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Duchess Sophie pays tearful tribute to 'darling' and 'best friend' Prince Edward

The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh walked down the aisle in 1999

Prince Edward and Duchess Sophie smiling
Matthew Moore
Online News Writer & Diversity and Inclusion Lead
8 March 2024
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Prince Edward will mark his 60th birthday on Sunday and in a special speech, the Duchess of Edinburgh paid tribute to the man she named as her "darling" and "best friend".

On Friday, the royal couple headed to the Community Sport and Recreation Awards in Leeds, where the Duchess made her moving remarks. "If I may, I beg your indulgence for a few minutes, as I wanted to also take this opportunity to recognise another great milestone and share a small tribute to my darling husband as he celebrates his 60th birthday, this Sunday," Sophie said.

"Now I know from the many years of marriage we have chalked up, 25 years in June to be precise, he will be horrified at seeing me up here speaking about him in public. Without looking at him, I am guessing he will now be sitting back with slightly narrowed eyes, possibly with his arms folded, or one arm stretched out across the table and to all intents and purposes looking identical to his father when I made speeches about him."

The mum-of-two continued, noting how the late Duke of Edinburgh hated public tributes, before giving an insight into her husband, who currently holds the title.

Duchess Sophie delivering a speech at a podium© Chris Jackson
Sophie dedicated an emotional speech to her husband

Sophie highlighted Edward's work with the Duke of Edinburgh awards alongside the other charitable organisations that the 59-year-old either supports or is a patron of.

Sophie then said: "He has been my guide and shown me the way over the years. He has given me much help and advice (not always taken I admit), and his knowledge and instincts that have been honed over decades of service are invaluable - so we share speech notes (not this one, sorry darling!), chat through issues our patronages may be tackling, and together I think we make quite a good team.

Prince Edward with his hands underneath his head© Chris Jackson
Sophie's words made Edward emotional

"Like an iceberg, what is seen above the water or in public is only a small proportion of what goes on behind the scenes. What is never seen or can ever be quantified is the effort spent on ensuring good governance for his patronages, encouraging people to support worthwhile causes, chairing committees, meeting chief executives and think tanks, writing papers, speeches, forewords, introductions, the list goes on. But whatever he is doing he gives 150% of himself, and if all else fails he gives any energy he has left out to our exhausted dogs or laying waste to the garden."

Sophie concluded her speech by saying: "Like my father-in-law, my husband never seeks compliments for himself. So when acknowledgment has come his way it has always been a total surprise to him, which is why I am grateful for this chance to, for once, be able to publicly celebrate and compliment him.

Prince Edward and Duchess Sophie in front of a cake© Chris Jackson
The royal was presented with a cake following his wife's speech

"He was so happy and humbled when Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth made him a Knight of The Garter in 2006 and was equally delighted and moved the day His Majesty The King – who we are both incredibly proud to support – made him Duke of Edinburgh. Both he deserves in equal measure and I am so proud of the man he is.

"He is the best of fathers, the most loving of husbands and still is my best friend. So here's to you my darling Edward and may I along with all your family and so many friends and many others wish you the Happiest of Birthdays!"

Prince Edward and Duchess Sophie in front of a cake© Chris Jackson
The royal was presented with a cake following his wife's speech

During the speech, both Edward and Sophie were seen wiping tears, and the couple, who married in 1999, embraced following the royal's touching words.

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Following Sophie's speech, Edward was presented with a birthday cake to mark his upcoming birthday. Earlier in the day, the royal had received a rugby jersey with the number 60 on it, a reference to how old he'll be turning.

Prince Edward holding a rugby jersey in front of a group of young girl© Chris Jackson
Edward will turn 60 on Sunday

"Thanks a bunch. I really need to be reminded," Edward teased.

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