The first month of every New Year brings many inevitabilities with it – cold nights, lower than hoped for bank balances and guilt trips when dry January turns out, like the weather, to be slightly wetter than anticipated. But in recent years it’s also brought a brighter sight as the month passes its midway point. For January 20th is the birthday of the Countess of Wessex and, invariably, Sophie spends the day on royal duty.
It’s rare not to see the countess out and about as she blows out another candle on the cake. And her determination to pop an engagement into the diary on her special day pretty much sums Sophie up to perfection. For the duties she carries out are never the showiest and her public appearances are never the most covered or talked about. But regardless of that, Sophie just gets on with the job at hand and appears to be having quite a lot of fun while she’s about it.
It’s turned her into one of the most popular members of the Royal Family. Take a trawl through Twitter (put your hard hat on first, it’s bumpy there right now) and you’ll find plenty of messages lauding the countess and lamenting that we just don’t hear enough about her, even from the official social media accounts run by the Windsors. Sophie seems to win fans wherever she goes. She has a long list of patronages that are close to her heart and she puts in the hours to prove it, often heading out to farms and agricultural shows as part of her work to support rural industries or spending time at hospitals and clinics to hear about developments in eyecare, another of her favourite causes.
The Countess of Wessex doesn’t shy away from a challenge. Whether it’s cycling her way through Scotland and England in support of the Duke of Edinburgh Award (another cause to which she is deeply committed) or travelling around the UK to lend her support to children’s charities, Sophie’s schedule is consistent and filled with days that add a depth to royal work.
It’s no wonder that’s won her fans inside and outside Palace doors. She clearly has a close and strong relationship with the Queen while her commitment to raising her children away from the spotlight but with an idea of what their royal links mean has become something of a template – in recent months, we’ve seen her take her daughter, Lady Louise, on low key engagements while maintaining the privacy so dear to regal parents everywhere.
Yes, it’s true, Sophie has it a bit easier than the most high profile royals. That lack of intense spotlight brings its benefits – she’s far less likely to be snapped heading out to the shops or on her way back from the gym than some of the more famous Windsors. But she remains a public figure and one that is constantly representing her Royal Family to a wide audience.
In fact, almost as soon as her birthday celebrations are done she’ll be getting ready to head to Sierra Leone for a two day visit at the request of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. On the big day itself, we’ll see her at the UK Africa Summit reception being hosted at Buckingham Palace by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
No doubt she’ll be smiling, charming and winning more fans. Right now, she really is one of the best assets that the Royal Family has. That’s why, on her 55th birthday (can you believe she’s really that age at all?), it feels right to celebrate Sophie, the quiet star bringing plenty of sparkle to the House of Windsor.