Details About King Charles' Relationship With Sophie, Countess Of Wessex

Sophie, Countess of Wessex may have been born a commoner, but when she married Prince Edward in 1999, she officially entered the British royal family (via Britannica). Like Princess Diana and Sarah Ferguson before her, the Countess of Wessex struggled with her newfound fame. As royal expert Ayesha Hazarika revealed in the documentary "Edward & Sophie: The Reluctant Royals?" (via YouTube), Sophie was uncomfortable with all of the media attention that she received in her royal position. "You can sort of see in her [Sophie's] face when suddenly she's surrounded by the paparazzi, it does look like it's a little bit overwhelming for her," Hazarika explained.

The British media was, in fact so ruthless with Sophie that in 1999, The Sun even published a topless photo of her (via The Guardian). According to the outlet, the incident was so humiliating for Sophie that, eventually, The Sun's then-editor, David Yelland, issued a formal apology to the then-bride-to-be. Nonetheless, the event showed Sophie just how difficult it is to be a woman marrying into the British royal family.

Because of these challenges, some royal fans might wonder whether or not Sophie maintains a good relationship with senior royals, such as King Charles. However, against all odds, Sophie, Countess of Wessex and King Charles seem to have fostered a close friendship and solid working relationship. In fact, even though some royal women have voiced their issues with the firm, Sophie is said to play a major role in King Charles' plans. 

Charles knows that Sophie supports the monarchy

King Charles might hold an influential position, but that doesn't mean he has his family's full support. Au contraire, the first months of his reign were largely dominated by his son, Prince Harry, who made several bombshell accusations against the monarchy. Just weeks following Charles' ascension into his new role, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex released the Netflix documentary, "Harry & Meghan," in which they accused the royal family of "planting" damaging news stories about them in the press (via Cosmopolitan). About one month later, Prince Harry published "Spare," a memoir that alleged Prince William physically attacked his younger brother.

Despite this definitive lack of familial unity, Charles seems to be able to rely on his sister-in-law, Sophie, Countess of Wessex for her consistent dedication to the crown. As royal historian Marlene Koenig told Express, the king does "not have to worry" about the countess. Apparently, Sophie's commitment to her job makes her a model working royal. "There are no scandals. She is happy to pick up new patronages and go out and fly the flag for the UK ... I suspect Charles likes her, again, because she is down to Earth, and she is dependable," Koenig explained. As such, in the face of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's exit, Sophie has become an increasingly visible member of palace life (via People).

Charles has been able to rely on Sophie for royal diplomacy

As the dynamics within the royal family shift, King Charles has come to trust Sophie, Countess of Wessex to represent the crown internationally. According to a report by Vanity Fair, the countess has taken on an increasingly diplomatic role under Charles' reign. Per the outlet, this shift was demonstrated in October 2022, when Sophie embarked on an official visit to Malawi. During this trip, the countess took a major role, even speaking in the name of the monarchy to commemorate Malawi's accomplishment of eradicating the eye disease, trachoma.

The Evening Standard reports that at Malawi's World Sight Day, Sophie gave a speech in which she shared some words on behalf of Buckingham Palace. "Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, my dear mother-in-law, was so proud of the Commonwealth and all that it stood for," the countess reportedly stated. "She knew of Malawi's achievement and was so pleased that this was made possible by the fund, with eyesight being its principle objective. She was so happy for Malawians."

While Charles didn't make an official statement lauding Sophie for representing Buckingham Palace, his actions spoke louder than words. Just two months following the trip to Malawi, Sophie was permitted to go to the United States, where she met Ukrainian First Lady, Olena Zelenska. The two women were honored at the Hillary Rodham Clinton Awards Ceremony at Georgetown University (via Hello!).

Charles can also trust Sophie to handle the Sussexes

Sophie, Countess of Wessex has offered King Charles her diplomacy skills outside the country, but that doesn't mean she doesn't also put those skills to work inside the royal family. The countess, who was once referred to as a "savvy peacemaker" by royal expert Camilla Tominey in a piece for The Telegraph, is rumored to be responsible for handling Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in tough moments. Because of this, royal expert Alastair Stewart told Express that Sophie has been a source of "strength" for the king following the Sussex's exit: "Charles is absolutely at his most peaceful now with Camilla, but I think the women in the family will be towers of strength for him not least Sophie and Anne."

One moment in which Sophie took on this role occurred when Charles was grappling with Harry's choice to step away from the monarchy. According to the book, "The New Royals" by Katie Nicholl, the king was "deeply troubled" about the prince's decision (via the Mirror). Per Nicholl's account, Sophie was able to step up and provide practical support to King Charles. She reportedly teamed up with Camilla, Queen Consort to try to usher the Sussexes back into the family. "Behind closed doors family members including Camilla and Sophie reached out on a number of occasions to Harry and Meghan," Nicholl said (via the Mirror).

Charles sees Sophie in the firm's future

Because of her dedication to the crown, Sophie, Countess of Wessex is arguably indispensable to King Charles. And, according to some reports, the monarch knows it. As per a 2021 report in the Mirror, Charles imagined the countess as a part of his firm, even before the death of Queen Elizabeth. The outlet reported that, based on then-Prince Charles' dream of a smaller monarchy, Queen Elizabeth had already hand-picked eight core senior members to take part in the "New Firm." Both Sophie and Prince Edward's names were included on the list of key royals.

This decision to include Sophie in the "New Firm" came, even as Charles was thinking of ways to cut certain members of the royal family out of the inner fold. According to royal writer Angela Levin, the monarch hopes that a smaller firm will cut palace-related costs (via the Mirror). "Prince Charles has wanted for a very long time to cut the monarchy down to save costs and to make people be worth the money that they got from the taxpayer," Levin said. 

The fact that Sophie will continue to participate in royal life hints at the possibility that Charles sees her as an integral member of the family. Interestingly, the public seems to agree with him. One poll conducted by Express showed that 93% of Brits believe that Sophie should "have a place in a slimmed-down monarchy." 

Charles' reign has seen Sophie with increased royal responsibilities

Part of the reason that King Charles has included Sophie, Countess of Wessex in the new phase of monarchy is the countess' deep dedication to her duties. Apparently, she is especially committed to her role of promoting charities and social issues. As the Mirror's royal editor Russell Myers revealed on an episode of "The Royal Beat" (via the Mirror): "Sophie's working with girls' education, she's done a lot of stuff about violence against females in Africa ... Sophie's really across her subject matter ... It's not just for show."

Perhaps because of her devotion to the crown, Sophie has taken on an even larger royal role under King Charles. Following Queen Elizabeth's passing, Sophie accepted many of the late monarch's royal patronages, according to the Mirror. This new level of responsibility came even as the countess was already involved in over 70 charities (via The Royal Family). Nonetheless, a royal insider told the Mirror that Queen Elizabeth knew that Sophie would do a good job continuing her work, since "Her Majesty admired Sophie's quiet sense of duty, her strong work ethic and the way she balanced her public and family lives." It seems that Charles shares his mother's view of the countess. In the same Mirror interview, the insider added that "Sophie's growing popularity with the public is also evident and she will take on a larger public profile in a new-look monarchy of King Charles."

Charles and Sophie seem to have a strong friendship

In addition to their strong working relationship, King Charles and Sophie, Countess of Wessex appear to have a close friendship. At the 2022 Ascot horse races, the king and the countess were spotted together with big smiles on their faces. In an interview with Express, body language expert Judi James dissected their nonverbal communication and analyzed what it could say about their relationship. "Sophie is clearly sharing a fun moment with her husband's brother." The body language expert later added that Charles "was positively beaming in delight as he chats to Sophie." For James, this interaction reveals a sense of closeness between Charles and his sister-in-law. Not only do the pair have a similar sense of humor, but they also seem to genuinely get along. As James told Express: "Sophie and Charles are roaring with laughter here ... Their body language is so mirrored it implies strong bonds of friendship" (via Express).

This was not the only occasion that Charles and Sophie shared a moment of friendship in public. As reported by Hello!, when the pair attended the 2022 Commonwealth Games, Sophie greeted the king with a kiss on the cheek. Interestingly, this gesture was a relatively rare moment of physical affection for a king who isn't especially demonstrative. In Prince Harry's memoir "Spare" (per Page Six), the prince alleged that Charles didn't even hug him when his mother died.

Sophie might feel closer to Charles than to Camilla

Sophie, Countess of Wessex clearly has a friendship with King Charles, and the same seems to be true about the pair's spouses. At the 2022 Commonwealth Games, Charles and Sophie were spotted with their respective partners, Camilla, Queen Consort, and Prince Edward. And, as body language expert Judi James told Express, the two couples seemed to hit it off. According to James, the event allowed royal fans to see "some rare public displays of fondness here between Charles and Camilla and Sophie and Edward, with the two brothers reminding us they are actually rather close."

Compellingly, however, the event revealed that Sophie might not actually be as friendly with Camilla as she is with the king. While the countess did give Camilla a peck on the cheek, James said that the two women's nonverbal communication seemed distant. "Camilla and Sophie's cheek-kiss greeting ritual is rather more cautious and careful, with the kiss coming while their torsos are still at a distance, rather than a more close-up kiss," the body language expert told Express

Nonetheless, in a separate interview with Express, James clarified that there doesn't seem to be any drama between Sophie and Camilla. "Both women seem polite to each other and both are clearly dedicated to their roles in the Firm ... They are both quite practical-looking women," James said. Even so, the nonverbal communication specialist added that "they are almost polar opposites in terms of signals of personality, though."

The king allowed Sophie to go to Balmoral when the queen died

Perhaps the biggest indicator of Sophie, Countess of Wessex's friendship with King Charles was that she was invited to say goodbye to Queen Elizabeth at Balmoral Castle. According to ABC News Australia, several high-ranking royals were invited to Balmoral Castle, where they hoped to see the queen in her final moments. These senior members of the firm included Prince William, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward, and the Countess of Wessex. Although this group arrived at the estate just minutes after the queen's passing, their presence at her Scottish home was majorly significant, as then-Prince Charles did not invite every member of the family to his mother's bedside.

In his memoir "Spare" (via The Sun), Prince Harry claimed that several royals were specifically not invited to mourn at Balmoral. Apparently, the group of excluded family members was principally comprised of royal wives. The prince wrote: "Then my father called again. He told me I was welcome at Balmoral, but... without her [Meghan Markle] ... He said, stammering, that he simply didn't want the place to be full of people. 'Nobody's wife was going to go, not even Kate,' he told me, 'so Meg shouldn't either.'"

Prince Andrew's ex-wife and longtime roommate Sarah Ferguson was also not invited to the gathering, as reported by the Daily Mail. Given that Charles excluded so many people from the event, the fact that he invited Sophie speaks volumes about her relationship with the monarch. 

Charles has watched Sophie step up and take Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's place

Part of the reason that King Charles seems to carry so much respect for Sophie, Countess of Wessex likely stems from the countess' "stiff upper lip" attitude. Beyond her role as a diplomat, support system, and dear friend, Sophie has shown her loyalty to the king by trying to fill the gap left by the Sussexes. As one anonymous source told The Sun, Sophie "has been singled out as a person the Palace would like to help ease the burden [of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's absences] ... She's very popular with other senior royals like Charles and Camilla, and has proved to be extremely good at public engagements."

Sophie's PR talent, however, does not indicate that she will take on the Sussex's charity work. Sophie believes that her role won't increase in terms of literal duties. "I am pretty busy already, so I'm not sure how much more I can do. There are only so many hours in the day," the Countess of Wessex told The Times (via People). She did, nonetheless, concede that, with the Sussexes gone, she will likely take on more attention from the press. "People may pay more attention to what I am doing, but I remain as busy as I have ever been," she explained. With scandalous story after story circulating about Harry and Meghan, it's assumed that Charles appreciates Sophie representing the firm and exceeding the palace's expectations.