As she celebrates her 50th birthday this week, the Countess of Wessex is more confident and at peace with life than ever. Sophie, whose birthday is on 20 January, brings an easy charm and enthusiasm to public life – qualities that are highly valued within the royal family. Not least by the Queen, who often asks her elegant blonde daughter-in-law to represent her.
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HELLO! recently revealed that her husband Prince Edward is going to throw her a huge bash to celebrate the birthday.
If anyone deserves to be the centre of attention then it is Sophie, who has transformed herself from a rather shy, sensible-looking PR executive to being a leading star within the Firm as she enters her fabulous fifties.
"The key with Sophie is that she's really on trend without being outrageously trendy," her close friend jewellery designer Belinda Hadden told HELLO! "She looks after herself without being obsessive. She is content with life and at total peace and it shows. She is beautiful."
Looking after herself involves a fitness regime of Pilates, riding and tennis, which she stepped up after the birth of her two children Louise in 2003 and James in 2007.
The Countess champions British brands such as Bruce Oldfield, Emilia Wickstead and Erdem – also the Duchess of Cambridge, née Kate Middleton's favourites. The fashion world has taken notice. In 2013, Sophie was asked to become patron of the London College of Fashion.
No mere clothes horse, she works really hard for her causes – which include Childline, the National Autistic Society and a project to rehabilitate female prisoners – getting stuck in with a relaxed, down-to-earth attitude.
VIEW GALLERY The Countess of Wessex with husband Prince Edward
She drives herself to many engagements and speaks knowledgeably on her chosen topics.
Sophie says she's learned from the doyenne of public life. "In the early days I used to rush around as quickly as I could. But when you observe the Queen, she does things in such a measured way... I hope I've learned to do things in a slightly more elegant way."