With other senior royals now out of the picture, the spotlight is being shone on Sophie, Countess of Wessex.
Prince Edward’s wife, 55, carried out 236 official engagements in 2019 – more than the duchesses of Cambridge, Sussex and Cornwall and more even than Prince William.
Speaking to The Sunday Times, the countess said she was glad she enjoyed a long courtship with the Queen’s son before they wed in 1999.
She said: “I’d had five years to adjust.”
The comment was made while Sophie reflected on how her experience marrying into the Royal Family differed to that of Megan Markle, who dated Prince Harry for two years before they walked down the aisle in 2018 and she became the Duchess of Sussex.
Sophie continued: “For our six-month engagement I was even staying in Buckingham Palace. Not that you necessarily know how it will pan out.”
Sophie’s home of Bagshot Park – where she lives with her husband, 56, their daughter Lady Louise Windsor, 16, and their son James, Viscount Severn, 12 – is 10 miles from the Sussexes’ UK home of Frogmore Cottage.
It has been suggested that the countess has become a confidante to the duchess. Sophie said: “We all try to help any new member of the family.”
At the annual Commonwealth Day service in March, both couples appeared friendly sitting next to each other at Westminster Abbey.
Of the Sussexes’ relocation to the US, the countess said: “I just hope they will be happy.”
The Sunday Times interview highlighted her recent visit to South Sudan as part of her work against campaigning against sexual violence in conflict.
During the past six years, more than 400,000 people there have been killed in the civil war and more than 4 million have fled their homes – and it is an epicentre of war rape.
According to the UN, between January 2018 and January 2020 there were incidents of conflict-related sexual violence involving at least 1,423 victims, including 302 children.
The countess married the monarch’s youngest child – and the only one to never divorce – at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.
She is the daughter of a secretary and a sales director for a tyre company, and was working at Capital Radio when she met her other half.
Earlier this week, Sophie -– who has been volunteering throughout the coronavirus pandemic – submitted a picture of a fellow volunteer for the Duchess of Cambridge’s Hold Still photography project with the National Portrait Gallery.