Countess of Wessex returns to royal duties for a cause close to her heart

(Image credit: Heathcliff O'Malley)

Sophie, Countess of Wessex, returned to royal duties on Thursday after the royal family's summer break.

The Countess of Wessex's summer break officially came to an end this week as she returned to royal duties.

And her first royal engagement was for a cause close to her heart, as she visited Thames Valley Air Ambulance's (TVAA) HQ at White Waltham Airfield, Maidenhead to launch their 21st anniversary celebrations.

Her visit comes just days before National Air Ambulance Week kicks off from 7-13th September.

She was given a tour of the TVAA helicopter and met those who had benefited from the service, as well as the crew.

There was even time for a spot of light entertainment, as she joked, "I've been in here so often I could fly it myself," she joked, as pilot Dave Webber led the tour of the cockpit.

READ MORE: Inside the subtle style changes made by Sophie Wessex

It was no doubt a special day for Sophie, 55, who became a patron of TVAA back in 2019 - 18 years after relying on the service herself after she was air-lifted to hospital following a potentially life-threatening ectopic pregnancy in 2011.

Speaking about her personal connection to the charity at the time, Prince Edward's wife said, "Having personally benefited from its expert crew in 2001, the Countess knows only too well how every day, anyone in the community could be in urgent need of the organisation’s vital emergency service."

She is now mum to two children - 16-year-old Lady Louise Windsor and 12-year-old James, Viscount Severn.

Sophie's latest royal engagement comes after it was suggested she is making "subtle" style changes as she prepares to take on a more senior role within the family.

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With reports suggesting she could one day become the Duchess of Edinburgh, if Edward becomes the Duke of Edinburgh after his father, her role is set to become even more important. And a fashion expert revealed she's already preparing.

Gareth O’Rourke – director of fashion buying at CHO clothing – told that her “elegant yet simple fashion sense” has evolved in recent times, which could be a sign of her paving her way into a bigger role within the family.

“She is known to be extremely hard working in her role to support the Queen and her involvement in various charity work,” Gareth explained.

“Her bold outfits could suggest her newly added responsibility within the Royal Family.

“It also suggests the importance of her appealing to a wider audience now that she is in line to become the Duchess of Edinburgh.”

Georgia Farquharson

Georgia writes across Woman & Home and Good to Know and specialises in all things royal. Previously labelled the "Queen of the royals," Georgia knows the whose who and what's what when it comes to the monarchy. When she's not eagerly following the royal family, Georgia enjoys shopping and self-care. She lives with this motto in mind; "if your dreams don't scare you, they aren't big enough."