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The BBC's Duncan Kennedy: Sophie Rhys-Jones: "Thoroughly modern career woman"
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Wednesday, 6 January, 1999, 17:57 GMT
Sophie lands her prince
Sophie Rhys-Jones
Sophie Rhys-Jones: Described as "cool, calm and collected"
Prince Edward first met Sophie Rhys-Jones in 1987 while she was working as a press officer at Capital Radio in London.

He was dating one of her friends at the time but she doubtless made an impression on him.

But it was not until the summer of 1993 that their romance finally got off the ground.

Sophie, a public relations executive, handled the publicity for the prince's Real Tennis Challenge.

The prince, who has seen his sister's and his two brothers' marriages end in divorce, had already been linked with a string of beauties but none came close to the altar.

'Down-to-earth'

Sophie is described by friends as gregarious, vivacious and down-to-earth, while the BBC's Court Correspondent Jennie Bond describes her as "cool, calm and collected".

She is a keen skier, sailor and windsurfer, unlike Prince Edward, who resigned his Royal Marines commission in 1987 and appears to prefer the stage to outdoor sports.

Her parents, Christopher and Mary, live in the Kent village of Brenchley, near Tunbridge Wells, where she grew up.

Her family although wealthy are, by royal standards, commoners.

Father is a tyre salesman

Mr Rhys-Jones sells tyres in Eastern Europe and she was educated at Kent College, a minor public school for girls.

She went on to sixth form college where she gained two A-levels.

She arrived in London in 1983, sharing a flat in Baron's Court and working for the public relations firm the Quentin Bell Organisation.

Next came the job with Capital Radio where she joined the promotions team organising road shows and concerts.

After three years, Sophie went out for a season to the Swiss resort of Crans Montana as a rep for the ski firm, Bladon Lines.

Fell in love with Australian

She formed a relationship with an Australian ski instructor and moved to Australia, where she worked as a courier and developed an interest in deep-sea diving.

She returned to London after a year and, at the end of 1991, joined the Macmillan Nurse Appeal as a promotions assistant before being head-hunted in May 1993 by MacLaurin Communication and Media.

Sophie - no relation to comedian Griff Rhys Jones - runs a magazine for the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme two days a week.

She also handles public relations for the upmarket catering firm, Searcy's, and Baby Lifeline, a charity dedicated to providing special baby care units throughout the UK.

Sophie, 33, has also taken on a part-time PR consultancy with west London marketing firm, Hollander Communications.

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See also:

06 Jan 99 | UK
Prince Edward 'to wed'
06 Jan 99 | UK
Edward's search for love
06 Jan 99 | UK
A royal marriage-in-waiting
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