Prince Edward and Sophie smiling

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When we think about Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s children, we usually think first of Prince Charles, heir apparent to the British throne, or the controversial Prince Andrew. Then there’s Princess Anne, the queen’s second child and only daughter, and, finally, Prince Edward, the queen’s youngest son, who, for a while, seemed to be the kid brother who didn’t have as much royal responsibility as his eldest sibling. But time changes dynamics quite a bit, and Edward has certainly been striking out on his own in recent years.

Edward actually seems to be the royal family’s secret weapon, and that status is in large part thanks to his stable home life. Married to Sophie, Countess of Wessex, Edward is the only child of the British monarch who hasn’t gotten divorced, and his low-key status as a husband and father of two has helped him relate to the British public. So, of course, it’s no wonder people are interested in the dynamic that he and Sophie have together. Here is the truth about Prince Edward’s marriage.

Prince Edward and Sophie did not have an initial spark

Prince Edward, wife Sophie smiling

It seems like a lot of people in lasting marriages agree — when you know, you know. But for Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, their initial meeting did not result in sparks or butterflies. As noted by Express, the two initially crossed paths in 1987 when they met at Capital Radio, and, if that seems simple enough, let us explain. Sophie and Edward met through a friend of hers whom Edward was dating then. Yes, Sophie met the young prince when he was off the market, so nothing romantic happened between them for some time.

It’d be another six years before Edward and Sophie would meet again, and so many things changed for the royal family at that time. The early 1990s wreaked havoc on royal marriages — from Prince Charles and Diana Spencer to Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips to Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson — all the royal romances seemed to collapse in real time. Cue Sophie and Edward, who, now both single, started a relationship in 1993 after seeing each other at a charity event. While it reportedly wasn’t love at first sight (as can be expected under the circumstances), these two would be in it for the long haul.

Their romance almost didn’t make it during the mid-1990s

Prince Edward, Sophie at an event

Every relationship goes through rough patches — that’s just the nature of things — but Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, almost didn’t make it. As noted by Express, the mid-1990s proved to be difficult for the couple, and they were allegedly "precariously close" to calling it quits just one year into their romance. Ingrid Seward, a royal expert and author of the book "Prince Edward," wrote that a number of arguments started to take a toll on the couple, and that, by 1994, their relationship began to unravel. "Like all couples, there were moments when the effort of adjusting led to rows and disagreements and, in the summer of 1994, they came precariously close to parting," Seward wrote.

So, what pulled the couple through the tough times? The solution, according to Express, was, in part, thanks to Sophie’s tenacity. Seward noted that Edward had not only witnessed all of his siblings suffer through separations and divorces, but he himself was also recovering from a bit of a bachelor reputation. It was thanks to Sophie’s dedication and desire to not let the relationship "flounder" that she and the prince made it through.

The queen didn’t have a wonderful first impression of Sophie

Prince Edward, Sophie, Queen Elizabeth

They say that first impressions are everything, and when it came time for Sophie, Countess of Wessex, to dazzle Queen Elizabeth — let’s just say she reportedly fell a bit flat. In her book "Prince Edward," royal expert and author Ingrid Seward revealed that the queen didn’t take to Sophie very kindly, as she reportedly thought that Prince Edward’s love interest didn’t command much attention (via Express). "The queen, cloaked in her majesty dignity, can be chillingly imperious in her disapprov[al], and her first appraisal of Sophie was disconcerting in the extreme," Seward wrote, including that the monarch’s initial comment regarding Sophie was, "You wouldn’t notice her in a crowd." Yikes.

What the queen may have not realized at the time, however, was that Sophie’s "sensible and low-key approach" — as described by Seward — may have been the best thing for the royal family. At the time, Diana Spencer and Sarah Ferguson were in the headlines for less-than-flattering reasons, and, with time, the queen began to take to Sophie quite fondly. Seward even noted that if Elizabeth had really wanted Edward to pursue a romantic relationship with someone else, as Express noted, she would’ve made it impossible for him and Sophie to be together.

Sophie reportedly brought the prince out of his shell in the early days of their romance

Prince Edward and Sophie smiling

Despite their rough patches, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, and Prince Edward continued to move forward with their relationship. It certainly seemed for the better, too, because their mutual friends agreed that the couple brings the best out in each other. This was not only a good thing for Sophie and Edward, we should add, but also for the royal family — with three marriages collapsing around the same time, it was surely a relief to know there was, at least, one royal child with a stable love life. As for how they benefit one another, friends concluded that Sophie and Edward’s opposite personalities only helped their relationship grow, and, according to Vanity Fair, the dynamic was detailed by authors Garth Gibbs and Sean Smith in their book, "Sophie’s Kiss."

As noted by Vanity Fair, some people were surprised that two individuals like Sophie and Edward hit it off, but mutual friends saw the pairing as mutually beneficial. "Sophie is good fun, a laugh, attractive, and the sort of girl most men would enjoy chatting with," a friend told the authors. "Edward is serious, quiet … But when Edward’s with Sophie, he becomes good fun, too. It’s extraordinary the effect she has on him."

Prince Edward felt the pressure to propose

Sophie, Prince Edward smiling in public

A lot of partners can attest that when you’ve been romantically involved with someone for a while, questions about proposing seem to catch on like wildfire. The same goes for the royals, no matter how different the rest of their lives are to ours, and it was this kind of pressure that Prince Edward endured from the press when it came to his relationship with Sophie, Countess of Wessex. As noted by Express, members of the press asked Edward "multiple times" if he was going to pop the question, and it’s clear the scrutiny got to him. In a bit of an outburst, he reportedly said, "If you shut up, mind your own business and let me do it when I want, it’s much more likely to happen."

If you’re surprised that a royal would be that sharp with their words, let’s continue to look at what Edward had to say during the exchange. He reportedly continued, "The more people second-guess, the less likely it is I just won’t do it" (via Express). What was aiding Edward’s grief over the matter? No doubt it was the lack of privacy that he and Sophie endured as part of their lives as royals.

Prince Edward proposed to Sophie in 1999, and she enthusiastically said yes

Sophie, Prince Edward smiling

Despite the pressure Prince Edward clearly felt on a regular basis, he finally asked Sophie, Countess of Wessex, to marry him in 1999. As reported by The Guardian at the time, Edward and Sophie were "thrilled" to announce the news, as were Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip (seriously, after three out of four kids’ marriages went south, we can only imagine how happy the queen was for this personal win). At the time of the engagement announcement, no further details about the impending nuptials were shared, but Edward and Sophie did express their desire to get married at St. George’s Chapel.

An official statement from Buckingham Palace revealed that Edward and Sophie sought permission to get engaged by both sets of their parents over the Christmas holiday of the previous year, and they made a point of keeping their engagement under wraps until all parents could give their consent. As for the ring? Edward got down on one knee with an engagement ring from Asprey Garrard, which featured three diamonds "in a modern setting" (per The Guardian). We love to see it.

Sophie had a long period of adjustment to royal life

Prince Edward and Sophie at an event

If you consider yourself a bit of a royal expert, or just a fan of all things British monarchy, then you’ll know that royal engagements tend to occur out of nowhere. For instance, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s engagement seemed to shock the world, given that the status of their romantic relationship was still so fresh in the public sphere. But, for Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, their courtship and dating life spanned about half a decade, and Sophie recalled to The Sunday Times that the time they took made all the difference. "I’d had five years to adjust," Sophie said of her experience.

During the interview, Sophie was positioned to ruminate on Harry and Meghan‘s timeline in comparison to her own, and she admitted that the time spent actually dating Edward and being engaged to him made her adjustment to royal life far easier than Meghan and Harry’s experience (which clearly wasn’t that great since they left the royal family). "For our six-month engagement I was even staying in Buckingham Palace," Sophie shared with The Times. "Not that you necessarily know how it will pan out."

They married in a beautiful, but simple, royal ceremony

Sophie, Prince Edward waving, wedding day

Royal weddings truly feel like social events of the year, or even the decade, but Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, decided to go for a bit of a toned-down version of events. Of course, their 1999 wedding was still a royal wedding, but it didn’t have as much pomp and circumstance as, let’s say, Prince Charles’ wedding to Diana Spencer or Prince William’s wedding to Kate Middleton. As noted by Tatler, the couple’s "jubilant celebration" was far more of a joyous occasion than an overtly formal occasion, although it still managed to generate about 200 million television viewers around the world. What else made it significantly different from other royal weddings? Well, it did not feature any military or state involvement, which was certainly a shift from tradition.

As for Sophie’s dress, because we know you want the details, she opted for a silk organza gown from designer Samantha Keswick. The simple, yet effective, gown was ordained with 325,000 pearls and crystals, and she paired her wedding day look with the Anthemion tiara. Photos from the day show the happy couple, accompanied by then-teenagers William and Prince Harry, as well as the queen, of course.

The newlyweds landed in hot water when a private conversation went public

Prince Edward, Sophie smiling, dressed formally

Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, are definitely rising in popularity, but you might be surprised to find out they stumbled quite a bit — public relations-wise — when they first got married. Their floundering was quite surprising, given that Sophie co-owned a public relations firm at the time, but, nevertheless, their first months of marriage weren’t easy. As Vanity Fair noted, the newlywed couple first came under fire when it became public they had included a $99,270 tea set on their wedding registry (even we think that’s a bit opulent, even for royalty).

Then, of course, were the infamous "Sophie Tapes," which were secretly-recorded conversations involving Sophie and her then-business partner, Murray Harkin. From Murray’s alleged drug use to Edward’s sexuality to supposed business deals in development to "cash in on their position" as royals, the tapes did not show Sophie or her business partner in a favorable light, as per The Guardian. To make matters worse, Sophie had railed on the royal family members, from Prince Charles to Camilla Parker Bowles, during the recorded conversations. She even pointed to her increased work interest due to her royal connection — all in all, not a good look.

The couple had a harrowing experience welcoming their first child into the world

Prince Edward, Sophie with daughter Louise

Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, may have had some pretty big slip-ups in the early months of their marriage, but all the fervor and judgment seemingly melted away when Sophie’s life — and the life of the couple’s first child — was in jeopardy. As noted by the Daily Mail, Sophie’s birth experience with the couple’s first child, Lady Louise Windsor, was so horrific that it has impacted her life ever since.

It was November 2003, a month before her due date, and everything about Sophie’s pregnancy seemed to be going smoothly. Edward jumped on a plane to Mauritius for an official, but seemingly normal, royal visit. But, soon after Edward’s departure, Sophie began experiencing pain in her abdominal area. She was rushed to the nearest hospital, where the situation turned from bad to worse. As noted by Vanity Fair, Sophie experienced a placental abruption, which led her to undergo an emergency C-section. The birth experience, according to a friend of the countess, left her scarred. "It was utterly traumatic, and in some ways Sophie has never got over it," her friend shared with the Daily Mail.

They embraced their lives as full-time royals after the birth of their second child

Sophie, Prince Edward holding baby James

Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, successfully welcomed their daughter into the world, despite the horrific circumstances surrounding her birth. By the time their son was born in 2007, Sophie and Edward’s relationship had emerged more in the public eye, and, as per The Sunday Times, they began to "mature" into their roles as senior, full-time royals.

For Sophie, the shift marked a significant change in her life. Unlike some other spouses who married into the royal family (apart from Meghan Markle, who was a successful professional actress), Sophie had a successful professional career before joining The Firm, and, as such, she had to shift her perspective on what it meant to be a working royal. "I had to reduce my expectations of what I could actually do," Sophie told The Sunday Times back in 2020. "I had to take a really big step back and go, ‘[Okay], they want you to be the icing on the cake, the person to come in to thank their volunteers and funders, not necessarily to tell them how to run their communications plan."

The royal couple keep their children out of the spotlight

Prince Edward, Sophie, their children smiling

While Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, are rising stars within the royal family, they have made it a priority to keep their two children out of the spotlight. Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn, may be pictured from time to time, but Edward and Sophie certainly seem to respect their children’s privacy. After all, being the grandchild of Queen Elizabeth is already a significant title to wear. However, Edward and Sophie did such a good job keeping their kids away from the hustle and bustle of royal life that their daughter, Louise, didn’t even realize her grandmother was, in fact, the queen of England.

As noted by the Mirror, Sophie shared that, when Louise was younger, she had "no concept" of her grandmother’s occupation. The countess explained that her young daughter didn’t realize the queen of England and her grandmother were the same person, and it was only when she attended school that it started to click for her. "Other children were mentioning it and saying, ‘Your gran is the Queen,’" Sophie said. "And she’d come home and say, ‘Mummy they say that Grandmama is the Queen.’ And I said, ‘Yes,’ and she said, ‘I don’t understand what they mean.’"

Prince Edward and Sophie have stepped into royal life in an impactful way

Prince Edward, Lady Louise, Sophie posing outdoors

It seems as though the royal family is changing in real time. From Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s departure to Prince Philip’s death, the dynamics in one of the most storied institutions are shifting rapidly. As such, Prince Edward and his wife, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, have stepped up in a big way. As noted by Express, one such occasion where Edward took the lead was at the opening of the General Synod in November 2021. The opening is a prominent day for the Church of England, and it was surprising that Queen Elizabeth sent Edward in her place. But, nevertheless, her youngest son stepped up and filled in for her at the storied event.

That is just one example of Edward and Sophie’s changing royal dynamic, and they aren’t the only senior royals stepping up to the plate. Express noted that a group coined the "Magnificent Seven" — which includes Prince Charles, Camilla Parker Bowles, Prince William, Kate Middleton, and Princess Anne — supports the queen in a big way, and, surprisingly to some, Edward and Sophie are also part of the mix.

Where do things stand between the royal couple now?

Prince Edward, Sophie at royal event

With two kids, changing royal responsibilities, and, of course, the public eye, you might wonder where things stand between Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, today. We’re happy to report that the couple seems to be just as happy with each other now as they were when they got married, and they recently celebrated the 23rd anniversary of their engagement. As noted by Hello!, Edward and Sophie couldn’t stop gushing about each other when they announced their engagement, and what they said truly is worth revisiting.

Remarking that he didn’t know why it took him so long to propose, Edward said of his now-wife, "We are the very best of friends and that’s essential but it also helps that we also love each other very much." Honestly, goals. Of her now-husband, Sophie chimed, "I think we share a number of interests, we laugh a lot and we have a great friendship" (via Hello!). So, there you have it — marry your best friend, and you’ll be set for life.