When Eddy Met Sophie
Sophie was not even supposed to be the one getting her picture taken with Prince Edward on the particular photocall she ended up at. Instead, sports presenter Sue Barker, was. Sophie's boss, Brian McLaurin, came up with the whole photocall idea in an effort to get some interest in the Prince Edward Summer Challenge, whihc was linked to the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme.
In the beginning, Edward wasn't even going to partake in the challenge, but Brian convinced him they'd get more money for charity if he did. Contestants could chose any challenge they wanted. Edward's was to play real tennis without stopping for as long as he possibly could.
Sue Barker was asked to come spice up the photocall to promote Edward's challenge.
However, as many peopl have discovered before, very few things ever go as planned. An hour before the photocall, Brian got a call from Sue's boss, who told him no way could Sue do the shoot. After briefly thinking perhaps Edward on his own would be okay, Brian decided to take one of his own staff along. He chose Sophie.
Sophie's very first meeting with Edward was strictly business. A job, not a date. And Edward, who liked what he saw even from the first look he got at her, was delighted to pose with her. Even at that first meeting, they were natural and relaxed with each other, with both of them grinning from ear to ear.
At this stage, even after it was all over, their relationship was business-related. No question whatsoever of anything more happening.
On the day of the challenge, 13 September 1993, photographers came to try to get a shot of Edward with the girl they thought was his girlfriend, Ruthie Henshall, not knowing that Edward and Ruthie were no longer together and they must have felt pretty stupid when they realized that they should have been trying to get pictures of Sophie.
Towards the end of September, after everything involving the challenge had been completed, Edward, out of the blue, called Sophie at home. She had given him her private number, in case of problems with the challenge and Brian couldn't be reached. After talking a bit about the challenge, Edward asked Sophie to join him for a game of real tennis and maybe a bite of supper at the Palace afterwards.
Hello First Date!
And no, I'm not going to go into details here. It's all in the book.
But it was on this date, a couple of months after they met, that Edward told Sophie to call him Edward and no Sir. And they also discovered how much they had in common during this date, because they talked for hours. And did Edward kiss Sophie good-night as she left? Yep. On the cheek.
Pretty good start to what has turned into a durable and long-lasting relationship. And if you consider that they weren't supposed to even meet in the first place...
Fate works in mysterious ways.
A Fairy Tale With A Twist
The twist is, of course, the fact that Sophie, unlike Diana, Princess of Wales before her, is being gradually assimilated into Royal life, instead of being thrown in head first without a life raft in sight. Was this Sophie's doings? Nope. It's Edward's.
Didn't I tell you the man took total control over his life a page or so back? Well, he did. And he's doing things his way, and no one else has any control over it, not his parents, not the public and certainly not the press. Do they like it? Probably not. But one thing I know for sure is, Edward's doing the right thing.
Edward is a very private man, we all know that. He shares his mother's determination to keep family stuff private. And I, for one, can't blame him for that. The Press soon discovered, that if Edward went public with a girlfriend, it was nothing real serious. But if he tried his hardest to keep it under wraps, it was important. And the latter is just what he did with Sophie.
And Edward, who had often been "in lust" before, was indeed very serious about Miss Rhys-Jones. Very serious indeed.
He called her all the time, at work and in the evenings. When he called, he would always say either 'Richard' or 'Gus' was calling. I'm not sure what Sophie calls Edward, she probably just uses 'Edward' for the most part, but Edward, it seems, shortens Sophie's name to 'Soph'. Obvious that they're very comfortable with each other.
How in the world could it be possible that they're suited for each other? You may well wonder. Perhaps what they say about opposites attracting can be true in some cases. But maybe they're really not so opposite as you'd think. I can't describe it, since I don't know either one of them, but a close friend of Sophie's did a pretty good job of it.
"Sophie is good fun, a laugh, attractive and the sort of girl that most men would enjoy chatting with into the night. Edward is serious, quiet, and as is probably the case with most Royals, somewhat arrogant and overbearing. You wouldn't have thought they were at all suited. But when Edward is with Sophie, he becomes good fun too. It's extraordinary the effect she has on him." (Gibbs & Smith, p 172).
The big thing Sophie had to get used to was the fact that her dates with Edward always consisted of three people, not just two. Edward's detective, Steve, had to go everywhere with them. This had to be hard to deal with, but Sophie took it all in stride and probably got used to it sooner than she would have thought.
In the early part of their relationship they played real tennis and went to the theater and the cinema. Sometimes this was probably hard too, since Edward was so wary of the press, they often had to stumble to their seats in the dark after the lights had gone down.
They also spent a lot of time sharing cosy suppers. They enjoyed cooking together and often they would give Edward's valet the night off and cook up something themselves. They spent most of these nights at Buckingham Palace, instead of Sophie's Vereker Road flat, because Edward was to conscious of the risk of being seen to spend an evening there.
Six weeks after they started dating, they were separated when Edward had to go to Swaziland for the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme. You can bet that 'Gus' would have been calling his sweetheart 24/7 if he could have, and as it was they generally kept the lines from rusting.
Shortly after that, Sophie met the Queen for the first time, when Edward invited her to Windsor for a weekend. The only thing was, Edward didn't tell her the Queen and many other family members would be there. Sophie sat silent throughout the lunch she had with them although privately Sophie was probably wishing she could hit Edward for not telling her. Of course that's probably not true, but if I had been her, I would have wished it!
From then on, weekends at Windsor have become commonplace for Sophie. She often spends the weekends there with Edward and the Royal Family and decidedly loves it.
It certainly didn't take long for the press to find out about the romance. Sophie was confronted by Andrew Morton at the office and followed to Hampton Court, where she was meeting Edward, by paparazzi on motorcycles. Within a very short time their relationship had gone from private courtship to public domain. And Edward was not in the least happy about it. A couple of days after Andrew Morton bombarded Sophie in her office, it was in the Sunday papers. The story was half true and half false, like all stories on the Royals, but it gave people something to talk about anyway.
As usual, if you want the whole story, buy the book. I'm trying to be as brief as I can here...and I'm not really succeeding.
In spite of all the Diana and Fergie stories, there was a huge interest in Edward's new girlfriend, as Sophie soon found out. Sophie's boss Brian MacLaurin, helped them out by talking to the press and asking that they be left alone. But, of course, the Press, not knowing when to give up, as usual, wouldn't leave them, and especially Sophie, alone, and she had to learn to deal with it. But privately she was relieved. She no longer had to keep the relationship secret from everyone. That had to be a great load off her mind.
Naturally, Sophie wasn't the only one who had some adjusting to do. Her parents, while naturally proud of their daughter, were worried about her future, especially with the Press around her so much. When they met Edward, they found him to be very easy to get along with. The big problem with being the parents of a serious Royal girlfriend is the fact that no one tells you anything. That was nothing, though, because they were almost as excited as Sophie was and joked merrily about it.
Sophie spent that New Years weekend, and saw in 1994, at Sandringham with the Royal Family and their guests. It was quite the relief after the previous months of Press intrusion and speculation about their relationship, which was by far the most serious of Edward's life. He wanted it to last. By this time Edward had two problems: he wanted to show Sophie the strength of his feelings and to reassure her that they could stand firm against public scrutiny. The other one was that he didn't want anyone to know. So how did they rectify the problem? On this particular New Year's Eve, they had a wonderful time and came to an 'understanding' that they were unofficial engaged. This decision has the complete sympathy and understanding of the Queen, who went through much of the same thing in 1946, when she was unofficially engaged to Prince Philip. The Queen was supportive of any arrangement they eventually made, but she made it understood that they would eventually marry.
While this has been hard for Sophie, she has enormous powers of discretion and knows when to keep her mouth shut. This is definitely coming in handy with this relationship. She adapted to the new Royal lifestyle easily, perhaps even more easily than she thought she would. Who knows?
In the romance side of things, Sophie has found that Edward can be incredibly thoughtful one minute and totally thoughtless the next. But she knows it's not on purpose. Like many men, he just does not think. For details, proof, etc, buy the book. It's in there. Go see. I don't want to tell you how he can be like that.
There are four more chapters in that book that sum it all up, that I could paraphrase and put in here, but you know what? I'm not going to. That's it. But other than that, if you want more details, I will say one more time: Buy the book. It will be much worth your money, I promise. It is the truth, and in world that doesn't often find the truth about the Royals, it's very refreshing.
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