THEY’RE part of the most famous family in the world, but everyday life for the Wessexes is surprisingly normal.
King Charles III’s youngest brother Prince Edward, 58, and his wife Sophie, 57, live largely out of the spotlight with their two children Lady Louise Windsor, 18 and James Viscount Severn, 14.
The family live at Bagshot Park near Windsor and are a picture of domestic bliss compared to other royals – with Edward the only one of the late Queen’s children not to get divorced.
Unlike the prince, Sophie comes from a humble beginning. The daughter of a tyre salesman and a secretary, she was working in PR at Capital Radio when they met in 1987.
Edward was dating her friend at the time, but six years later they got together after a charity event.
Sophie continued to work for a few years after they got married before finally becoming a full-time royal in 2002, but clearly believes in instilling a strong work ethic in their kids, with Lady Louise doing shifts at a local garden centre.
Here we take a look at how the family are striving to enjoy as down-to-earth a life as possible.
Edward and Sophie married on June 19, 1999 at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.
It was a far more low-key affair than the weddings of Edward’s older siblings, which were large, formal events at Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral.
And instead of jetting off on a luxury honeymoon abroad, the couple spent it at Balmoral in Scotland.
In 2001, Sophie suffered an ectopic pregnancy and sadly lost the baby.
The couple broke boundaries by opening up to the public about the difficult time, with Prince Edward telling reporters outside the hospital: “It’s a pretty traumatic experience… It’s quite the most painful thing that anyone can undergo.”
Sophie was later made patron of the air ambulance charity that saved her life.
Their daughter Louise was born in 2003 by emergency caesarean after Sophie suffered a sudden placental abruption.
She was the first royal to give birth in a relatively low key general hospital – Frimley Park in Surrey.
James was born in 2007, again by C-section.
No royal titles
Edward and Sophie decided not to use the HRH titles their children are entitled to – instead styling them as children of an Earl.
Sophie told the Sunday Times Magazine in 2020: “We try to bring them up with the understanding they are very likely to have to work for a living.
“Hence we made the decision not to use HRH titles. They have them and can decide to use them from 18, but I think that’s highly unlikely.”
Sleepovers and dog walks
Louise is off to St Andrews university this year – where Prince William met Kate Middleton – while her brother attends Eagle House School in Berkshire.
The couple have always done the school run themselves and their children enjoy normal activities like sleepovers with friends, dog walks and barbecues.
Sophie previously said: “What’s normal? They go to regular school. They go to friends for sleepovers and parties.
“At weekends, we do a lot of dog-walking and stay with friends.
“I guess not everyone’s grandparents live in a castle, but where you are going is not the important part, or who they are. When they are with the Queen, she is their grandmother.”
She added that Edward is a “very engaged father” and they share parenting duties.
They have always holidayed at Balmoral with the Queen, with Sophie thought to have been her favourite daughter-in-law.
A royal source told The Sun that James loves getting involved in family barbecues and is “rather good at flipping burgers”.
Sophie previously said she has never used a stylist and struggles with the idea of fashion being part of her job.
She told the Sunday Express in 2015: “I sort of wrestled with that one for a while and slightly caved in at the end of the day.”
Talking about her personal style, she said: “I know what I like and what I don’t like, but I’ve never had a stylist.”
Rather than an army of hairdressers, Sophie has perfected a simple ‘up do’ that take seconds, where she fastens her hair to the back of her head in one fell swoop according to celebrity stylist Tom Smith.
Royal expert Ingrid Seward told The Sun that Sophie used to shop at Laura B but doesn’t anymore.
She said that Laura B once told her: “[Sophie] is quite difficult to dress, because she has no idea of proportions.
“If you look at her as a whole, sometimes it looks a bit wrong but if you look at her face it always looks lovely.”
The family aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty.
In 2020 the clan joined volunteer litter-pickers on a beach in Portsmouth and spent an hour and a half picking up rubbish.
Sophie, who hoped to encourage others to do the same, warned of a rise in single-use plastic and the lack of advice on how to safely dispose of PPE and face masks.
£6.83 an hour summer job
Over the summer, Louise worked a near-minimum wage job at a garden centre, earning £6.83 an hour.
Her duties involved helping on the tills, greeting customers and pruning and potting plants.
A shopper, who was served by the royal, told The Sun: “I couldn’t believe it was Lady Louise – I had to look twice.
“She is a really modest and sweet young woman who is polite and attentive to customers. She seemed to be loving the job.”
Another customer added: “The staff seemed to adore her. It’s not every day you buy your begonias off a royal.”
Sophie devotes much of her time to organisations she has a personal connection to – including sight charities.
Louise was born with an eye condition called esotropia, which turns the eyes outwards.
She underwent an operation to correct it in 2006, which was unsuccessful, but further treatment in late 2013 worked.
Sophie previously told the Sunday Express: “Premature babies can often have squints because the eyes are the last thing in the baby package to really be finalised.
“Her squint was quite profound when she was tiny and it takes time to correct it… she’s fine now – her eyesight is perfect.”
Sophie is patron of the Vision Foundation and global ambassador for the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, but has also visited blindness charity Orbis UK and homes for disabled kids.