Sophie Winkleman Opens Up About Going from Acting to Royal Life: 'Prince William's Been Heaven'
The Two and a Half Men actress joined the royal family when she married Lord Frederick Windsor in 2009
Meghan Markle isn't the only actress who has joined the royal family.
Nine years before Meghan said "I do" to Prince Harry at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, British actress Sophie Winkleman became part of Queen Elizabeth's extended family when she married Lord Frederick Windsor, the son of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.
Unlike Meghan’s rollercoaster relationship with her regal relatives, the actress — who starred as Ashton Kutcher's girlfriend, Zoe, in Two and a Half Men — has enjoyed a smooth ride in the royal world ever since.
"I've been incredibly welcomed with open arms by all of them. I haven’t had a single negative experience," Sophie told The Times about her 12 years as a royal.
"The Queen’s been wonderful, Prince Charles has been wonderful, Prince William's been heaven," she said. "They’d never tell me off at all if I wanted to play some [racy] role. Everyone's looked after me."
Sadly, despite their shared backgrounds in TV and living in Los Angeles (Sophie and Frederick flew to California the morning after their 2009 wedding), Sophie hasn't had the opportunity to bond closely with Meghan.
"I’ve met her a few times over here, but not well enough to get to know her," Sophie told The Times, before complimenting the Duchess on her "admirable energy and focus."
For Sophie – or Lady Frederick Windsor, as she's officially called – her close-knit royal world became particularly important after a terrifying car crash in November 2017 left her trapped in the rear of an upside-down vehicle with life-threatening injuries.
The royal was eventually cut free by first responders and transferred to the Addenbrooks Hospital in Cambridge where she spent a month recovering from a broken foot and two broken bones in her back. It was a full year before she was strong enough to carry daughters Isabella, 4, and Maud, 7.
"It was miserable," Sophie said. "Kids don’t understand that kind of thing."
To aid her recovery, Sophie received a hospital visit from Sophie, Countess of Wessex, while Prince William asked one of his colleagues from the East Anglia Air Ambulance (which serves the same area as Addenbrooks) to "take good care of her."
In a touching gesture, Prince Charles also instructed his Clarence House chef to deliver her young family a couple of hearty meals every day "for months."
Says Sophie, "It was life-saving having this massive thing twice daily I didn’t have to worry about."
The pandemic hit just as Sophie was preparing to put this all behind her and return to the stage. While she's fully aware that she enjoyed something of a pampered lockdown, she says that homeschooling Isabella and Maud (who is a schoolmate of Prince George at Thomas' Battersea!) quickly became a "gurgling mass."
"I've become immense and my way of losing weight is smoking a lot, which obviously you can’t do with two children," she jokingly told The Times.
Away from school studies, Sophie has become an ambassador for the homelessness charity magazine The Big Issue, which has been particularly hard hit by the pandemic and is also close to the heart of Prince William.
“Half of the vendors have had to stop selling," said Sophie. "We have to get people online to set up subscriptions to the magazine because it is so good."
The royal has since set up a Big Issue subscription for Princess Eugenie and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. It's also enabled her to make use of the royal role she gained during her 2009 wedding to Frederick at Hampton Court Palace.
"There are about seven people I always tap for money," Sophie said, before praising the royal family for their "phenomenally brilliant advice."
"Being a member of the royal family gives me a platform and the senior members have helped me hugely in terms of trying to fundraise," she added
This doesn't mean the pandemic has been easy for her, however. Like much of the royal family, she has been personally touched by the virus, with mother-in-law Princess Michael of Kent recently being forced to self-isolate after testing positive.
"She’s a good, strong woman," Sophie said about Princess Michael, who is married to the Queen's first cousin. "She’s in quite good fettle."