The Earl and Countess of Wessex have enjoyed a day of engagements in Latvia as they join in on the nation’s centenary celebrations.
The visit began on Tuesday morning with a welcome ceremony in Riga where Their Royal Highnesses met with the country’s President, Raimonds Vējonis, and the First Lady, Iveta Vējone.
Following on from the official greeting, Edward & Sophie joined the President at the iconic Freedom Monument which commemorates those who fought in the Latvian War of Independence.
At the monument, the Earl took part in a flower-laying ceremony to honour those involved in the conflict 100 years ago.
After remembering the war, Edward & Sophie travelled together to the National Library of Latvia.
Here, Their Royal Highnesses items contained within the library and made a donation of two books.
The royal couple gifted the library with a book on the History of Windsor Castle and a book on Sustainable Fashion Industry. These will be held in the People’s Bookshelf – an initiative that was started during Riga’s year as European Capital of Culture in 2014.
By 2019, the National Library hopes to have 15,000 books on the People’s Bookshelf.
In return, Their Royal Highnesses were presented with a silver bookmark with the words of Latvian folk song names transcribed onto it.
In the afternoon, the Earl and Countess of Wessex split up and went on a number of solo engagements across Riga.
The Earl stayed on for a little while longer at the National Library to have lunch in celebration of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation.
Shortly afterwards, he visited the British Embassy in Riga to meet the ambassador.
Meanwhile, Sophie and the Latvian First Lady visited Riga Tech Girls – the first community in Latvia dedicated to educating & inspiring girls and women about technology.
She also visited social enterprise OWA Fashion which creates high-quality clothes and provides employment opportunities for people with disabilities and those who might struggle in full-time work.
At the company, Sophie got stuck in and even created a t-shirt herself.
Finally, the Countess visited BlindArt – an enterprise which creates employment opportunities for people with visual impairments.
Sophie was given a demonstration of how to make a bag and had a go herself.
Since 2007, BlindArt has helped over 300 people gain an income by producing original design objects.
Blindness and visual impairment is something close to Sophie’s heart, and she is Patron of a number of similar charities in the UK including Vision UK, IAPB, Blind Veterans UK and the Greater London Fund for the Blind.
In the evening, the Earl and Countess will have dinner at Riga Castle with the President before departing for Lithuania.