Inside glam life of royal actress set to star in ITV drama – from ‘cheating death’ to veiled digs at Meghan and Harry | The Sun

WHILE Megan Markle’s Hollywood aspirations seem to have faded, one royal’s acting career is on the up.

Lady Frederick Windsor has reportedly landed a lead role in the second series of ITV period drama Belgravia.

She is set to play aristocrat Lady Rochester in the glamorous show written by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes.

Given that she is the daughter-in-law of Prince Michael of Kent, a first cousin once removed to King Charles III, she should be well prepared for portraying a member of the aristocracy.

But she is better known by her acting name Sophie Winkleman, who grabbed the TV world's attention as Big Suze in the Channel 4 sitcom Peep Show.

In some ways Sophie, 42 – the half-sister of Strictly Come Dancing presenter Claudia Winkleman – and Meghan, 41, share a similar life path.


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Both privately educated women became successful actresses prior to marrying into the Royal Family and have spoken out on social issues.

And their husbands both had a wild reputation, including taking cocaine, in their youths.

They also both moved to Los Angeles not long after getting hitched.

But while former Suits star Meghan has stepped back from acting since getting wed to Prince Harry, Sophie has been able to keep her show business dreams alive.

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Sophie in Peep Show with co-star Robert WebbCredit: Channel 4
Sophie and Prince Harry at the wedding of Lady Gabriella Windsor and Thomas Kingston in 2019

And unlike Meghan, who has been highly critical of the royals, Sophie has praised the Firm for making her feel so welcome.

Just before Christmas, Sophie wrote in an op-ed for The Spectator: “I cherish my growing closeness to the senior members of the Royal Family who are so hardworking, uncomplaining and brave in the face of relentless and brutal media attention, criticism, lies, undermining and fictional TV programmes – and always so good to me that I'm honoured to know them.”

Some people viewed her remarks as a sly dig at Harry, Meghan, and Netflix drama The Crown.

I cherish my growing closeness to the senior members of the royal family who are so hardworking, uncomplaining and brave in the face of relentless and brutal media attention, criticism, lies

Sophie's article was published a week after the release of Harry and Meghan's Netflix documentary series.

When Sophie was involved in a serious road accident in November 2017 that nearly killed her, and told how King Charles and Prince William rallied around offering their support.

The incident happened on a dark evening in Essex, when her chauffeur-driven car was hit by another vehicle which had swerved to avoid a deer.

Sophie was trapped upside down in the back and recalled thinking she was going to die.

The emergency services managed to cut her free, but she broke two bones in her back and shattered her foot.

For three days she did not know if she would be paralysed for life, before learning she would be able to walk again.

Sophie said: "Prince Charles sensed correctly that everything would be chaos at home, so he asked his cook, instead of taking care of him, to take care of us.

"So, our lunches and dinners were cooked at Clarence House then delivered for weeks on end while I was in hospital and then still disabled at home.

"It saved our bacon, literally, because my darling husband – well, he’s good at fry-ups but that’s about it. The children would have had cholesterol coming out of their ears had their diet been left to him. It was a magnificent way to help."

Sophie is suing the insurers of the other vehicle for £200,000, claiming the injuries hampered her ability to work.

Acting dreams

Born in well-to-do Primrose Hill in North London to wealthy publisher Barry Winkleman, Sophie has always been aware of her otherwise fortunate life.

Her mother Cindy Black was a children’s author and her parents paid for Sophie to attend the £21,000-a-year City of London School for Girls.

Because big sister Claudia is seven years her senior and lived with her mum Eve Pollard they largely had “separate lives”.

Sophie pursued an acting career from early on, joining the famous Footlights troupe while studying English at Cambridge University and then the National Youth theatre.

She was nominated for BBC Best Newcomer in 2002 for her performance in Waking the Dead and starred in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe movie three years later.

It was, though, playing the posh girlfriend of Robert Webb’s character Jeremy in Peep Show that made her famous.

Royal romance

She met husband Freddie, 43, at a nightclub.

He had grown up in Kensington Palace alongside his distant cousins Princes Harry and William.

Like Harry, former party lover and Burberry model Freddie admitted to taking cocaine in his youth.

It is very difficult to avoid getting into this sort of thing when you move in these circles

In 1999, aged 22, the royal was photographed taking it in a London nightclub.

He said: "It is very difficult to avoid getting into this sort of thing when you move in these circles but I don't blame anyone else for the incident."

Oxford educated Freddie tried his hand at music journalism before landing a plum job as a financial analyst with banking giant JP Morgan.

Sophie and Freddie got married at Hampton Court in September 2009 and moved to Los Angeles shortly afterwards in the hope that it would help her acting career.

And she wasn't worried about having to turn down sexy parts just because she was a Windsor.

Sophie said: “I've been incredibly welcomed with open arms by all of them. They'd never tell me off at all if I wanted to play some role.”

They'd never tell me off at all if I wanted to play some role

It was a productive time with Sophie playing the girlfriend of Ashton Kutcher's character in the hit sitcom Two and a Half Man. 

She also became a mum, breaking new ground because her daughter Maud, nine, was the first royal baby to be born in the United States.

The couple also have seven year-old daughter Isabella.

While in the US they attended glamorous events including a pre-Oscar dinner in 2015.

When they returned to London after seven years across the pond Maud attended the same school as Prince George in Battersea. The royal children are said to be close friends.

She is often spotted at events like Wimbledon, and attended the late Queen's Christmas lunch and a string of royal weddings.

In recent years Sophie appeared in ITV's Sanditon drama series and in JK Rowling’s crime drama Strike.

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Sophie, who lives in upmarket Chelsea, has spoken about the need for privileged people to share the wealth and described her dad as a “socialist”.

She is closely involved with several charities – The Big Issue, School-Home Support, Age UK, the Children’s Surgery Foundation and Cure.

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