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As Prince Edward and Sophie Countess of Wessex celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary, we take a look back at one of our favourite royal romances.
Prince Edward married PR consultant Sophie Rhys-Jones in a simple ceremony (at least by royal standards) at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on 19th June 1999, six years after the couple met at a tennis match in 1993.
Sophie, who became Countess of Wessex on marrying Edward, wore a silk organza dress designed by Samantha Shaw, which was decorated with more than 300,000 crystals and pearls, and accessorised with a tiara borrowed from the Queen’s personal collection.
The evening service was televised worldwide, drawing a global audience of more than 200 million viewers. The new husband and wife were whisked off to their reception at St George’s Hall in an open-topped, horse-drawn carriage after the continental-style ceremony.
Two decades and two children later (James Viscount Severn, born in 2007, and Lady Louise Windsor, who was born prematurely following an emergency C-section in 2003) and they’re still going strong. In fact 55-year-old Edward, who is the Queen’s youngest son, is the only one of her children not to have been divorced. So what’s the couple’s secret?
“We manage to have a good laugh about things most of the time,” Edward revealed before the wedding. “And we happen to love each other, which is the most important thing of all.”
54-year-old Sophie, who comes from a middle-class background and previously worked for Capital Radio, has kept her feet planted firmly on the ground, despite marrying into the royal family. She continued to work in PR until 2002, when the couple became full-time royals.
Not that they used that as an excuse to rest on their laurels. The Earl of Wessex is a patron of several sports and arts organisations, including Paralympics GB, Northern Ballet and the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain, while his wife supports more than 70 national and international charities and organisations, spanning fashion, agriculture, disability and preventative healthcare.
Three years ago, Sophie even took part in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Diamond Challenge, cycling 445 miles from Edinburgh’s Holyroodhouse to Buckingham Palace. And this year, she made history by making the first official royal visit to Lebanon, where she visited a Syrian refugee camp.
We hope they find some time to put their feet up while they celebrate the last 20 years.