Sophie, Countess of Wessex May Be the British Royal Family’s Secret Weapon

The British royal family will never be the same. Following Prince Andrew’s explosive scandal and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry’s decision to resign as senior working members, the royals have had to restructure their institution.

Though Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles have remained a steady force amid Megxit, and now the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, a lot of the royal duties and burden of how the family will look moving forward has fallen on Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. Though it will be quite sometime before the Duke of Cambridge sits on the throne, he is already preparing for his role.

Since the Cambridges aren’t going to be able to shoulder their new responsibilities alone, without the Sussexes to lean on, the royal family has turned to their secret weapon, a modern royal who has done royal life her way for many years.

Sophie, Countess of Wessex and Prince Edward are respected members of the British royal family

As the youngest son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Prince Edward has been able to fly under the radar. For years, he even worked a normal job, as did his wife, the Countess of Wessex.

Since they’ve remained dutiful and drama-free, the Wessexes are quite beloved within and outside of the royal family. “Edward has molded into a quiet and efficient figure who does not seek attention or acquire headlines,” a source told Express“He and Sophie are liked for being dutiful and uncomplaining.”

Since they are respected by all, they’ve also been able to ease some reported tensions between certain members of the royal family.

Meghan Markle is close with Sophie, Countess of Wessex

Though she was often paired with the Duchess of Cambridge, the Duchess of Sussex was always much closer to the Countess of Wessex. “According to sources, the Queen has earmarked Sophie as a royal mentor for Meghan,” royal expert Katie Nicholl told Express in April 2019. “The two spent time together at Royal Ascot last year and are understood to get along well. The pair share similar backgrounds, as Sophie, like Meghan, gave up a successful career (in PR) to marry into the Royal Family, so is in a position to help Meghan.”

Still, the countess has been able to obtain some semblance of privacy that the duchess never had considering her own celebrity and her husband’s position as a favorite member of the royal family.

Sophie, Countess of Wessex is the royal family’s secret weapon

In addition to being well-liked, the countess has been able to live her life the way she sees fit. “Her work does not regularly receive the kind of media attention that the younger royals command, but Sophie, now 55, has become a stalwart member of the firm,” Town & Country reports. “Her husband is far down the pecking order at 11th in line to the throne, but the Wessexes are two of just a handful of full-time working royals. And the spotlight on Sophie has intensified in the vacuum left as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle step back.”

More than that, as a patron of more than 70 organizations who carries out approximately 240 engagements each year, the countess has mastered the approachability that the royals often lack. “She actually presents herself as an ordinary person and I think that is increasingly what the royal family needs to do,” says Amanda Pullinger, CEO of 100 Women in Finance. “It’s interesting—she’s not nicey nicey. Of course she’s polite, but she’ll tell you what she thinks. If she disagrees she’ll say, and she’s done it to me a number of times. And I think that’s fantastic. I think she’s somebody who’s gained a lot of confidence in this area.”

As a champion of women and girls, the Countess of Wessex is who the Duchess of Sussex could have been had she been given a real chance.