Queen's reliance on Sophie Wessex discussed by expert
The Countess of Wessex became a member of the Royal Family after she married Prince Edward in June 1999. Following Prince Philip's death on April 9, Sophie was one of the first royals to speak publicly.
Sophie told those grieving on Sunday at the Royal Chapel of All Saints at Royal Lodge in Windsor that the Duke died “gently”.
She said: “You know it's going to happen but when it happens it's just this massive, massive hole.
"It was so gentle, it was just like someone took him by the hand and off he went.
"Very, very peaceful - and that's all you want with somebody isn't it?
"I think it's so much easier for the person that goes than the people left behind.
"We're all sitting here looking at each other going, 'This is awful'."
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Royal courtiers and experts have already suggested the Countess is a favourite of Her Majesty, but her front-and-centre role after Philip’s death has led experts to say she is “more than a daughter-in-law”.
One royal source said the Queen has a fondness for Edward and Sophie over her other children.
They said: “Edward happened to marry someone for whom his mother has great affection.
“Sophie is much more than a daughter-in-law, more of a daughter.”
Another courtier added: “If you’re asking who is Her Majesty’s favourite child, it’s none of them, it’s her daughter-in-law.”
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One senior royal aide told the Sun Sophie is “trusted and relied on by the Queen” more than other royals.
They told the outlet: “She is like another daughter to Her Majesty, they are that close. And that view was shared by Philip, who admired Sophie for how she buckled down to her duties.
“The Queen is also mindful that Sophie’s marriage has survived where her other children’s relationships have failed, and she knows that is in no small way down to Sophie’s dedication.
“She is aware, as Edward’s mother, what a tricky creature he can be.
“And not only has Sophie flourished as a dedicated, albeit still relatively junior member of the Royal Family, she has brought up two teenagers who are well-balanced and enthusiastic about trying new things.”
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Last year, royal expert Katie Nicholl told CBC News Queen Elizabeth II "adores" Sophie for approaching her royal duties "without a great deal of fuss".
She said: "[Sophie] goes about her duty diligently, quietly and without a great deal of fuss, and for that the Queen adores her.
"They are very close and spend a lot of time together when they are in Windsor, and the Queen loves riding with her grandchildren, James and Louise."
Ingrid Seward, editor in chief of Majesty magazine, also told the outlet: “Sophie does everything very quietly, partly because the media don't follow her obsessively as they do with William and Catherine and partly because the things she does aren't necessarily very glamorous.”