Home Prince Edward Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh Duchess Sophie’s Family Insights and Parental Bonds

Duchess Sophie’s Family Insights and Parental Bonds

Sophie's parents pictured leaving hospital in 2003 (Image: PA)
Sophie's parents pictured leaving hospital in 2003 (Image: PA)

Prince Edward and Sophie arrive at Royal Ascot

It has been 30 years since the Queen’s youngest son began dating the Duchess of Edinburgh, who was then Sophie Rhys-Jones.

The 58-year-old has since blossomed into one of the most popular members of the Royal Family, carrying out 138 engagements last year, exceeding that of the Prince and Princess of Wales as well as Queen Camilla.

Here, Express.co.uk takes a closer look at the popular royal’s family life and her parents.

The mother of two’s father Christopher ran an import-export business which sold tyres to Hungary but he is now retired.

Originally from Ireland, Sophie’s mother Mary worked as a secretary part-time and was also involved in charity work.

Sophie's parents pictured leaving hospital in 2003 (Image: PA)
Sophie’s parents pictured leaving hospital in 2003 (Image: PA)

After her parents tied the knot, they welcomed two children, David, in 1963 and Sophie two years later.

Her godfather was her father’s stepbrother, the late actor Thane Bettany, known for the 1980 film The Talisman and North Sea Hijack.

Sophie grew up in Kent with the Rhys-Jones family living in the village of Benchley before her parents moved to Benenden.

The Duchess built a successful career in PR before devoting her life to royal duties. She owned her own PR agency, RJH Public Relations, when she met Prince Edward during a strategy session to support a Real Tennis charity event that the Duke of Edinburgh organised in 1993.

Sophie was pregnant with James when her mother sadly died (Image: Getty)
Sophie was pregnant with James when her mother sadly died (Image: Getty)

The daughter of a bank manager with an “ordinary upbringing”, Sophie’s mother was said to have had misgivings about her child marrying into the Royal Family, according to biographer Andrew Morton.

The Queen was still in the midst of the fallout of the “annus horribilis” with Edward’s older brothers being granted divorces just two years before he proposed in the Bahamas in 1998.

Mr Morton claimed that she was concerned about the failure rate of the late Queen’s children’s marriages and doubted whether Sophie would find real happiness with Edward.

The author of Diana, Her Trust Story, said in 1996: “I think it [marrying into the Royal Family] is something Sophie’s mother is quite concerned about. She wants to see happiness for her daughter and, given that three out of four marriages have failed, she has every right to be concerned about whether her daughter will find happiness.”

Sophie said se wishes her mother could have seen her own children grow up (Image: Getty)
Sophie said se wishes her mother could have seen her own children grow up (Image: Getty)

But Sophie and Edward did tie the knot in 1999 at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle before having two children, Louise and James. They both later gave up their respective careers to take on royal duties full-time.

Sadly, Mary died from stomach cancer at the age of 71 in 2005 after battling the disease for six months. Sophie was 14 weeks pregnant with her second child at the time of her mother’s death and her eldest was just two years old.

The Duchess was “very close to her mother” according to a statement released by Buckingham Palace at the time.

Royal commentator Judy Wade told the Mirror that year that she had been “very protective of her daughter”, adding: “She was not loud or extroverted, just nice, pleasant and very friendly.”

Sophie was recently spotted with her father at Ascot (Image: Getty)
Sophie was recently spotted with her father at Ascot (Image: Getty)

The Duchess spoke candidly about her grief during an appearance at the National Federation of Women’s Institute yearly meeting in 2021, stating: “To this day, I miss her very much and there are moments where I hear some music she loved or I do something I know she’d have wanted to hear about, which makes her early departure very hard…

“She has missed out on so much, and I’m particularly sad that she hasn’t seen my children grow up or seen how my work has grown and developed.”

Sophie appears to have a close relationship with her father, although she does not talk of her parents often. This summer, the 58-year-old Sophie was spotted with her father on the third day of Royal Ascot.

Source: EXPRESS CO UK

Previous articlePrincess Kate’s Secret Visit to 24-Hour Music Festival
Next articlePrincess Kate & Sophie: A Royal Bond Beyond Titles