“In the absence of Prince Harry and Prince Andrew, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, has been stepping up to the plate and making a much bigger contribution on the royal scene,” Phil explains.
Once relegated to the background, Sophie, 56, has suddenly been called upon to take over a raft of royal responsibilities and public engagements.
“I think Sophie was always willing to take a bigger role but she was overshadowed by more senior royals,” Phil notes. “But now her time has come.”
And it seems the former public relations business owner has taken to busier royal life recently like a duck to water, with even Queen Elizabeth herself reportedly now regarding Sophie as very much one of her firm “favourites”.
But the downside is all these new solo engagements have meant the mother-of-two endures much more time apart from her husband and family. According to Phil, this transitional period has also shone a spotlight on the stark differences between Sophie and Prince Edward. While the countess has dutifully risen to the occasion, Prince Edward appears to be floundering in her shadow.
“I’m sure being in the spotlight has put pressure on Edward and Sophie and their marriage, but they seem to have learnt how to deal with it, and the plan seems to be Sophie out front and Edward in the background,” Phil adds.
“She is a rising star and ironically now much bigger than her husband Prince Edward. I think he knows that she has the magic quality he lacks but he seems content to stay in the background and support his wife. He looks after their children [Louise is 17; James 12] when she’s away and seems very family orientated.”
Sophie’s sudden promotion within the royal family seemed unlikely as recently as a few years ago when she and Prince Edward, 56, were outranked by multiple senior royal family members. However, a unique set of recent circumstances has changed all that.
“The Queen and Philip are in their 90s, Charles, Camilla and Anne their 70s, Andrew is in disgrace and Harry has departed,” Phil says.
“The Queen and Philip have 1500 patronages between them, so who will fill the gap? There is a massive place for her, despite Prince Charles wanting a slimmed-down monarchy.”
Meanwhile, Phil predicts that Sophie’s sudden royal breakthrough may also give rise to another royal “star” waiting in wings.
“Their daughter Lady Louise is growing up fast and I’m told is highly intelligent,” the royal watcher adds.
“She could turn out to be a star in her own right and will get a lot of inspiration from her mum.”
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