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Sophie Wessex celebrates 50th birthday: 20 facts about the royal

January 20, 2015
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The Countess of Wessex celebrates her 50th birthday on 20 January. Sophie, who has been married to Prince Edward for 15 years, will be spending the day carrying out engagements with her husband, showing it's business as usual for the dedicated royal. To honour the Countess' milestone birthday, HELLO! Online has gathered a list of 20 facts about the Queen's daughter-in-law.

sophie wessex1 © Photo: Getty Images

Sophie Wessex will be spending her 50th birthday carrying out engagements with her husband Prince Edward

 1. The future royal was born Sophie Helen Rhys-Jones at Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford, on 20 January 1965. She is the second child of Christopher Bournes Rhys-Jones and his wife Mary. 2. Sophie met Prince Edward during a charity tennis event in 1993 and the couple dated for six years before announcing their engagement on 6 January 1999. 3. The stunning engagement ring, which featured a two-carat oval diamond flanked by two heart-shaped gemstones, was made by jeweller to the royals Asprey and Garrard, and is worth an estimated £105,000.

sophie wessex wedding © Photo: Getty Images

Prince Edward and Sophie Wessex married at Windsor Castle in 1999

4. Sophie and Edward's wedding took place on 19 June 1999 at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. Royalty from around the world, including Queen Anne-Marie of Greece and Prince Joachim of Denmark, attended the wedding ceremony, which was watched by an estimated 200 million people worldwide. 5. The royal bride arrived with her father, in a Rolls Royce owned by the Queen. 6. The couple's wedding cake was decorated with tennis rackets reflecting their love for the sport and how they met.

sophie wessex wedding anniversary © Photo: Getty Images

Prince Edward and the Countess of Wessex were together for six years before they wed

7. The British royal shares her birthday with Belgium's Queen Mathilde, singer Gary Barlow and Strictly Come Dancing star Mark Wright. 8. Her full royal title is Her Royal Highness The Princess Edward, Countess of Wessex, Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, Dame of Justice of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem. 9. She will eventually become the Duchess of Edinburgh when Edward inherits the title Duke of Edinburgh.

sophie wessex and louise © Photo: Getty Images

The royal couple with their firstborn Lady Louise Windsor

10. Married to the Queen's youngest son, Sophie is known to have a strong bond with her mother-in-law. They are often spotted riding together at weekends in the magnificent grounds of Windsor Park, and the Queen has been known to turn up unannounced at Edward and Sophie's Surrey home for afternoon tea. 11. The popular Countess once revealed that she couldn't find her seat at a state banquet at Buckingham Palace minutes before the Queen was due to speak. "I shan't forget the look I got when I couldn't find my chair and she was looking to do her speech," the Countess joked during ITV's documentary Our Queen. "I decided I might study the notes a little more carefully next time." 12. Dedicated to her royal role, Sophie carried out 307 engagements n 2014, up from her 228 in 2013.

sophie wessex and queen © Photo: Getty Images

Sophie enjoys a close relationship with her mother-in-law the Queen

13. Sophie has been known to show her sensitive side and during the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall in 2013 to mark Remembrance Sunday, the royal was moved to tears as family members of fallen soldiers were introduced on stage. 14. On 8 November 2003, Sophie gave birth to her and Edward's first child, Lady Louise, at Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey. The Countess had to undergo an emergency caesarean after a placental abruption put her and Louise in danger. 15. Four years later in December 2007, Sophie returned to the same hospital where she and Edward welcomed James, Viscount Severn.  

sophie wessex stylish © Photo: Getty Images

The elegant royal became the first royal patron of the London College of Fashion

16. The caring Countess is patron of over 75 organisations, and last year became the first royal patron of the London College of Fashion. 17. Sophie and Edward celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary last year and the Queen is said to be extremely proud of the couple's strong union. 18. Like many royals, Sophie is a keen sportswoman and she enjoys walking, running, sailing and riding.

sophie wessex doctor who © Photo: Getty Images

Sophie Wessex is a self-confessed Doctor Who fan

19. Sophie is a friend of Monaco's Princess Charlene, who recently became a mother to twins. The royal wives were spotted catching up at Princess Madeleine of Sweden's wedding in 2013 and the Monaco Grand Prix in 2012. 20. In 2013, the self-confessed Doctor Who fan held a reception at Buckingham Palace to celebrate the Time Lord's 50th anniversary where she met stars of the show Tom Baker, Peter Davison and Matt Smith.

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