Buckingham Palace have released a new photograph of the Countess of Wessex to mark her upcoming 50th birthday on Tuesday.
The photograph, taken by society photographer Richard Young, is a candid portrait of the Countess which was especially commissioned for the occasion. An original colour photo was released along with an augmented black and white version of the portrait.
The Earl and Countess of Wessex will perform two public engagements on the Countess’s birthday on Tuesday including a visit in support of Tomorrow’s People – of which the Countess if patron – a charity concerned with employment which works in local communities to help underprivileged adults and young people find jobs.
Edward and Sophie will then make a visit to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to watch presentations of the Avoidable Blindness Programme there supported by The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust. During the visit the Countess of Wessex will be officially welcomed as the new Vice-Patron of the Jubilee Trust.
One of the Countess’s charities is Vision 2020: the right to sight, of which she is patron. Along with this patronage, she is also Global Ambassador for the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness – both of which are organisations committee to eradicating avoidable blindness. As part of her involvement with these two charities, the Countess has been able to witness the organisations at work as they demonstrate that the correct knowledge and funding can make a real impact and difference on the fight against avoidable blindness.
Today’s photo is the second of two that have been especially produced ahead of the Countess of Wessex’s 50th. Back in December, Sophie gave a rare interview to Harper’s Bazaar in which she talked about her life and also her relationship with The Queen. As part of this, a special photo of the Countess was released alongside the published interview.
Early next month both the Earl and Countess of Wessex will make a visit to Finland. During their brief visit from 2nd to 6th February, the royal couple will attend several official functions including a dinner with the British Ambassador and a Gold Award ceremony for the Duke of Edinburgh’s award in Helsinki.
Last year, the Earl and Countess carried out of 733 engagements across the UK and overseas, an increase of 160 on the previous year.
Sophie’s husband, Prince Edward, remains the only one of The Queen’s children never to have divorced. However, the couple aren’t the longest-married of The Queen’s children with Princess Anne and Sir Tim Laurence having been married for over 22 years. The Earl and Countess of Wessex celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary last year.
Prince Edward is also the only one of The Queen’s sons not to hold a dukedom. It was decided at the time of his wedding to Sophie in 1999 that he would be given an Earldom, with the promise that he would one day be made Duke of Edinburgh in order that and his wife could carry on the work of the Duke of Edinburgh’s award scheme. The title can only be granted to Edward after Prince Philip and The Queen have died.
The couple’s children also hold different titles. Despite being entitled under the 1917 letters patent to be called princes and princesses, the couple took the decision to have them styled as the children of an Earl (giving Louise the title of Lady and James that of Lord Severn).
Prince Edward, the youngest of The Queen’s children, turned 50 last year – an official family photograph was released then to mark the occasion.
photo credit: Royal Household/Richard Young