As such, their home, Bagshot Park in Surrey, has become an oasis. And it’s a beautiful one at that.
Edward and Sophie, along with their two children Lady Louise and James, Viscount Severn, have lived in the 120-room royal residence for more than 20 years. The Wessexes moved in after their wedding in July 1999.
While they don’t own it, the couple lease it from The Crown Estate for 150 years at a cost of $10 million. The property itself is reported to be worth about $55m.
Handily, it’s just 17km from Windsor Castle, the royal residence where the monarch spends a great deal of her time these days.
Sophie explains, “We’re a lot more fortunate because we live so close to the Queen, so when she spends a lot of time at Windsor on the weekends, our children are more fortunate because they can go over and have tea with her on a regular basis.”
During the global pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns, however, the Wessexes were unable to enter the castle – and had to talk to the Queen and her late husband Prince Philip from a balcony.
“We used to see them stand on the balcony, which was about 20 feet [seven metres] up in the air,” the countess said.
“We’d see them waving. We’d shout at them and they’d shout back at us. It always seemed to be windy, so we could barely hear each other.”
WATCH: Prince Edward and Sophie Wessex share words about Prince Philip after his death
Bagshot Park itself is a spectacular building, with more than 20ha of land, a private lake and stables.
The couple allowed selected media into their home last year during the blaze of attention following Prince Philip’s funeral and revealed just how stunning the house is inside. In some Zoom meetings the Wessexes held during the pandemic, a lot was revealed about their home decor.
Prince Edward’s home office features a wall-to-ceiling wooden bookshelf, with several trinkets and lovingly framed photos, and carved wooden walls.
In Sophie’s office, there’s a bookcase filled with a huge array of DVDs, books and all sorts of games.
The countess revealed even more of her home during a Zoom call that showed one kitchen with green walls, chic white cupboards and coordinating white marble worktops – while she was baking scones, like a domestic goddess!
A second kitchen has a classic dark navy scheme, with glass-fronted cabinets displaying an assortment of teapots, teacups and saucers. The conservatory offers up incredible views of their beautiful lawns via floor-to-ceiling windows.
The family also has two dogs to keep them busy. Mole, a cocker spaniel, and Teal, their black labrador, who enjoy the run of the grounds.
“They’re completely mad,” jokes Edward, though he acknowledges that they were useful during lockdown. “Dogs that have to be exercised are always a good motivator. It forces you to go outside.”
Generally, the whole family spends a lot of time in the great outdoors.
“Look out there,” Sophie chimed in, showing off her garden. “We are very fortunate and we can’t complain.”
She added that it was easy to tell James and Louise to get out in the garden when they were growing up. “If things were kicking off inside, right from the year dot, I’d say: ‘Right… outside!’ You come back in again and the mood is entirely different” Sophie said.
The grounds proved such a blessing during the height of the lockdown.
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“Louise would take herself off on her bike, and James is very self-motivated to get out, so actually, it was never a struggle. There were certainly moments [during the pandemic] when I think we all felt a bit low. But then you have to sit there and go, ‘Hang on – look at our wonderful surroundings, we are very, very lucky, and so many other people aren’t in that situation.”
In terms of domestic bliss, it seems Edward and Sophie’s marriage and family life is stronger than ever. In fact, he’s the only one of his siblings not to divorce or become embroiled in a cheating scandal.
And while the Wessexes are busier than ever, spending quality time at home together is something they cherish.
“After a tough year with much uncertainty, there is one thing the couple can always count on – each other,” says a family acquaintance. “[Sophie and Edward] are the best of friends and have an incredibly strong partnership.”
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