The Countess of Wessex has spoken out in support of Muslim women who express their fashion sense while wearing traditional clothes like the burka.

Interviewed by a women's fashion magazine, Sophie said women from the Islamic world could be stylish and modest at the same time.

The Countess said that under a burka there was probably a woman wearing "something really quite fashionable".

Sophie was interviewed by Harper's Bazaar magazine ahead of her 50th birthday on January 20, and her comments followed an event she hosted at Windsor Castle where she met representatives from the organisation Islamic Fashion Festival.

She said: "It's very evident that Muslim women can be fashionable while also retaining their modesty... And it's a great way of bringing people together, and saying, 'Look, this is what we're really like'.

"And what people forget is that underneath the burka and everything else, there is somebody who is probably wearing something really quite fashionable."

In September the Countess, in her role as a global ambassador for the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award Foundation, held a dinner at Windsor Castle where she met Islamic Fashion Festival representatives and a number of designers showcased their clothes.

During the interview Sophie revealed that she has followed the Queen's lead when it comes to her public life as a member of the royal family.

The Countess has learnt from her mother-in-law to keep on working, no matter how tired she is, and to do things in a more "elegant" way rather than "bounce" into a room.

Sophie also praised the Queen for her ability to make everyone she talks to feel they have had a meaningful conversation.

A photoshoot accompanies the interview and the Countess is seen posing at various locations including her family home Bagshot Park.

The full interview with Sophie will appear in the next issue of Harper's Bazaar, published on Friday.