The Countess of Wessex And her Public Relations Scandal
In 2001, the Countess of Wessex, Sophie Rhys-Jones Windsor, blundered big time when she met with a News of the World reporter disguising himself as a sheik. The reporter presented himself as a potential client of the PR firm she was running with her husband, Prince Edward. Unfortunately for Sophie, their conversation was recorded, and the reporter managed to get a few too many controversial statements out of her in the process.
Her comments included derogatory remarks about Tony Blair and other politicians. Sophie spoke about some of her clients in less than glowing terms as well. And to top it off, she shared details that her then partner, Murray Harkin, had boasted. According to the NY Post, Harkin hinted he could set up sex tours for clients, admitted to enjoying illegal drugs and could procure young men on sex tours for clients.
The hotel’s reaction was immediate, they fired the firm. Harkin then faced unprofessional conduct charges.
In 2002, after dealing with the ensuing scandal, Sophie and Edward agreed to only remain as advisors to the firm without any day-to-day involvement. Just about the time that was blowing over, the firm reported massive debts to its creditors and suppliers.
The firm closed in 2006 owing £1.7 million. And in 2009, approximately three years after closing their doors, how much of the debt had been repaid? A whopping £5,000. The Queen was appalled, the British public was disgusted. Prince Edward, Countess of Wessex Sophie, and their two children continued receiving the agreed upon £250,000 per year allowance for performing duties related to their royal status.
Fast forward to 2015 and guess what, the British press is reporting Sophie is of the favorites of the Queen. She’s recently gone through a transformation from fading into the background and now sports designer clothing from many of the same designers that Kate Middleton wears.
Maybe the Queen has just grown used to all the publicity and scandals from her children and grandchildren. But the question remains, will those creditors ever recover all of what is owed to them?