Sophie, Duchess Of Edinburgh's Most Inappropriate Outfits

Members of the royal family have access to some of the best fashion and stylists, yet they still manage to miss the mark upon occasion. From Queen Camilla to Meghan Markle, everyone within that world has had a round of inappropriate outfits they have worn over the years — even those who may not be in the spotlight as much, like Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh.

If you're a royal fanatic, you likely already know exactly who Sophie is, but if not or if you need a refresher, Sophie is the wife of Prince Edward, Duke of Edinburgh. Prince Edward is the youngest child of the late Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. After years of friendship, Sophie and Prince Edward sparked a romance in 1993 before she became his wife six years later. Sophie donned a traditional wedding dress on the big day, surely in line with the royal family's strict dress code.

Although it's been a few decades, Sophie's dress isn't outdated as its simplistic design has kept it in style. And the wedding dress is certainly not one of her most tragic outfits. Over the years, the Duchess of Edinburgh has experimented with different fashion choices. The majority of her outfits scream "royal family member," but others have been a little more questionable, as she has sported some inappropriate ensembles throughout her time in the spotlight.

Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh, was nearly caught in a strappy situation

The early days of being in a relationship is perhaps when you want to impress your significant other's family the most — and that pressure is even worse if you're dating someone in the royal family. But it seems that Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh, felt comfortable (maybe a little too comfortable) when she began dating Prince Edward, Duke of Edinburgh, in 1993. Not long after sparking her romance with Prince Edward, Sophie wore a risky outfit at the 1995 gathering at Royal Ascot. 

It's no secret the late Queen Elizabeth II had a love for horses and the Royal Ascot was perfect to feed her passion, as it has traditionally hosted members of the royal family. According to the Royal Ascot's website, there are different dress codes for each enclosure on the property, one of which does not allow thin straps on dresses. The website reads, "As long as the top or dress has straps of one inch or greater, and isn't off the shoulder or Bardot, it will be permitted." 

Although it's unclear what enclosure Sophie was in, it couldn't have been a good look that she was wearing a very thin crisscross-strapped dress the day of the 1995 Royal Ascot. But to give credit where credit is due, the Duchess of Edinburgh appeared to cover it up with a cropped black cardigan. Still, every now and then, the thin straps peeked out. 

The plunging neckline to rival Princess Diana's revenge dress

While usually dressing the part of a royal wife, Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh, has proven that she is also not afraid to take fashion risks every now and then. She did just that when she attended the Childline and Mission Enfance Royal Gala Dinner in 2006. The Duchess of Edinburgh was all smiles as she wore an all-black look to the event, sporting a floor-length skirt that had sparkled detail going down the front. She paired the look with a black top that had a deep, deep plunge. 

Fashion expert Daena Borrowman broke down the royal dress code to the Express, highlighting why this ensemble was a risky choice. She explained, "It is customary for senior royals to dress modestly during public appearances, in order to preserve the sanctity of the Royal Family." Sophie is often thought of as a senior member of the royal family since she and Prince Edward, Duke of Edinburgh, actively represent the Crown through their work. Clearly, Sophie was willing to break any unsaid protocol the night of the gala. The daring approach may not have been the most suited fashion choice for the event, but it did showcase the stunning piece of jewelry around her neck. 

Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh's disastrous summer look

Summer was in full bloom when Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh, stepped out for the Hampton Court Palace Show in July of 2009. It must have been a hot day in England because Sophie decided to bare it all with a mid-length dress that showed off her legs. 

There is no official rule against women in the royal family showing off their legs, but it seems like more of an unspoken protocol. Royal expert Victoria Arbiter told Insider, "You never see a royal without their nude stockings." Kate Middleton has been one member of the family that seems to follow this unspoken rule more frequently than not — according to People, the Princess of Wales even has a favorite brand of pantyhose. And it's not surprising that Kate opted for tights whenever she went out in a shorter dress during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. "I would say that's really the only hard, steadfast rule in terms of what the Queen requires," Arbiter continued.

Perhaps due to her strong relationship with the queen, this "rule" didn't bug Sophie, who didn't appear to wear any tights while out at the show. The dress itself was also another disaster that had different brown patterned swirls, making it something of an eyesore. From the busy pattern to the missing pantyhose, this look seemed unfitting for a royal family member to wear.

The baggy pantsuit that became a fashion catastrophe

Pantsuits are nothing new among the royal family. Princess Diana was known to rock a pantsuit, and Kate Middleton was even praised for this look in 2023. Daily Telegraph fashion director Bethan Holt told People, "I think [Kate wearing a pantsuit] marks a new era in her royal life. It shows her confidence is growing and that she's willing to take more risks and do something that might not have come naturally to her." But while Kate and Princess Diana have received praise for their pantsuit looks, we're not sure that Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh, would receive the same approval for hers. 

In March 2024, the duchess stepped out with hubby Prince Edward, Duke of Edinburgh, wearing a navy blazer with matching pants. Prince Edward wore a similar outfit, making them look like the ultimate couple goals, but there was one major difference between the pair's looks — the fit. Sophie seemed to take a page out of Gen Z fashion by rocking pants that were intentionally a couple sizes too big. Baggy clothes are nothing new in fashion, but rarely do you see them on members of the royal family. The oversized look may work for Gen Z, but just seemed a bit inappropriate for a duchess. 

The public was not jolly about the Duchess of Edinburgh's Christmas carol outfit

People usually spread joy and cheer in the holidays, but the public wasn't so cheerful when Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh, wore an outfit they deemed to be terrible. In December 2023, the duchess joined the rest of the royal family for an annual Christmas carol event held at Westminster Abbey. Sophie opted out of traditional red or green and instead wore a blue coat that reached just above her ankles. Underneath it, she wore an all-white ME+EM mid-calf dress and paired it with a brown heeled boot. While some people praised Sophie's bold fashion choice, others found it to be so mismatched they couldn't help but voice their opinion online.  

One person wrote on Instagram (via Express), "Nope, just nope. The hair is a mess, the boots are too casual and too heavy and the wrong color." The color palette on Sophie's Christmas carol look threw many online users off and they were willing to offer their advice to make the look better. "Bad pairing of the blue coat and brown boots," another person added. "Sophie should have worn her cream colored coat that matched her dress or ditched the brown and worn her cream colored heels. So many other alternative choices than this ..." While color-blocking can lead to a high-fashion moment, it's a little too risky for members of the royal family, especially during the festive period when people have particular expectations surrounding color schemes.