The Countess embraces Bishop Peter Nott, who was a close friend of her mum, after the service
Photo: Empics
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Hand in hand, Sophie and her 72-year-old father Christopher make their way into St George's Parish Church in Benenden
Photo: Empics

16 SEPTEMBER 2005

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Sophie Wessex was joined by a large congregation of her nearest and dearest when she attended a memorial service for her mother on Friday. The Countess was among hundreds of people who gathered in St George's Parish Church in Benenden to pay tribute to Mary Rhys-Jones.

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The royal, who wore a simple grey and white dress to the event, was accompanied by her husband Prince Edward and her father Christopher. One of her mum's oldest friends, the former Bishop of Norwich Peter Nott, led prayers in remembrance of the mother of two.

The service, which came just three weeks after Mary lost her life to cancer, featured several of her favourite hymns, including Praise My Soul The King Of Heaven and Guide Me Oh Thy Great Redeemer. Sophie, clearly moved by expressions of fondness for her devoted mum, embraced the bishop as they left the church.

Afterwards Edward drove her to a more intimate reception for close family and friends. Mary had been a popular figure in the Kent town of Benenden, where she lived with her husband for the last four years of her life. She was also well-known in the nearby village of Brenchley which the Rhys-Jones called home until shortly after their daughter married into the Royal Family.

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