KATE Middleton and Sophie Wessex have a “naughty, fun and cheeky” friendship, according to a body language expert.
The Duchess of Cambridge, 39, and Sophie, 56, who both married into royalty, are said to have an unlikely “unbreakable” bond, and are regularly seen having fun together at events.
From Trooping the Colour and Royal Ascot, Kate and Sophie, who is married to Prince Edward, are often pictured in each other’s company in fits of laughter.
When the pair watched the rowing action during the London 2012 Paralympic Games, body language expert Judi James observed: “Kate’s eye-connect from under her hood suggests she is prompting Sophie’s response here and Sophie’s laugh involves a thrown-back head, closed eyes, open mouth and neck-baring that show she is really tickled by what she is hearing or seeing.
“Kate looks delighted to have made Sophie laugh like this and the slight nose-wrinkling suggests she thinks she is being rather naughty here.”
One of their funniest photos occurred when Sophie – mum to Lady Louise, 17, and James, Viscount Severn, 13 – fell into Kate in a rather ‘un-royal’ fashion as she entered her carriage at Royal Ascot in 2017.
Judi said of the encounter: “This iconic shot of the two women will forever describe the sense of fun between them that they also manage to combine with a regal elegance.
“As Sophie leans across to greet-kiss Kate on the cheek the carriage moves, pitching her towards Kate.
“Kate is clearly alert to the fact that Sophie might tumble onto her here but her reaction is comical as she places one restraining hand on Sophie’s shoulder.
“The two women meet face-to-face here and Kate’s raised brows and eyes widened in mock shock produce a matching, open-mouthed response from Sophie, showing those strong bonds of shared fun that clearly seem to exist when the two women aren’t out in public.”
Sophie was on hand to help Kate feel relaxed during the rather tense-looking service at Westminster Abbey before Prince Harry and Meghan Markle stepped back as senior royals.
Judi said of Sophie speaking to Kate in the venue: “This pose defines Sophie’s role as mentor, support and ‘buffer’ in her relationship with Kate.
“It was one of the most awkward moments for both Kate and William, following all the fall-out of the rift between William and his brother Harry.
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“Harry was set to leave for his new life in the US and the eyes of the world were on the very frosty-looking arrival of William and Kate in the abbey.”
Sophie clearly knows how to make Kate openly laugh, even during
In one shot of the pair giggling on a balcony at Wimbledon, Judi observed: "All the signals of relaxation and shared laughter here at the tennis suggest strong bonds of friendship and enjoyment of each other’s company.
"Kate still sustains a slightly more formal look here but a hugely relaxed-looking Sophie sports the kind of grin that suggests she is enjoying making her laugh out loud."
Sophie, the unassuming daughter of a tyre company executive, is now also extremely close to the Queen, as well as Kate, and has become a pivotal figure in the sovereign’s close circle.
Or as one courtier puts it: “If you’re asking who is HM’s favourite child, it’s none of them – it’s actually her daughter-in-law.”
Her Majesty even "earmarked" Sophie as a royal mentor for Meghan Markle when she joined The Firm, according to royal biographer Katie Nicholl.
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Sophie began a career in public relations, working for a variety of firms, including Capital Radio as well as public relations companies The Quentin Bell Organisation and MacLaurin Communications & Media.
The Countess met Prince Edward while working at Capital Radio for the first time in 1987.
Prince Edward and Sophie were married on June 19, 1999, at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle – the same location Prince Harry and Meghan chose.
Royal expert Penny Junor said: “After all those years of having Philip by her side, both as a loving husband and a supportive consort, no-one will ever fill the void in the Queen’s life left by him.
“But she has the love of a nation and her own family to support her through the coming months.
“And she knows she can always rely on Sophie and Kate.”
SOPHIE AND PRINCE EDWARD’S ROYAL ROMANCE
When Sophie met Edward in 1987 she was a PR for Capital Radio, but it was six years before they started dating.
They then began a romance in earnest, but went to great lengths to avoid photographers, especially when Sophie began staying overnight at Edward’s three-room apartment in Buckingham Palace. When calling Sophie at her office, the Prince would use the name Richard — not that he fooled her colleagues for long.
Six years after they started going out, Edward proposed, with a £105,000 ring from Crown jewellers Garrard.
Starting a family was not straightforward. In 2001 Sophie suffered an ectopic pregnancy.
In 2003, the birth of daughter Louise was similarly dramatic. The baby was a month premature and Sophie lost nine pints of blood, had a caesarean and was in hospital for 15 days. In 2007 she had another caesarean giving birth to son James.
Last summer, during the break before the second lockdown, Edward, Sophie and their children, now 17 and 13, were among the first to stay with the Queen and Philip at Balmoral, and the last to leave.
This is how the Queen’s ‘favourite’ Sophie Wessex became her ‘rock’ after Phil’s death, phoning daily & ensuring she’s looked after.
And Sophie opened up about her ‘tricky’ menopause which felt like ‘a shackle’ as she calls for better education around periods.
Meanwhile, Kate beamed as she met Afghanistan evacuation teams in return to Royal duties after summer break.
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