Sophie Wessex and children arrive at Prince Philip’s funeral
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Lady Louise Windsor, 17, and James, Viscount Severn, 13, are said to be Queen Elizabeth II’s favourite grandchildren. Last summer they were the first royals to visit the Queen, 95, and Prince Philip at Balmoral with their parents Sophie, Countess of Wessex, 56, and Prince Edward, 57, after lockdown restrictions were lifted.
Sophie and Edward live with their children at Bagshot Park in Surrey, just down the road from Windsor Castle and over the years their proximity to the Queen’s royal residence means they have got to spend ample time with both their grandparents.
In their first-ever extensive joint interview, the Earl and Countess of Wessex spoke to the Telegraph about how they and their children were coping in the wake of Philip’s death in April and shed new light on family dynamics including their close bond with the Queen.
Touching on the Wessex family’s grief, Telegraph royal editor Camilla Tominey wrote: “As we chat for an hour at their Grade II listed mansion, before they collect their children Lady Louise Windsor, 17, and James, Viscount Severn, 13, from school, they tell me how they keep expecting to see ‘Grandpa’ arrive in his green Land Rover Freelander.”
Ms Tominey added: “As regular visitors to Windsor Castle, which is just 15 minutes from Bagshot, the Wessexes have spent many weekends whiling away the hours riding through Windsor Great Park under the gimlet eye of its former Ranger.”
Later in the interview, the Countess revealed she and her family often stay on longer than the rest when they visit the Queen at one of her rural royal residences – the concession can be taken as a sign the Wessexes are firm favourites.
Sophie said: “The poor Queen has had to put up with us staying on much longer than anybody else in Scotland and Norfolk.”
Louise was particularly close to her grandfather who taught her to carriage drive – she has found solace in the sport following the Duke’s death and continues his legacy.
Sophie revealed how she and her daughter felt the Duke’s absence during a recent training session.
The Countess told Ms Tominey: “Louise went out training the other day and I was standing there, expecting the Duke to turn up and give her a few tips or just ask her how things were going.”
The Queen is well-known for her love of horses and the outdoors – passions which both Louise and James seem to have inherited.
Touching on how the teenagers coped with lockdown tensions, Sophie said they both sought solace in the outdoors.
The Countess said: “If things were kicking off inside, right from the year dot, I’d say: ‘Right… outside!’ You come back in again and the mood is entirely different.”
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Sophie added: “Louise would take herself off on her bike, and James is very self-motivated to get out, so actually, it was never a struggle.
“There were certainly moments when I think we all felt a bit low.
“But then you have to sit there and go, hang on – look at our wonderful surroundings, we are very, very lucky, and so many other people are not in that situation. Had we been sitting in an apartment, you know in a tenement block… My heart goes out to people in that situation.”
Explaining the Queen’s soft spot for Louise and James, a royal source previously told the Sun: “The Queen loves the fact that Louise and James relish their time at Balmoral, and she has become particularly close to Louise, who seems to have become her favourite grandchild, closely followed by James.”
They added: “Louise also endeared herself to everyone by looking after William and Kate’s children when they were up here.
“Louise loves drawing and sketching and was very patiently trying to get Charlotte to do pictures of rabbits and deer.”
The insider added: “Because of her obvious artistic skill, the Queen allowed Louise to look through some of the collection of Queen Victoria’s Highlands sketches which are kept at Balmoral but are rarely dug out these days.”
Sophie and Edward decided to raise their children without their HRH styles and Prince and Princess titles.
Louise and James will be able to choose whether or not they wish to use them when they turn 18 – which Louise will in November.
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