The Wessexes laugh at the idea that they’re suddenly taking on the responsibilities and roles of royal life – “What did people think we were doing beforehand?” giggles Sophie during the couple’s first ever interview together in the UK’s The Telegraph Magazine – as, of course, the truth is, they’ve been quietly working in the background all this time.
In 2019, Edward carried out more public duties than the Queen, while Sophie had a heavier workload than the Cambridges and Camilla.
But they’re happy to be seen as the quiet achievers.
“Well, we’re flattered is probably the best way of putting it,” says Edward, with the spotlight invariably shining on them now Harry has moved to the US and Philip is no longer with us.
“The spotlight and the focus falls on younger members as time goes on,” Sophie adds. ‘We’ve plodded along doing what we’re doing, hopefully doing it well. And then all of a sudden there’s a bit of a hiatus and things have changed a bit.
“Naturally, the media are looking for people to fill the so-called void. But, you know, we have been doing this for what feels like a pretty long time! If people want to pay more attention to what we’re doing then great, because actually, that’s got to be good for our organisations and the work that we are trying to carry out.”
According to the couple, that work wasn’t impacted by the UK’s strict COVID lockdowns. Sophie kept up a busy timetable of volunteering – including cooking for health workers and helping out at a vaccination centre – to do her part. “I’m no good at sitting still and doing nothing – I’m useless,” she said.
And now, as the UK strives to get back to post-pandemic normal, the Wessexes are gearing up again – with their focus falling on the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award – the charity Philip founded in 1956, of which they’re both trustees. And, they explain, both Lady Louise and James, Viscount Severn, are taking part in the scheme, which helps young people learn crucial life skills.
Louise, who’s completing her Gold Award, “loved it, it’s really pushed her into doing things she’s had to schedule into her routine,” says her proud mum. “She’s quite a committed person anyway. This is the kind of thing that really ticks the boxes for her. But in terms of confidence, it’s given her a huge amount. She’s taken up fencing again as her skill, which she has really loved.”
James is doing the Bronze.
It seems family is everything to the Wessexes – both as a nuclear unit of four and as part of the larger royal clan – and they can take whatever is thrown at them, with aplomb.
“We are still a family no matter what happens, we always will be,” says Sophie, when asked about recent hardships, including the death of her husband’s beloved father.
Meanwhile, on the subject of “that” interview Harry gave Oprah, they jokingly plead ignorant: “Oprah who?” asks Edward, with a smile, while his wife adds, “Yes, what interview?”