Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, is married to Queen Elizabeth’s youngest son Prince Edward, and both fly under the radar in comparison to other members of the royal family.
But Sophie is about to step into a brighter spotlight, taking on some of the patronages that belonged to the Queen before her death on September 8.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Why Meghan and other royal women didn’t walk in Queen’s procession
For more Royal Family related news and videos check out Royal Family >>
And it seems one of her “unofficial” roles within the royal family is as a kind of peacemaker, if a kind gesture towards Meghan Markle at Westminster Hall this week is anything to go by.
The pair had traveled together in a car behind the foot procession that took Her Majesty’s coffin from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall, where she now lay in state until the morning of her funeral on Monday, September 9.
Inside the hall, Sophie and Meghan joined Queen Consort Camilla and Catherine, Princess of Wales near the front door where the Queen’s coffin was about to pass through, accompanied by their husbands.
Royal writer Rebecca English said that at first, there was a “noticeable gap” between Meghan and the working women of the royal family – Camilla, Sophie and Kate.
“Meghan looked decidedly self-conscious,” English said.
“Shoulders back, clutching her program and bag, she was the most stylish and striking of them all.
“But there was something self-consciously awkward about her posture, demonstrating the depth of the rift between herself and the rest of the royal family, even if you happened upon them without any prior knowledge of the acrimony of the past four years.
“Indeed Meghan, who was holding black leather gloves, seemed so lost for something to do that at one point she rested her left hand in her pocket.”
But then Sophie, 57, broke the ice – leaning closer to Meghan, 41, so they could have a brief chat.
English said that after that moment, Meghan looked visibly more relaxed and at ease.
Prior to the departure of Prince Harry and Meghan for life in America, Sophie and Meghan often traveled together to official royal events.
Sophie was the first member of the royal family to visit Harry and Meghan after the birth of their first son, Archie, in 2019.
The Countess of Wessex has been married to Edward, 58, since 1999.
They have two children, Lady Louise Windsor, 18, and James Viscount Severn, 14.
Sophie is regarded as something of a peacemaker within the royal family, and that may come in handy as she takes on more duties in the wake of Queen Elizabeth’s death.
Prior to marrying Prince Edward, Sophie founded a PR firm and was not born into royalty.
She keeps a relatively low profile and is rarely featured in the media, but she once gave a revealing interview to the Sunday Times comparing her experience of marrying into royalty with Meghan’s.
“Remember, I’d had five years to adjust (to royal life),” she said.
“And for our six-month engagement period I was even staying at Buckingham Palace.”
Asked about Harry and Meghan’s departure for the United States, she said: “I just hope they’ll be happy.”
Sophie and Edward spent Thursday in Manchester, viewing tributes to her mother-in-law at St Ann’s Square.
Sophie was visibly emotional, hugging a young mourner and wiping away tears as she looked at floral and written tributes.
The Queen and Sophie shared a strong bond, with the Countess of Wessex referring to the Queen lovingly as “mama.”
“The Queen and the countess had a fantastically warm and joyful relationship,” a source told The Mirror.
“Her Majesty admired Sophie’s quiet sense of duty, her strong work ethic and the way she balanced her public and family lives.
“They also shared many of the same interests.”
It’s understood that Sophie will take on a number of new patronages, including The Women’s Institute and the Dogs Trust.
She is already patron of more than 70 charities including Childline and Blind Veterans UK.
“The Queen’s decision to pass on these patronages (to Sophie) reflects the closeness of their bond,” the source said.
“Sophie’s growing popularity with the public is also evident and she will take on a larger public profile in a new-look monarchy of King Charles.”