The Countess of Wessex in 2018.

Today, HRH The Countess of Wessex celebrates her fifty-fifth birthday.

Sophie’s parents: Christopher and Mary Rhys-Jones
The Countess of Wessex with her father Christopher at the memorial service for her mother Mary (2005).

Sophie Helen Rhys-Jones was born on 20 January 1965 at the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford, United Kingdom. Sophie is the only daughter of Christopher Rhys-Jones (b.1931) and his late wife Mary (1933 – 2005; née O’Sullivan). Sophie’s middle name was in honour of her paternal aunt Helen, who died in a horse riding accident in 1960. Sophie joined an older brother, David, who was born in 1963.

Sophie Rhys-Jones grew up in a seventeenth century farmhouse in Brenchley, Kent. She was a pupil at Dulwich Preparatory School, and then went on to Kent College, where she was friends with Sarah Sienesi, with later became her lady-in-waiting. Sophie then trained as a secretary at West Kent College.

After finishing her education, Sophie began a career in public relations. She worked for four years at Capital Radio, a regional radio station based in London. In 1996, Sophie Rhys-Jones founded her own PR agency, RJH Public Relations. During her time at Capital Radio, in 1987, Sophie met Prince Edward (b.1964), the youngest child of HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. Over the years, the two crossed paths over and over. A relationship eventually developed, and a romance blossomed. The couple’s engagement was announced in January 1999.

On 19 June 1999, Prince Edward of the United Kingdom and Sophie Rhys-Jones were married at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor. On the occasion of the marriage, The Queen bestowed upon her son the title of Earl of Wessex (a peerage in the United Kingdom) with the subsidiary title Viscount Severn (a peerage in the United Kingdom). Twenty years later, in 2019, the Queen granted her son the title of Earl of Forfar in the peerage of Scotland. Therefore, Sophie is normally styled and titled as HRH The Countess of Wessex; however, when in Scotland, she is styled and titled as HRH The Countess of Forfar. Notably, the Earl of Wessex is the only one of the Sovereign’s children whose marriage has stood the test of time.

We wish Her Royal Highness many happy returns of the day!

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