Inside Princess Diana's Strained Relationship With Sophie, Duchess Of Edinburgh

Princess Diana and Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh, may have looked alike, but they couldn't have been more different. And according to reports, they didn't always see eye to eye.

While Diana entered the British royal family as a naive 20-year-old, Sophie — born Sophie Rhys-Jones — was a seasoned public relations expert in her 30s. As the presumed future queen of the United Kingdom, Diana became one of the world's most famous women the minute an engagement ring was on her finger. Sophie, meanwhile, married a lower-ranking Mountbatten-Windsor. Her husband, Prince Edward, Duke of Edinburgh, was third in line for the throne when he was born but has since plummeted to number 14. As a result, Sophie is not exactly a household name.

The differences between the two women multiply from there. And based on palace scuttlebutt, the old adage that opposites attract didn't apply to them: Diana allegedly couldn't stand Sophie.

Diana and Sophie entered the royal family under very different circumstances

The scene in "The Crown" that depicts Diana, Princess of Wales, meeting Prince Charles — now King Charles III — for the first time was pretty embellished. All we know for sure is that Charles met Diana when she was only a teen. He remarked in their engagement interview in 1981, "I remember thinking what a very jolly and amusing and attractive 16-year-old she was."

Charles and Diana walked down the aisle a few months later, when she was 20 and he was 32. Diana described herself as "the virgin, the sacrificial lamb" when reflecting on her wedding day, per "Diana: Her True Story."

Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh, meanwhile, was a fully formed adult with a thriving public relations career when she married into the royal family in 1999. Born Sophie Rhys-Jones, she was 22 when she met her husband, Prince Edward, and 34 when they got married. Not only was Sophie older, but she also reportedly got to skip a particularly outdated royal bride rite of passage: the virginity check. While Diana is rumored to have submitted to the check, per Express, Sophie didn't have to.

Many noticed the physical resemblance between the two women

When Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh — then known as Sophie Rhys-Jones — started dating Prince Edward in 1993, Princess Diana was a seasoned royal wife. Born only four years after Diana, Sophie once complained in an interview that she'd been compared to the then-Princess of Wales since she was only 15, according to The Daily Mail.

"I don't deny that we do look alike," Sophie said, per The Daily Mail, "but I couldn't ever compete with Diana's image. I'm not Diana." This didn't stop The Los Angeles Times from dubbing Sophie "Di-dentical" to her future sister-in-law.

Diana reportedly didn't try to make Sophie feel better behind closed doors, either. Diana died before Sophie married into the royal family, but the two met when Sophie and Edward were dating — and the interaction left Sophie feeling "intimidated," according to Andrew Morton's "Diana: In Pursuit of Love." At a family gathering, Diana allegedly stared intensely at Sophie during teatime with the royal family. Sophie reportedly left the encounter in tears.

Diana was said to have called Sophie 'my double' behind her back

Diana, Princess of Wales, was an undeniable style icon by the time Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh, started dating Prince Edward. Her short blond hair was especially influential. As Vogue India notes, "She inspired thousands, if not millions of women across the globe to embrace abbreviated cuts with soft, side-swept bangs worn loose or teased up with blasts of Aqua Net to gravity-defying effect."

Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh, was seemingly one of those women. Tall with short blond hair, Sophie couldn't have been surprised when the comparisons came flooding in. But it still must have stung when the press reported that Diana was calling her "my double" and being annoyed by her "copycat" style behind her back.

The Herald gave Sophie props at the time: "She has weathered the storms of press harassment, Princess Diana being scathing about her apparent copycat haircut, and the trauma of looking like a potential princess ... " And it wasn't just the press who noticed the resemblance. Royal correspondent Judy Wade reported that when Diana saw Sophie, she would mutter, "Oh look, here comes my double," according to Express.

Diana thought Sophie was copying her fitness routine too

It wasn't only Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh's haircut that allegedly raised Princess Diana's hackles. Diana also thought the then-royal-girlfriend was copying other aspects of her lifestyle. Diana was known for her tailored, streamlined '90s looks — and she thought Sophie was mimicking them.

Royal correspondent Judy Wade described Diana's alleged disdain for Sophie's style in a royal documentary, per Express. "She really ought to get her own look," Wade recounted Diana as saying. "And there are plenty of things she could do. She could dress in softer, less tailored clothes, just to find her own look."

Not even Sophie's fitness routine was safe from Diana's ire. Diana famously worked out at the chic Harbour Club in Chelsea, according to The Evening Standard. It makes sense that Sophie, who dealt with royal security concerns just like Diana, might pick the same gym that was accustomed to Diana's comings and goings. But Diana reportedly took Sophie's membership there as yet another attempt at copying. "She's done too many things that I know used to irritate Diana," Wade said (via Express), adding, "She even went to lose weight and keep fit at the Chelsea Harbour Club, which was Diana's famous fitness center."

Sophie frequently appeared to dress identically to Diana

Royal women adhere to a strict dress code that leaves them without many options for differentiating their personal style from that of their fellow duchesses and princesses. Perhaps that's why people are constantly accusing Meghan Markle of dressing like Kate Middletonand vice versa — while also debating which royal wife is more guilty of copying their late mother-in-law Princess Diana's iconic style. Do royal women copy each other's outfits due to a lack of creativity or a lack of options? It's an eternal debate.

When it comes to Diana and Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh, though, it's clear what Diana's opinion was. As we've mentioned, Diana allegedly called Sophie her "double" behind her back, and it wasn't just because of the latter's look-alike haircut.

"She's chosen red dresses that were almost identical to things that Diana wore," royal correspondent Judy Wade said, per Express. "The blazer and the trousers that Diana wore. She just seemed to be aping Diana, and Diana was sort of partly amused and partly irritated by it."

They've even twinned in the exact same Saudi Arabian-gifted necklace

Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh, has dealt with accusations of copying Princess Diana since she was a teenager. But that didn't stop her from wearing the exact same piece of royal jewelry Diana once wore to a high-profile event.

In the royal family, high-value jewels are often gifted to the reigning monarch. The monarch can lend them out to the other royal women. That's how Diana came to wear the showstopping King Faisal diamond necklace in 1983. It was a gift from King Faisal of Saudi Arabia to Queen Elizabeth II. Sophie would go on to sport it in 2012, resulting in plenty of side-by-side comparisons of Sophie and the late Diana.

Royal fans might realize this isn't the only time a Saudi Arabian bauble has caused friction for the family: Meghan Markle was the subject of international criticism when she wore earrings gifted to her by Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia — the crown prince accused of ordering journalist Jamal Khashoggi's assassination.

Diana may have resented Sophie for being allowed to live with Edward before marriage

Fans of "The Crown" will know Princess Diana was thrown into the deep end when she became involved with the royal family at just 19. Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh, received totally different treatment, according to some reports. And this may have contributed to Diana's disdain for Sophie.

For one thing, Sophie reportedly enjoyed the privilege of calling her royal beau by his first name, according to The Herald. Meanwhile, Diana called Prince Charles "sir" until they were engaged. Whether that was required by the family or not is unclear. Sophie also eased into royal life with a five-year courting period while Charles only courted Diana for less than a year (and a handful of in-person conversations) before they tied the knot. Adding insult to injury, Sophie got to live with Prince Edward and test-drive royal life before she accepted an engagement. Diana had no such experience.

As Sophie took it slow, she received rave reviews from the royal family and the public alike. One Express headline trumpeted that Sophie "excelled in royal life where ... Diana failed." As a result, Diana allegedly called Sophie "little miss goody two shoes," according to The New York Post, and asked fellow royal Sarah Ferguson, "Why is she getting such an easy ride? We were thrown to the wolves."

Sophie was deemed unthreatening to the monarchy compared to Diana — but ended up with a major scandal of her own

Princess Diana left the royal family in a blaze of scandal, just as Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh, was entering the fold. As Diana was spilling to Martin Bashir about her infidelity-ridden marriage and her doubts that then-Prince Charles would make a good king, Sophie was carving out her own place in the family as a reliable — and reliably silent — royal consort.

Author Gyles Brandreth said Sophie "appeared to have a sensible head on resolute shoulders," per Express. But soon, she fell prey to a scammer known as the "Fake Sheikh." Sophie was still working as a publicist in 2001 when, two years after she'd married into the royal family, an undercover journalist recorded her spilling some secrets about the royal family. She referred to the queen mother as "the old lady" and jibed the current King Charles III and Queen Camilla for their low popularity. The scandal resulted in worldwide coverage — and accusations that she was using her royal connections for professional gain.

Diana died in 1997 and wasn't around for the "Fake Sheikh" dust-up. But if she had still been in the fold, maybe she and Sophie would have finally found a commonality to bond over besides their eerily similar looks.