Often admired from afar, the countess, a female member of a royal family, has specific duties that she must carry out once she is either born or marries into a family of royalty. Although she may not be the leader of a royal family, as a queen or princess might be--although many are a princess as well--she must carry out an specific role as part of the functioning organism that rules a country or acts as its figurehead.
One of the primary duties of a countess is to attend to her people--the population living in the area of which she is countess--and ensure their well-being to the best of her capabilities. For example, Princess Mary, the Countess of Harewood in the late 19th century, attended to the needs of wounded servicemen and their families by creating a fund called Princess Mary's Christmas Gifts Fund.
Depending on the country or royal families, some countesses may have no duties other than to accompany their husbands to formal functions. This was the case of the Countess of Wessex until 2008, when she was promoted to the senior role of official companion to the queen of Jordan when she visited during that year.
As an esteemed member of the royal family, a countess may be asked to lend her knowledge and power to a role other than her countess position. Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone, held several positions during her reign in the mid-21st century; these included honorary air commandant, colonel in chief and the first chancellor to the University of the West Indies.