The Queen has been supported by visits from the Countess of Wessex who continues to be “a tremendous source of comfort” in her darkest hour, royal sources have revealed.
After describing the death of her beloved Prince Philip as having left a “huge void” in her life, the Queen has been buoyed by meetings with Prince Edward’s wife Sophie, alongside her own children.
The Queen has for many years shared a “wonderfully close” relationship with the former PR executive, often encouraging her to take on more responsibility for the family.
The pair are understood to have privately agreed to collaborate on at least two future projects of Sophie’s projects, prior to the Duke’s death on Friday at Windsor Castle aged 99.
Described by palace insiders and friends as “kind and caring”, Sophie this week paid tribute to Her Majesty, simply saying “she is amazing”.
In typical deference when speaking to parishioners after attending a church service on Sunday with Edward and their daughter Lady louise, 17, Sophie remarked how the Queen was “thinking of others before herself”.
A royal source said: “The Countess has been a tremendous source of comfort to the Queen.
“The Queen is very practical in making sure everyone is okay and despite her tremendous grief at the passing she is no different.
“Sophie cherishes her relationship with the Queen and not only appreciates her guidance and wisdom throughout her own life, she is very protective of her.
“Their bond is very like a mother and daughter and the feeling of love and respect is quite mutual.
"It is very special.”
In the lead up to the Duke’s funeral at Windsor Castle at 3pm on Saturday, Sophie was one of the first people to visit the Queen with Edward.
During the coronavirus crisis, where the Queen has largely isolated since last March at Windsor Castle, Sophie, Edwards and her children, Lady Louise, 17 and James, Viscount Severn, 13, have been regular visitors from their home at Bagshot Park, Surrey.
Lady Louise paid a touching tribute to her grandfather Prince Philip as she was spotted out carriage driving in the grounds of Windsor Castle on the morning of his death.
Philip shared a close relationship with the teenager, encouraging her to take over the pursuit he was instrumental in helping to establish as a sport in Britain.
It emerged yesterday that Sophie will be part of the group of senior royals who are keen to ensure the monarch is accompanied by a member of the family on future public engagements.
The Queen chose to carry out her first engagement with Sophie after returning to Windsor last October, after summer and autumn break to Balmoral and Sandringham with Prince Philip last October.
The video call to mark World Sight Day was arranged after Sophie and the Queen held private discussions to update her on how the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust had helped millions of people save their sight.
The 56-year-old, whose mother Mary died in 2005, is said to be like another daughter to her.
During the Queen’s isolation for the past year at Windsor Castle alongside her husband, she has been a frequent visitor outside of the successive lockdowns.
Working royal Sophie already takes on a packed schedule repressing the monarchy at home and abroad, including work with children’s hospices and the United Nations.
Our source added: “Sophie takes her role within the family incredibly seriously but is tremendous fun, which is probably why the Queen and her get on so well.”
The Queen officially entered an eight-day period of mourning following Philip’s death, while there will be a further official period of 30 days for the Royal Family, after which the Queen will make a full return to public life and duties.
Sources said she will fulfil as many commitments as possible once the two weeks of official mourning ends on April 22 - the day after her 95th birthday.
The Queen will attend the state opening of Parliament, supported by her son Prince Charles, at Westminster on May 11.
Meanwhile, brothers Prince William and Prince William are unlikely to be able to meet up before they come face to face at Prince Philip’s funeral.
Harry is isolating at his Frogmore Cottage home on the grounds of the Windsor Estate Sources have revealed the brothers are “united in grief” but tensions still remain between the Duke of Sussex after he blasted his family with wife Meghan in a tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey last month.
The family will be hoping they can put their differences aside as they prepare to walk behind their grandfather’s coffin on Saturday after both releasing heartfelt tributes this week.
The funeral, which can only be attended by 30 people due to coronavirus restrictions, is likely to attract one of the largest television audiences of the year.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose televised address on January 4 announcing a new national lockdown was watched by 25.1 million people across five channels.
Some 14.1 million watched on BBC One alone - the biggest TV audience for a single channel so far this year.
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In second place is the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s interview with US broadcaster Oprah Winfrey, broadcast by ITV on March 8 and watched by 13.9million.
But the expectation of “a big national moment”, the royals have urged wellwishers to stay at home for their own safety amid the pandemic.
John Story, mayor of Windsor and Maidenhead, described Saturday’s funeral as “a great honour” for the district but pointed out it will be taking place behind the walls of Windsor Castle because of Covid-19 concerns.
Police are carrying out specialist searches every day as the preparations continue.
Thames Valley Police said it has put a range of visible and covert security measures in place for Saturday, when the duke is to be honoured with a ceremonial royal funeral at St George’s Chapel, in the grounds of Windsor Castle.