Who is The Duchess of Edinburgh? Woman, 81, dies after being hit by royal escort

·2-min read
The Duchess of Edinburgh has offered her ‘heartfelt thoughts and prayers’  (PA Wire)
The Duchess of Edinburgh has offered her ‘heartfelt thoughts and prayers’ (PA Wire)

A “sprightly” 81-year-old grandmother who was struck by a police escort for the Duchess of Edinburgh in west London has died.

Duchess Sophie had expressed her concern after the incident happened at the junction of Cromwell Road and Warwick Road in Earl’s Court, west London, on May 10.

On Wednesday morning, it was confirmed Londoner Helen Holland had died.

The family said the mother of four was a “well-respected and popular member of the community” who had 10 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

On being informed of her death, Buckingham Palace said in a statement: “The Duchess of Edinburgh is deeply saddened to hear that Helen Holland has passed away.

“Her Royal Highness’s deepest condolences and sympathies go to all of Ms Holland’s family.”

It is understood Sophie will be in touch privately with Ms Holland’s family.

So who is the Duchess of Edinburgh?

Who is the Duchess of Edinburgh?

The Duchess of Edinburgh, whose full name is Sophie Rhys-Jones, was born on January 20, 1965, in Oxford, England. She is the youngest of four children. Her father, Christopher Bournes Rhys-Jones, worked as a tyre salesman, and her mother, Mary O’Sullivan, worked in a part-time capacity.

The Duchess attended Dulwich Preparatory School and later moved on to West Kent College, where she studied secretarial skills. She then pursued a career in public relations, working for several companies in this field.

In 1993, the Duchess launched her own PR firm called RJH Public Relations. This had an impressive clientele that included high-profile clients such as the National Lottery. Her successful career in PR contributed to her crossing paths with members of the Royal Family.

The Duchess met Prince Edward, the youngest son of the late Queen Elizabeth II, in 1993 at a charity event. The couple dated for several years and announced their engagement in January 1999. They were married on June 19, 1999, at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.

After their marriage, the duchess was granted the title of Countess of Wessex. She became Duchess of Edinburgh in March when King Charles named his younger brother the Duke of Edinburgh (the royal title previously belonged to their father, Prince Philip, who died in April 2021).

The couple have two children: Lady Louise Windsor, born in 2003, and James, Viscount Severn, born in 2007.

As a full-time working member of the Royal Family, the duchess works on behalf of the king across the UK and Commonwealth, and is patron of more than 70 charities and organisations.

According to the Royal Family’s website, every year, she visits hundreds of schools, hospitals, military bases, charities, and community groups to see their work first-hand and to highlight it to the wider world.