British Royal Family

Sophie of Wessex has silently taken a big step up in the royal family - and her latest outing proves it

We've been seeing a lot more of the Countess of Wessex, and it's not a coincidence.

By Jess Pullar
If you think you've been seeing an awful lot more of Sophie, Countess of Wessex lately, you wouldn't be wrong.
The British royal, who is married to the Queen's youngest son Prince Edward, has fast become one of the regal family's most familiar faces amidst the COVID-19 lockdown, with her various video calls, volunteer forays and public engagements capturing the curiosity of ourselves, and many others.
As it turns out - it appears that this is no mistake.
The Countess has certainly upped the ante in 2020, starting the year with a glamorous Buckingham Palace event alongside Duchess Catherine for a soiree marking the beginning of the UK-Africa Investment Summit.
Taking place shortly after Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan announced their decision to step back as senior royal family members, the two women, who attended alongside their husbands were the image of serene stability within the royal fold.
Sophie's chic red shell-sleeved number complimented fashion-icon Kate's red sparkly frock to perfection - the first small signal of the year to suggest the Countess was stepping up.
Little did we know that there was a lot more to come in that department.
Duchess Catherine and Countess Sophie were the image of regal stability at a Buckingham Palace soiree. (Getty)
Of course, we all know the crux of what came next - COVID-19 threw the world into various states of chaos in March as lockdowns were enacted and the workforce beginning a new normal of working from home.
A reflection of their unflappable nature, the royals adapted as seamlessly as the rest of us - we began to see a new side of The Firm as a world of video calls replaced public engagements, and connectivity with their patronages and fanbase was approached in other, unique ways.
For Sophie, she took it all in her stride.
The mum-of-two kicked off lockdown with a special video made in support of parents who were homeschooling their children.
The 55-year-old spoke of the period of uncertainty, telling fellow parents: "Please don't feel alone. Make use of the resources out there and the fantastic digital communities that are sharing them and supporting them. Stay safe and thinking of you all."
Watch the message in the player below:
Then came a series of video calls, some of which were joined by Duchess Catherine in support of various causes and initiatives helping those in need amidst the health pandemic.
There was a special virtual meeting with nurses across the world, a candid addition to Duchess Catherine's Hold Still photography project, and countless acts of support behind the scenes, including socially distanced volunteering as she helped pack food parcels for the needy - in secret.
Sophie and Prince Edward were pictured helping to delver food amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. (Instagram)
As the world began to come out of the other side of that initial lockdown phase spanning March to June, Sophie began appearing in-person once again for special events.
There was her emotional, yet uplifting visit to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, where she sat in on their call centre and took some calls herself.
And then she made a surprise visit to a local op shop where she worked on the floor for a day, helping to organise clothing and steaming on-floor stock.
Sophie got stuck in helping out a local Op Shop as the UK began to come out of lockdown. (Instagram)
Sophie has been working hard behind the scenes as one of the royal family's low-key guns for many years, but in the wake of Harry and Meghan's departure, it was only natural for royal watchers to flock to see how that void would be filled.
The formidable, unflappable and ever-poised Sophie was well and truly up for the challenge.
A challenge that's clearly been met and exceeded as her latest engagement reflected.
For the first time ever, the Countess' scheduled solo appearance (at a local pub, no less) featured a specially invited pool of royal correspondents - something the selected journalists had never before been invited to do.
Sophie of Wessex's latest visit to a local pub was covered by invited royal correspondents - a first for any of the royal's solo engagements. (Getty)
Royal editor Chris Ship spoke to ITV's Royal Rota of the progression.
"We don't often cover the Countess of Wessex's engagements on her own," he explained.
"It's the only time I've covered Sophie on her own in the three years I've had this job."
He explained that he and other royal correspondents were invited to attend the event, telling producer Lizzie Robinson: "Are we to presume then that Buckingham Palace think Sophie's profile is worth raising now?"
Sophie's hard work is clearly paying off like never before. (Getty)
Indeed it seems there's no denying the Countess has stepped things up a notch, particularly as the Palace appears to place more emphasis on her work of late.
But perhaps most refreshing of all is that despite an increasing public profile, the Countess remains as modest as ever.
Speaking to the Sunday Times in June, she said: "People may pay more attention to what I am doing, but I remain as busy as I have ever been."
Spoken like a true hardworking royal.

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