How unsung royals reinvented themselves to be key players in slimmed-down monarchy

Source: Royal Family Channel

The youngest of the King’s three siblings and 14th in line to the throne has stepped up his duties in the face of the royal family’s health crisis.

Queen Elizabeth’s youngest son, and the King’s youngest brother, Edward, was seen this week with his wife Sophie presiding over a ceremony celebrating the 120th anniversary of the Entente Cordiale agreement between the UK and France.

They inspected members of the Gendarmerie’s Garde Republicaine and F Company Scots Guards in the Buckingham Palace forecourt in place of the King, who is recovering from cancer treatment.

Following the sudden departure of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, the scandals surrounding Prince Andrew, and the Prince and Princess of Wales spending family time together after Kate’s cancer diagnosis, Edward and Sophie are now seen as the unsung stars carrying the family load.

Royal watchers were quick to comment on the pair’s “elegant” appearance at the ceremony, as their official royal diary continues to fill over the next few months.

As full-time working members of the royal family, in a rare television interview marking his 60th birthday last month, Edward told gardening expert Alan Titchmarsh on ITV’s Love Your Weekend show Sophie was his “rock”.

“I’m incredibly lucky that I found Sophie and that she found me”.

‘How they finally got it right’

In recent years, up until the late queen’s death in 2022, Edward and Sophie enjoyed a much closer relationship with her and Prince Philip after scandals marred the early years of their married life in the late 1990s.

Sophie became “very close to her mother-in-law and has been noted as the monarch’s ‘favourite’ family member”, wrote the Daily Mail UK.

She formed a close bond with the royal family after losing her own mother when her daughter Louise was just two years old.

“She was also extremely distraught following the death of the Duke Edinburgh, and became the Queen’s ‘rock’ following his funeral [in 2021].”.

When respected royal commentator Dickie Arbiter and his daughter, Victoria, marked Edward’s 60th birthday last month, they spoke about the evolution of the couple in a special Youtube royal report.

It was headlined: “How they finally got it right.”

They became “highly valued” members of the royal family “after earlier controversy ended their attempts to combine commercial careers with being working royals”.

Two years after she and Edward married in 1999, Sophie was recorded by Mazher Mahmood, an undercover reporter posing as a sheikh, who claimed to want to engage the PR company she ran with a lucrative contract.

“Sophie got duped by someone pretending to be a sheikh [who reportedly wanted engage her PR company with a lucrative contract] … ultimately [she] got recorded making a couple of disparaging remarks about Cherie Blair,  the wife of former prime minister Tony Blair.

“Although Buckingham Palace denied it, she referred to the queen as an ‘old dear’ … it is disrespectful when you’re talking about the reigning British monarch … but it is an important part of Sophie’s journey,” Victoria says.

Adds Dickie: “She learned a very bitter lesson … and it wasn’t long after that that she closed up her public relations consultancy and became a full-time royal.”

“She’s been doing some incredible work since … both she and Edward … they’re unsung heroes, quite frankly, they don’t get covered a lot by the press.”

The family of four – Sophie, son James, daughter Louise, and Edward – pictured far right on the balcony at Buckingham Palace in 2022. Photo: Getty

Last year, The Independent wrote about the couple, and how they endured scandal to become senior royals, “reinventing themselves”.

“Prince Edward was forced to endure speculation about his sexuality in his younger years, something he attributed to his love of the theatre,” it said in March.

“The way in which these rumours were perpetuated is pretty horrifying in hindsight.

“While the public certainly has a long memory when it comes to royal scandal, it seems that the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh have managed to wait it out.

“These days, they’ve almost reinvented themselves.

“It was a surprise to most that the fourth child of the Queen would have to take up such a central position.”

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