A low-key royal couple. Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex had a traditional royal wedding in 1999, but the early days of their romance were decidedly less formal.
Queen Elizabeth II‘s youngest son first met his future bride in 1987 when she was working as a press officer at Capital Radio. At the time, the Earl of Wessex was dating Sophie’s friend, but when the duo reconnected in 1993, they were both single.
After dating for six years, Edward popped the question in December 1998 while the pair were on vacation in the Bahamas. When they publicly announced their engagement the following month, Sophie had a simple explanation for why the two hit it off. “I think we share a number of interests, we laugh a lot and we have a great friendship,” she explained in an interview.
Edward, for his part, added: “We are the very best of friends and that’s essential, but it also helps that we also love each other very much.”
The University of Cambridge graduate and the former publicist tied the knot in June 1999 at St George’s Chapel, which would later host the nuptials of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle as well as Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank. For the event, Sophie was given the queen’s “Anthemion” tiara, which some observers believe was constructed from elements originally used in Queen Victoria’s Regal Circlet.
Three years after the wedding, Sophie — who was raised in an upper middle-class family in Kent, England — ceased working in public relations and became a full-time working royal. She has since become a patron of numerous charities, including her and Edward’s foundation, The Earl and Countess of Wessex Trust, which they established in 1999.
Sophie also became close with the queen and her husband, Prince Philip, over the years, and has praised the late Duke of Edinburgh for being so supportive throughout his 73-year marriage to Elizabeth.
“He’s always there for her,” Sophie said during a 2016 interview with ITV. “I think it must be a fairly lonely place being the queen. As a female in the top job, it’s important I think to have somebody that you can lean on, that you can discuss things with, that she can be open and honest with behind closed doors. For her to have found somebody like him, I don’t think she could have chosen better. And they make each other laugh, which I think is a half of a battle, isn’t it?’”
When Philip died at age 99 in April 2021, his daughter-in-law opened up about how much the royal family missed their patriarch. “He’s left a giant-sized hole in our lives,” she said during a June 2021 appearance on BBC Radio 5 Live. “It’s only when you would do the normal things that you would have done with them and you suddenly realize that they are not there, that you really start to have a, ‘Oh, my goodness’ moment.”
Keep scrolling for a look back at Edward and Sophie’s complete relationship timeline.