The Countess of Wessex celebrated her 45th birthday today with a very nice present. Buckingham Palace announced that she would be given the Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order. She will be a Dame Commander of the order. This order, which was established by Queen Victoria, is a personal gift of the Sovereign. The honor is in recognition of the Countess's "personal" service to the Queen and the British monarchy.
The former Sophie Helen Rhys-Jones married Prince Edward in 1999. The couple have two children, Lady Louise Windsor and Viscount Severn.
The order is a personal gift of the Sovereign. Other royals who have been conferred as members of the Order are the Duke of Kent, Princess Alexandra, the Princess Royal, the Duchess of Kent, the Duchess of Gloucester and Prince Michael of Kent. King Michael of Romania and King Harald V of Norway are also members.
In 2004, the Countess of Wessex received Queen Elizabeth II's family order, which is limited to distaff members of the Royal Family. This order is also a personal gift of the Sovereign. The late Diana, Princess of Wales, received the honor several months after her marriage to the Prince of Wales.
The former Duchess of York did not receive the honor, and Princess Michael remains the only distaff member of the British royal family who had not received the family order.