The rise of Lady Louise Windsor! How Edward and Sophie’s horse-mad daughter has gone from a ‘normal’ childhood out of the spotlight to a polished young royal who has been hailed the Firm’s ‘secret weapon’
- Queen’s granddaughter Lady Louise Windsor, 18, has enjoyed a meteoric rise
- The unassuming teenager grew up out of the spotlight but is now well-known
- Lady Louise is heading for St Andrews and has a job at a local garden centre
- She has been hailed the ‘secret weapon’ of the Royal Family with a bright future
A few years ago, it would have been possible for Lady Louise Windsor to walk down the street without prompting a second glance from passers-by.
The unassuming 18-year-old, often seen in country casuals or prim dresses, spent her childhood largely out of the spotlight, growing up in the leafy surrounds of the family’s £30million home of Bagshot Park, just a few miles from Windsor Castle.
Now it is a very different story. Over the last two years, Lady Louise has taken on an increasingly public role as her parents Prince Edward and the Countess of Wessex have been bumped up the royal food chain following the disgrace of Prince Andrew and the departure of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
She was front and centre in the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, joined her parents at the Commonwealth Games and made her successful TV debut in a documentary about her beloved grandfather the Duke of Edinburgh.
Indeed she has become such a well-known face that she is recognised by customers of the garden centre where she has been working for £6.63 per hour since finishing her A-levels in June.
Now Lady Louise is preparing for her next chapter as a student after learning yesterday that she has the grades she needs to read English at the University of St Andrews, where her cousin Prince William famously met his future wife.
Stepping into the spotlight: Lady Louise is headed off for university after receiving her A-level results. Pictured, the young royal with her mother Sophie Wessex during the Platinum Jubilee
Out of the spotlight: Lady Louise enjoyed a largely ‘normal’ childhood. She made one of her first high profile appearances as a bridesmaid at the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding in 2011. Pictured, travelling in a carriage with her cousin Prince Harry at the event
Passionate: The teenager (left in 2016) is an accomplished horsewoman who inherited her love of carriage-driving from her grandfather the Duke of Edinburgh
Flourishing: Lady Louise, pictured with the Duchess of Cambridge at the 2012 Paralympic Games, has been dubbed the ‘secret weapon’ of the future of the Royal Family
While it remains to be seen how her role might shift while she is at university, there is no doubt her grandmother the Queen will be watching proudly every step of the way.
Unlike her older cousins, Princes William and Harry, Louise was able to see a lot more of her grandparents growing up because she has always lived just 11 miles from Windsor and had the benefit of being born around the time the Queen and Prince Philip scaled back their long-haul travel.
Prince Edward and the Countess of Wessex, wanted to give their daughter and son James, Viscount Severn, 14, a ‘normal’ childhood with schoolfriends and extra-curricular activities.
Lady Louise, who was born with esotropia, a condition that causes the eyes to turn inwards, which was corrected in a 2013 operation, was enrolled at St George’s School, Windsor Castle, before moving to St Mary’s School Ascot from year nine.
Largely kept out of the limelight, her first major Royal outing came at the age of nine when she was a bridesmaid at the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding in 2011.
Welcome to the world! Prince Edward and Sophie Wessex with their daughter Lady Louis following her birth in November 2003. She was born prematurely via emergency C-section
Daddy’s girl: Lady Louise with her father Prince Edward on a family holiday marking Princess Anne’s 60th birthday in 2010. She stands with her hands behind her back, just like her father
Proud Granny: The Queen places an affectionate hand on Lady Louise’s head at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in 2011. Lady Louise spent a lot of time with her grandmother growing up
Happy family: The Earl and Countess of Wessex with their children in a photo marking his 50th
Many royal watchers noted her similarity to the Queen at the same age.
But it was through her grandfather the Duke of Edinburgh that she discovered her passion for carriage-driving.
Following his retirement, Philip had more time to enjoy carriage-driving, which was one of his favourite past-times since the 1970s. He raced carriages near Norfolk before going on to represent Britain at several world and European championships.
Sophie Wessex previously revealed that Prince Philip was ‘so pleased’ when his granddaughter wanted to take up the sport.
”My father-in-law was always so good at encouraging, he was really encouraging of Louise. So when she not only said “please can I have a go”, but then when she showed a flair for it, he was just brilliant with her,’ she said.
On her best behaviour: Lady Louise Windsor joins her parents for the Easter church service at Windsor Castle in 2012. She prepares to present a posy to her grandmother the Queen
Shared interests: The Queen and Lady Louise chat at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in 2014
‘They used to chat away about it and he would always turn up if she was competing in the Great Park, he would always turn up to watch her and watch her training days.’
Royal expert Ingrid Seward added in an interview with FEMAIL: ‘Prince Philip took pleasure in watching Louise compete at the Royal Windsor Horse Show.
‘He would have made sure she had some top-class tuition from one of his grooms and of course the availability of ponies and carriages to drive.’
Lady Louise now takes part in competitions and has driven her grandfather’s ponies as a way to keep his memory alive.
The teenager, who was also a Girl Guide, also paid tribute to her grandfather by completing her Duke of Edinburgh award.
In the public eye: Lady Louise with her parents and younger brother at Trooping the Colour in 2013. The Wessexes were much further down the royal food chain when she was growing up
Confident: Lady Louise joins her father Prince Edward to ride out on the final night of the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations in 2016. The teenager is an avid equestrian
Dignified: Lady Louise was a ‘special attendant’ at the wedding of Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank, pictured, and handled herself with poise when her dress blew up on the stairs
Royal events: The Wessexes arrive for church on Christmas Day at Sandringham in 2018
Prince Edward commented on how it had made his daughter ‘more confident’.
‘It’s just broadened her horizons. I think she’s probably got a little focused on, especially at the school she is at, just on the academics,’ he said of his daughter, who studied Politics, English, History and Drama at AS Level.
The Countess of Wessex described her daughter as a ‘committed person’ who spent a lot of time on her bike during lockdown.
‘This is the kind of thing that really ticks the boxes for her. But in terms of confidence, it’s given her a huge amount. She’s taken up fencing again as her skill, which she has really loved,’ she said.
Lady Louise demonstrated her poise on the public stage when she suffered a brief mishap while acting as a ‘special attendant’ in the bridal party for Princess Eugenie’s wedding to Jack Brooksbank in 2018.
Devastated: Lady Louise with her tearful mother the Countess of Wessex, father Prince Edward and brother James, Viscount Severn, at Prince Philip’s funeral in April 2021
By their side: Lady Louise took on a public role in the days following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh. Pictured, delivering a tribute to Prince Philip with her parents
TV debut: Lady Louise reflected on her relationship with her grandfather in a BBC documentary aired after his death. It marked her first major interview on camera
‘Remember how she helped the bridesmaids on the steps of St. George’s Chapel as they went inside at Princess Eugenie’s wedding and her skirt blew up in the wind in front of the TV cameras? She handled it very deftly,’ Ingrid noted of the incident.
The end of her school career has coincided with a seismic shift in the Royal Family.
While she was growing up her father, as the Queen’s fourth and youngest son, was given less responsibility than his elder siblings. By extension, his family was also afforded a more low-key existence.
Yet following the departure of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in 2020 and the subsequent disgrace of Prince Andrew, the Wessexes have found themselves thrust into the spotlight.
Sophie, 57, is one of the Queen’s most trusted confidantes and has been described as the Royal Family’s ‘secret weapon’.
She played a particularly public role in the days following the death of her beloved father-in-law the Duke of Edinburgh and she and Edward recently embarked on a high profile tour to mark the Platinum Jubilee.
Putting her best foot forward: Lady Louise with her family at the Service of Thanksgiving for the life of the Duke of Edinburgh in March
Bright and beautiful: Lady Louise has been making more confident fashion choices, as seen in the Royal Family outing to the Easter church service at Windsor Castle in April
Country casual: Lady Louise at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in May (left) and in a flowy pattern skirt and trainers at the Commonwealth Games this month
Public outings: Lady Louise joined her family for a beach clean-up in Southsea in 2020
The responsibilities have only increased as the Queen, 96, continues to step back from public life.
Their daughter could soon follow in their footsteps.
Phil Dampier, who has covered the Royals for nearly 40 years, previously told the Daily Telegraph: ‘She seems to be very mature for her age and she’s shaping up to be precisely the kind of person the Queen can rely on in the future.
‘Could there be a role for her in a slimmed-down monarchy? The Queen and Philip had 1,500 patronages between them.
‘You have to ask yourself who is going to continue their legacy with Harry and Meghan and Prince Andrew off the scene? There’s a huge workload there.’
Over the last two years Lady Louise has taken part in royal engagements ranging from a beach clean-up to a training session with England Hockey.
Starring role: Lady Louise showed off her carriage-driving skills during the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in May
Perfectly poised: In a carriage with her brother for the royal procession down the mall ahead of Trooping the Colour during the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations
Following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh, she joined her parents on a number of outings to thank the public and members of the royal household for their kindness to the Queen.
After a dignified display at Prince Philip’s funeral, the teenager was interviewed on camera for a documentary about his life in which she praised his sense of adventure and their shared interest in carriage-driving.
This year, things have ramped up yet again. Lady Louise was called upon to demonstrate her equestrian skills at the A Gallop Through History performance which kicked off the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
She appeared in the Queen’s birthday parade, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace and at the parties and concerts at Buckingham Palace.
Most recently she joined her parents and brother for several days of action at the Commonwealth Games, including one with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their daughter Princess Charlotte.
Privately, Lady Louise has also been getting a taste of the ‘real world’ with her part-time job at a garden centre, the location of which has not been disclosed.
Family day out: Sophie Wessex with her children at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham
Royal sports fan! Lady Louise cheers as she watches the hockey at the Commonwealth Games
Like any other young worker, the royal has been helping out on the tills, greeting customers, pruning and potting plants.
While the security arrangements for her job have also not been made public, her parents Edward and Sophie are thought to only receive police protection when on official duties and engagements.
One shopper told The Sun: ‘I knew the cost-of-living crisis was bad, but I didn’t think I’d ever see a grandchild of the Queen working in a garden centre.’
Another customer added: ‘The staff seemed to adore her. It’s not every day you buy your begonias off a royal.’ And a third, who was served by the royal, said: ‘I couldn’t believe it was Lady Louise, I had to look twice.
‘She is a really modest and sweet young woman who is polite and attentive to customers. She seemed to be loving the job. You’d never imagine the Queen’s granddaughter would take on a role working behind a till.’
Ingrid Seward, editor of Majesty magazine, said: ‘Isn’t it wonderful the Queen’s granddaughter rolled her sleeves up and got her hands dirty with a summer job before going to university — just like any other normal teenager.’