf of the Queen.

When the couple welcomed their children, the Lady Louise in 2003 and James, Viscount Severn in 2007, Sophie and Edward chose to forego the HRH title for both of times despite them being entitled to it.

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