Queen Elizabeth II’s youngest son, Prince Edward, is perhaps the least visible among his royal siblings. This preference for a low-key lifestyle extends even to his wife, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, and their two kids, Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn, who, despite being Her Majesty’s grandkids, are without the HRH title.

That’s why it’s surprising to hear that despite Sophie’s low-profile lifestyle, there was a point in time where she was “resented” by her two high-profile sisters-in-law. According to reports, this was because of the perceived difference in treatment that Queen Elizabeth II gave the Countess of Wessex even before she married Prince Edward.

Sophie, who married Prince Edward in 1999, joined the royal family much later than Princess Diana and Sarah Ferguson did as the latter two married Prince Charles in 1981 and Prince Andrew in 1986, respectively. In fact, Diana was already dead before Sophie and Edward tied the knot.

But the three ladies did meet when Sophie was still Prince Edward’s girlfriend. And it was at this point that Diana and Fergie saw how different Sophie’s entry into the royal family was compared to their own.

“The Princess of Wales and Duchess of York only discovered how difficult royal life could be after they were engaged and already en route to the altar,” royal author Ingrid Seward wrote in her book “Prince Edward,” which came out in 1995. Lady Di, in particular, reportedly had a rough time adjusting to the lifestyle that she even tried to call off her engagement to Prince Charles.

In contrast, Sophie had a much easier transition to life as a member of the royal family. “Sophie was being given a careful and subtle introduction, a fact that did not escape the notice of Diana and Sarah,” the author added.

Sophie was already allowed to stay in the Palace even when she was still Prince Edward’s girlfriend. Princess Diana and Sarah Ferguson, on the other hand, only moved into the Palace after their respective engagements to Prince Charles and Prince Andrew.

Thus, it’s understandable for Diana and Sarah to be a little displeased about what they viewed as preferential treatment from Queen Elizabeth II. “Both would later complain (with more than an edge of resentment in their voices) that they had received no such help as they struggled to get to terms with their new situation,” Seward wrote.

But it turns out that Her Majesty has a very practical reason for allowing Prince Edward and Sophie to be together as much as possible before they got engaged. Given the problematic marriages of Edward’s siblings, the monarch wanted her youngest son to know her girlfriend better before committing to an engagement.

“The failures of the marriages of Edward's beloved sister Anne and then, in rapid and ever more embarrassing succession, Andrew and Charles, made him even more determined to put caution before commitment,” Seward added.

It turned out that Queen Elizabeth II’s change in attitude was right all along. Prince Edward and Sophie just celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary this year, proving that their union is as durable as ever.

Sophie, Countess of Wessex, and Prince Edward Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, ride a carriage on the day of their wedding. Getty Images/Tim Graham