Sophie, Countess of Wessex and Prince Edward celebrate their 14th anniversary today, with the couple likely to mark the occasion privately at their home in Bagshot Park, Surrey.
Often described as “the Queen's favourite”, Sophie has blossomed from supporting player in the royal family into a stunning and popular principal.
The former public relations manager captured the world's attention when she married Prince Edward at Windsor Castle in 1999. The glowing bride wore an elegant white hand-dyed silk organza dress, complementing her understated gown with a diamond tiara from the Queen's private collection.
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The wedding was attended by royalty from around the world, including Queen Anne-Marie of Greece and Prince Joachim of Denmark.
Fourteen years later the Countess' royal role is more prominent than ever, with the stylish royal being praised for her commitment to public service, her support to the Queen and to her husband Prince Edward.
Sophie has a close relationship with her mother-in-law the Queen. The two women share a passion for military history and a love of horses. They are often spotted riding together at weekends in the magnificent grounds of Windsor Park. The Queen has been known to turn up unannounced at Edward and Sophie's Surrey home for afternoon tea.
The strong bond was made clear when the Queen visited Sophie in hospital shortly after Lady Louise's birth in 2003, breaking tradition. "Her majesty doesn't even visit people on their deathbeds," revealed a royal source.
In 2012, in celebration of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, the Earl and Countess represented the monarchy on an official visit to Gibraltar, signaling the Queen's confidence in the couple. The royals were welcomed by thousands of wellwishers who had lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the couple.
Before taking on royal duties, Sophie worked in public relations, including four years at Capital Radio. The Countess met Prince Edward at a charity event in 1993, with the couple dating for six years until they announced their engagement in January 1999 and married six months later.
Prince Edward and Sophie's marriage has not been without heartbreak. In 2001 the Countess suffered an ectopic pregnancy, undergoing emergency surgery. Sophie later experienced a difficult pregnancy with Lady Louise, who was delivered by emergency Caesarean. Four years later the couple welcomed their son, Viscount James.
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