Sweet secrets behind Prince Edward and Sophie’s trailblazing marriage that survived the odds

Sweet secrets behind Prince Edward and Sophie’s trailblazing marriage that survived the odds

The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh are celebrating their landmark silver wedding anniversary and to mark the occasion, we are taking a closer look at their marriage secrets

When Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones walked down the aisle in St George’s Chapel in 1999, onlookers could have been forgiven for being sceptical about whether their marriage would last.

At the time, the Queen’s other three children had all seen their own marriages end in divorces – Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, and Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips.

But Edward and Sophie would go on to defy the odds. This week, the couple celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary – an impressive milestone by anyone’s standards. To mark the happy occasion, we take a closer look at their long-term romance and how they have managed to remain closer than ever

Sophie Wessex and Prince Edward waving to crowds from horse drawn carriage on their wedding day

Sophie and Edward on their wedding in 1999 
Sophie, then called Sophie Rhys-Jones, first met the Queen’s youngest son at Capital Radio in 1987 – although at the time, the Prince was going out with her friend.

They bumped into each other again in 1993 at a charity event. Sophie was working as a public relations executive, and co-owned the firm RJH Public Relations with her business partner Murray Harkin.

After years of dating, they announced their engagement in January 1999, with Sophie giving fans a glimpse of her stunning Asprey and Garrard white gold ring. And on 19 June 1999 at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, the happy couple finally tied the knot.

They went on to welcome two children, James, now Earl of Wessex, who is currently undertaking his GCSEs and Lady Louise, an English literature student at St Andrews University.

Photo of Lady Louise Windsor and James, Earl of Wessex
The couple are proud parents to Lady Louise and James, Earl of Wessex 

UK Press via Getty Images)
They are a very close-knit and low-key family. And friends have told the Daily Mail that it is the careful balancing of their positions as full-time working royals with a strong sense of duty, together with their life as partners and parents, that is the secret to their success.

“They are a real team,” one life-long friend of the couple told the publication. “There’s an equilibrium in the relationship, neither one is jealous of the other. In fact they take great pride in the other’s achievements. When Sophie undertook a 450-mile cycling challenge a few years ago from Edinburgh to London there was no one prouder than the prince, I can tell you.”

Their devotion was evident earlier this year when Sophie paid a loving tribute to her husband in honour of his 60th birthday.

Sophie Wessex smiling as she looks at her husband Prince Edward, also laughing

The Duchess described her husband as her ‘best friend’ 
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Leaving Edward looking deeply emotional, Sophie described the Prince as “the best of fathers and the most loving of husbands and still is my best friend”. She sweetly added: “I am so proud of the man he is.”

For Edward’s part, in an exclusive interview with Rebecca English to mark his landmark birthday, he notably “came alive” as he discussed his wife.

“Well, you need a really good supportive network in this and family is incredibly important. I am just very, very lucky that Sophie is a brilliant, brilliant person in her own right,’ he told the journalist, who reported that he was “smiling from ear to ear” at the time.

The couple share a number of interests, from skiing to walking their dogs together and enjoying low-key “bucket and spade” holidays with their family in the Isles of Scilly.

But above all else, they laugh a lot. “There is always something for them to giggle about,” a friend revealed.

In recent years, Edward and Sophie’s star has been on the rise. They have taken on more public duties with onlookers praising them for their no-fuss, down-to-earth appearances. They are also seen as a safe pair of hands, having quietly devoted much of their married life to the royal family without fuss or fanfare.

Unsurprisingly, they are said to be ‘role models’ for Prince William and Princess Kate, who are said to admire the way the couple have raised their children away from the public eye. Sophie has previously spoken about wanting Louise and James to lead as normal lives as possible (Louise famously worked in a garden centre in her holidays) – including not using their royal titles.

In an interview with The Sunday Times in 2020, the mum-of-two said: “We try to bring them up with the understanding they are very likely to have to work for a living. Hence we made the decision not to use HRH titles. They have them and can decide to use them from 18, but I think it’s highly unlikely.”

Sophie and Kate are known to have an especially close bond – and just this week, Sophie was seen putting a reassuring hand on William’s back as a sign of support.

As for their 25th wedding anniversary celebrations, the Duke and Duchess are said to be spending the day with close friends at Royal Ascot, although they have decided to keep a low-profile and not take part in the royal carriage procession. What’s clear is that the couple’s love and devotion to each other continues to blossom, both in and out of the spotlight.

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