The royals' greatest asset WHY SOPHIE'S THE ONE TO WATCH
New Zealand Woman's Weekly|November 1 2021
The down-to-earth countess was speaking out about the plight of vulnerable girls and women’s rights long before Meghan came along
Judy Kean

It’s no secret that of all her family members, the Queen is probably fondest of her daughter-in-law Sophie, Countess of Wessex.

Over the years, the pair have become incredibly close, spending many hours in each other’s company. But what hasn’t always been recognised is that Sophie’s more than just Her Majesty’s confidante – she’s emerging as one of the family’s leading campaigners, unafraid to speak out about topics normally considered off-limits for royals.

With the encouragement of her mother-in-law, Prince Edward’s wife is not only stepping up to help cover the gaps left following the departure of Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, but she’s been addressing subjects like menopause and sexual violence.

Sophie first spoke out about sexual violence in 2019 when she gave a speech at Buckingham Palace as part of International Women’s Day. She pledged to do all she could to help women who have suffered, particularly those who have been raped as an act of war.

As well as speaking out on the subject at every opportunity, Sophie has visited countries like Lebanon, Kenya, Kosovo, Sierra Leone and South Sudan to encourage action to stop attacks on women. She has had emotional meetings with survivors of sexual violence and heard their harrowing stories first-hand.

These encounters have had a huge impact on her and while helping women in war-torn countries has become important to the mum-of-two, she says it is also vital to have conversations about sexual abuse that women can encounter in any situation, not just conflict.

“The more confident girls and young women are to talk about these things, and to call out any kind of behaviour they’re not happy with, hopefully that might give them more confidence. The more people come forward, the more momentum it will hold.”

Sophie, 56, has discussed the subject with her daughter Lady Louise, 17. “She’s quite aware of the work I do with women and also the conflict-related sexual violence pieces as well. We chat about it quite a lot, particularly if I have been on a trip somewhere – she wants to know what I have been doing.

“With my son James, he’s 13 going on 14, and it’s slightly harder to have the conversation about my work. But he’s quite conscious of this whole issue of inappropriate behaviour between girls and boys.”

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