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Saturday, 7 April, 2001, 08:38 GMT 09:38 UK
Inside Sophie's PR business
Sophie Rhys-Jones and Murray Harkin
Sophie and Murray Harkin set up R-JH in 1997
The row over comments by the Countess of Wessex has reopened the debate over the role of the Royals and whether they should follow professional careers.

Sophie Rhys-Jones set up R-JH Public Relations in 1997, with her business partner Murray Harkin.

At the time, she was already involved with Prince Edward and had a high PR profile.

Over the past five years, the company has built up an exclusive client base, including the up-market china makers Thomas Goode, jewellers Boodle & Dunthorne, the Rover car company and Lady Apsley's school for butlers.

Successful firm

Murray Harkin
Harkin: 36-year-old bachelor
Last year R-JH Public Relations had a turnover of around 650,000, which is said to be approaching 1m this year.

From offices in a red-brick block in London's West Kensington, R-JH Public Relations now occupies offices in the more exclusive surroundings of Mayfair.

According to the latest published accounts, R-JH paid the four directors, including Sophie and Mr Harkin, salaries of 96,000.

Sophie is believed to own 60% of the company, with her partner holding the remaining 40%.

Mr Harkin first met Sophie when promoting a BBC programme. She was dating Prince Edward and counted among her clients Chris Tarrant and Noel Edmonds.

Colourful career

In 1996, he was recruited by Sophie for design company Hollander. A year later Mr Harkin suggested the pair go it alone in the PR business.

The 36-year-old bachelor has had a colourful career. After art college, he briefly trained as a teacher, before enrolling on a media studies course.

At the time, he supplemented his income working as a DJ and later worked in clubs alongside comedians Julian Clary, Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer.

Before setting up R-JH, Mr Harkin worked on the public relations for a Beach Boys reunion tour and also helped launch radio station Kiss FM.

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25 Oct 99 | UK
Edward: Leave Sophie alone
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