YOU’RE part of the most famous family in the world, but everyday life for the Wessexes is surprisingly normal.
King Charles III’s youngest brother Prince Edward, 58, and his wife Sophie, 57, live largely away from the limelight with their two children, Lady Louise Windsor, 18, and James Viscount Severn, 14.
The family live in Bagshot Park, near Windsor, and are a picture of domestic bliss compared to other royals – with Edward being the only one of the late Queen’s children not to divorce.
Unlike the prince, Sophie comes from a humble background. The daughter of a tire salesman and a secretary, she was working in PR at Capital Radio when they met in 1987.
Edward was dating her friend at the time, but they got together six years later after a charity event.
Sophie continued to work after her marriage for a few more years before finally becoming full-time Queen in 2002, but clearly believes in instilling a strong work ethic in her children, with Lady Louise working shifts at a local garden centre.
Here we take a look at how the family strives to live as down-to-earth as possible.
Edward and Sophie were married on 19 June 1999 at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.
It was a much more low-key affair than the weddings of Edward’s older siblings, which were large, formal events at Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral.
And instead of flying abroad for a luxurious honeymoon, the couple stayed in Balmoral, Scotland.
In 2001, Sophie suffered an ectopic pregnancy and sadly lost the baby.
The couple broke boundaries by opening up to the public about the difficult time, and Prince Edward told reporters outside the hospital: “It’s quite a traumatic experience… It’s pretty much the most painful thing you can go through.”
Sophie was later appointed patron of the Air Ambulance charity, which saved her life.
Their daughter Louise was born via emergency c-section in 2003 after Sophie suffered a sudden abruption of the placenta.
She was the first queen to give birth in a relatively nondescript general hospital – Frimley Park in Surrey.
James was born again in 2007 via caesarean section.
No royal titles
Edward and Sophie have chosen not to use the HRH titles their children are entitled to – instead referring to them as children of an earl.
Sophie told The Sunday Times Magazine in 2020: “We try to raise them with the understanding that they very likely have to work for a living.
“That’s why we made the decision not to use HRH titles. They have them and they can choose to use them over 18, but I think that’s highly unlikely.”
Overnight stays and walks with the dog
Louise is going to St Andrews University this year – where Prince William met Kate Middleton – while her brother is attending Eagle House School in Berkshire.
The couple have always done the school run themselves and their children enjoy normal activities such as sleepovers with friends, walking the dog and having a barbecue.
Sophie previously said: “What is normal? They go to regular school. They go to friends’ houses for sleepovers and parties.
“On weekends we walk the dog a lot and stay with friends.
“I guess not all grandparents live in a castle, but where you go isn’t the important part, or who they are. When you’re with the Queen, she’s your grandmother.”
She added that Edward is a “very dedicated father” and they share parenting responsibilities.
They have always holidayed with the Queen at Balmoral, with Sophie being said to be their favorite daughter-in-law.
A royal source told The Sun that James loves getting involved in family barbecues and is “pretty good at flipping burgers”.
Sophie previously said she’s never hired a stylist and struggles with the idea that fashion is part of her job.
She told the Sunday Express in 2015: “I wrestled with it for a while and by the end of the day I buckled a bit.”
Speaking of her personal style, she said, “I know what I like and don’t like, but I’ve never had a stylist.”
Instead of an army of hairstylists, Sophie has perfected a simple updo that takes seconds and where, according to celebrity stylist Tom Smith, she secures her hair in one swoop at the back of her head.
Royal expert Ingrid Seward told The Sun that Sophie used to shop at Laura B but not anymore.
She said Laura B once told her: “[Sophie] is quite difficult to dress because she has no idea about proportions.
“Sometimes when you look at her as a whole it looks a little fake, but when you look at her face it always looks beautiful.”
The family is not afraid to get their hands dirty.
In 2020, the clan joined volunteer rubbish pickers on a Portsmouth beach and spent an hour and a half picking up rubbish.
Sophie, who hoped to encourage others to do the same, warned of a rise in single-use plastic and the lack of advice on how to dispose of PPE and face masks safely.
£6.83 an hour summer job
During the summer, Louise worked in a garden center at a job that was close to minimum wage, earning £6.83 an hour.
Her duties included helping at the registers, greeting customers, and cutting and planting plants.
A buyer who was served by the King told The Sun: “I couldn’t believe it was Lady Louise – I had to do a double take.
“She is a really humble and sweet young woman who is polite and attentive to customers. She seemed to love the job.”
Another customer added: “The staff seemed to love them. It’s not every day you buy your begonias from a king.”
Sophie devotes much of her time to organizations with which she has a personal connection – including non-profit organizations.
Louise was born with an eye condition called esotropia, which causes the eyes to turn outward.
She underwent surgery to correct it in 2006, which was unsuccessful, but further treatment in late 2013 worked.
Sophie previously told the Sunday Express: “Premature babies can often squint because the eyes are the last thing really finished in the baby pack.
“Her squint was quite severe when she was little and it takes time to correct it… she’s fine now – her eyesight is perfect.”
Sophie is Patron of the Vision Foundation and Global Ambassador for the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, but has also visited Orbis UK, a blindness charity, and homes for disabled children.