Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, visited the Tapa Military base which is Estonia’s 1st Infantry Brigade on Wednesday. She was in Estonia from 2-3 May. Her Royal Highness serves as the Royal Colonel of 5th Battalion The Rifles. She has visited the battalion on several occasions in Germany, Afghanistan and the United Kingdom.
At the base, she met the British, French, Estonian, and Danish soldiers serving there as part of NATO’s “enhanced forward presence” there. She also examined the 1st Infantry Brigade.
The commanding officer of the NATO battle group, Lt. Col. Mark Wilson, and the commander of the 1st Infantry Brigade, Col. Veiko-Vello Palm met her when she arrived. The latter offered an overview of the 1st Infantry Brigade and the CV9035 infantry fighting vehicles used by the Estonian defence forces. Sophie then travelled to the training grounds of the Estonian defence forces where she saw the armoured equipment utilised by the NATO troops.
During her visit to the European country, she met the President of Estonia, Kersti Kaljulaid, and the Prime Minister of Estonia, Juri Ratas. While meeting with the Prime Minister, the two shared a joke and the views on a balcony overlooking the city.
Tuesday saw the Countess visit a pre-school for children with learning disabilities. Sophie was greeted by students waving Union Jacks outside Pallipõnn Pre-School before heading indoors where she appeared right at home with the young children. She participated in an impromptu tea party complete with plastic crockery, played cards with the youngsters and broke with royal protocol by hugging a little boy back who hugged her. She also played a game of hide-and-seek with one pupil.
The Countess is often seen with children, and she is well-loved by them due to her interaction with them. Before entering the school, she stopped to chat with a little girl who wore a puffy jacket similar to her own. She easily fit in with the youngsters as she entered the school.
Her Royal Highness also joined the Estonian Girl Guides for marshmallow toasting. She serves as the President of Girlguiding in the United Kingdom.