Prince Edward and Sophie, the Duchess of Wessex.

Prince Edward and Sophie, the Duchess of Wessex.Frankie Foughanthin / CC

Sophie, Countess of Wessex, the wife of Prince Edward, Queen Elizabeth II's youngest son, is the patron of over 70 charities and an active working member of the Royal family. 

A full-time working member of the Royal Family, The Countess of Wessex splits her time between her work in support of The Queen and visits to a large number of her own charities and organisations. She has a wide range of interests which include supporting people with disabilities, the prevention of blindness in developing countries, agriculture and fashion.

Much of the day-to-day working life of The Countess of Wessex is taken up with her roles as Patron of over 70 charities and organisations. Each year, Her Royal Highness undertakes hundreds of visits to schools, universities, military bases and charity headquarters in order to learn more about their work and to highlight it to the wider world.

Young people and children

The Countess of Wessex has a strong personal interest in the provisions for people with disabilities and embracing opportunities for young people, championing both local initiatives such as Disability Initiative in Surrey as well as national charities such as the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).

The Earl and Countess of Wessex established their foundation The Wessex Youth Trust in 1999 with a focus to help, support and advance registered charities which provide opportunities specifically for children and young people.

The Earl and Countess of Wessex founded The Wessex Youth Trust Shortly before their marriage in 1999. It offered grants and support to charities helping young people. The Trust benefited a broad cross-section of youth-oriented causes, including hospitals and hospices, child protection and drug-prevention schemes, inner-city drop-in centres, sex education initiatives, special educational needs libraries, sports facilities and arts groups. The Wessex Youth Trust distributed over £2.5 million to over 180 causes during its two successful decades.

In support of The Earl of Wessex, Her Royal Highness is also involved with The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and chairs the Women in Business Group which works to promote the Award.

Agriculture

In recent years, The Countess of Wessex has become involved in the world of agriculture and held the position of Show President of the Royal Bath and West Show in 2010 before becoming Vice Patron in 2011. Her Royal Highness is also Patron of the Association of Show and Agricultural Organisations (ASAO) and has been Patron of The Border Union Agricultural Society for its bicentennial year 2013.

The Countess also works to support the ‘Campaign for Wool’ which was set up by The Prince of Wales and aims to promote the use of British wool.

Avoidable blindness

The Countess is passionate about eradicating avoidable blindness and, as Patron of Vision 2020: The Right to Sight and Global Ambassador for the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, has seen first-hand the difference organisations with the right knowledge, experience and funding can make on a global scale.

The Countess has been a Global Ambassador for the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) since 2003.

In 2013, this role took Her Royal Highness to the Orbis flying hospital programme in India and Qatar where she saw first-hand the many global issues around preventable blindness. Following The Countess' visit to India and Qatar, Her Royal Highness wrote an article for The Telegraph to coincide with World Sight Day.

In India, Bangladesh and Nepal the sight-saving organisations are focusing on Childhood blindness. In Sudan, Pakistan and Egypt the organisations are focusing on the Trachoma Elimination Programme.

London College of Fashion

In 2013 The Countess became the first-ever Patron of London College of Fashion, part of the University of the Arts London. Throughout the patronage, The Countess will continue to champion the College's commitment to 'Better Lives' where fashion is used to drive change, build a sustainable future and improve wellbeing.

One of the key areas of work within 'Better Lives' is the 'Fashion Education in Prison Project' – through which LCF works in partnership with HM Prison Service on projects working towards the rehabilitation of women offenders. The aim is to equip women with skills they can further develop during their time in prison and then use, upon release, to aid employment or education opportunities. The first of these is at HMP Holloway, which was visited by Her Royal Highness in June 2014.

Here's a full documentary on Sophie, the Duchess of Wessex, and how she became an integral part of the Royal Family: