It’s been a busy year for the Wessexes, with overseas tours, charity visits back home, and of course, some enthusiastic plaque unveiling and ribbon cutting from Prince Edward. We’re taking a look back at their 2019 activities and some of the stories we covered.
The Countess of Wessex kicked off the new year with a new patronage, becoming the royal patron of the Thames Valley Air Ambulance.
Later in the month, the Countess visited Shared Care, a special housing facility for those with dementia. Sophie, who has served as patron of Brendoncare since 2003, toured new flats designed to allow couples to stay together if one of them is living with dementia.
The busy countess started off the second month of 2019 with a visit to Cumbria. She learned how to make the perfect brew in the new Wessex Training Suite at a coffee and tea merchant, met with local children at Bendrigg Trust, and got down to work judging the Westmorland Agricultural Society’s Annual Silage Competition.
Later in February, Sophie headed to Bath to take a look at the fashion of royal women from the past – as well as her own famous style – when she visited the Fashion Museum’s Royal Women exhibition. Whilst in Somerset she also took part in a lesson in a Victorian schoolroom, toured a coal mining museum, and visited a local school.
To finish off the month, the countess attended a conference for the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative. Sophie heard speakers discuss what the UK is doing to combat sexual violence in conflict around the globe, and this engagement set the tone for future initiatives the Countess took part in during 2019.
Indeed, just about a week later it was announced that the Countess was going to work with the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI) and Women, Peace and Security (WPS). “As someone who firmly believes in the equality of men and women, I feel drawn to your cause and to do what I can to help raise further awareness of your work,” she said in a speech at a Buckingham Palace reception.
Meanwhile, Prince Edward celebrated his 55th birthday on 10th March and was given a special gift from The Queen when he was granted the additional title of Earl of Forfar. The Earl and Countess of Wessex can now use the titles The Earl and Countess of Forfar when in Scotland.Embed from Getty Images
Sophie got right to work with PSVI and WPS in mid-March, attending the UN Commission on Status of Women in New York City.
Later in the month, she attended the Commonwealth Eye Health Consortium five-year meeting at Prospero House in London, where she heard speakers about preventable blindness and also performed simulated cataract surgery on an artificial eye. She also hosted a reception to celebrate global eye health leaders for the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust.
In April it was announced the Earl of Wessex would attend the first-ever Slovenia/UK Friendship Day, which would take place in May 2019, and the Countess was confirmed to attend the Royal Norfolk Show in June.Embed from Getty Images
Sophie spent a day at RAF Wittering opening their new play parks and meeting with local children before heading to a fundraising dinner as patron of the British Bobsleigh & Skeleton Association.
At the end of April, the Countess headed to India for a five-day tour in her role as Vice-Patron of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust to see first-hand how the Trust has helped prevent avoidable blindness in the country.
In early May, Sophie continued her tour of India on behalf of The Trust, visiting hospitals to see their work preventing avoidable blindness in premature babies.Embed from Getty Images
A new role was announced for Sophie when the Duke of Edinburgh handed down one of his longest-held patronages to Sophie, who became patron of the Chartered Management Institute.
Prince Edward headed to Slovenia for the aforementioned UK/Slovenia Friendship Day, making a series of engagements on the trip including visiting with the President and Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia, attending a birthday party reception for The Queen, and an event for The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award for Young People in Slovenia.
The Earl and Countess of Wessex made an appearance at the Chelsea Flower Show, showing their support for the Duchess of Cambridge’s Back to Nature Garden, and we saw a lovely pink-and-black ensemble from Sophie at the second Buckingham Palace garden party of 2019.
The royal couple also held receptions in the garden of Buckingham Palace for young people who have achieved the Gold Standard in The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.
The beginning of June saw Sophie host a meeting at Buckingham Palace for survivors of sexual conflict, and she then made history by being the first member of the Royal Family to make a trip to Lebanon. The WPS agenda and women’s roles in Lebanese society played a huge part in her visit, and she met with refugees, attended a WPS meeting at the British Embassy, and took part in a dinner on women’s participation in decision making.
On 8th June, the entire Wessex family, including Lady Louise and James, Viscount Severn, participated in the annual Trooping the Colour celebrations.
Later in June, the Earl of Wessex joined his siblings and The Queen to participate in the Order of the Garter ceremony, with Sophie also in attendance, and the Wessexes also made several appearances at Royal Ascot, celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary on 19 June.Embed from Getty Images
To close out the month, Prince Edward brushed elbows with music royalty as he sat with Ed Sheeran and Muse’s Matthew Bellammy during a Cricket World Cup Group Match between England and Australia.
The new Earl and Countess of Forfar visited their new earldom on 1 July, stopping by a variety of local organisations and businesses in the area, including the Forfar Dramatic Society. Whilst in Scotland, the Earl of Forfar joined The Queen for a garden party at the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
We saw a rare appearance of the Wessex children as they visited The Wild Place Project at Bristol Zoo with their parents in late July, and Lady Louise and James, Viscount Severn looked delighted to feed a giraffe.Embed from Getty Images
After the traditional royal break in August ended, we saw the Countess of Wessex and her daughter, Lady Louise attend the Burghley Horse Trials.
Meanwhile, the Earl of Wessex toured Malaysia and Australia to promote the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award and support the Commonwealth Games and other business, sporting, youth and environmental interests between the countries and the United Kingdom.Embed from Getty Images
The Countess of Wessex continued her work with women’s issues as she headed to Kenya, attending the Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting in Nairobi.
September also saw Sophie take on a new patronage when she was announced as the new patron of the Love Musgrove charity following a visit to the Musgrove Park Hospital.
The Earl of Wessex spent two days in Northern Ireland, unveiling a new Scouting facility, visiting a stately home and a community centre, and holding a reception at Hillsborough Castle for more than 50 young people who received their Gold DofE Award.
Later in the month, Sophie headed to Kosovo to meet with survivors of sexual conflict as well as charities and government bodies to learn more about how they are resolving issues pertaining to sexual violence.
The Countess donned army fatigues to watch the Countess of Wessex cup challenge at the St John Moore Barracks in Winchester, and also attended a special joint engagement with The Queen to celebrate the work of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust.
The Countess of Wessex spent a busy day in Oxfordshire visiting the Sylva Foundation’s Sylva Wood Centre and opened the newly-restored Wessex House, as well as Earth Trust, the Footsteps Foundation, and University of Oxford South East.
As they do each year, the royal couple attended Remembrance Day events, including the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall and the Remembrance Sunday memorial ceremony at The Cenotaph.Embed from Getty Images
In his role as Trustee of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, Prince Edward wrapped up November with receptions at St James’s Palace for young people who have achieved the Gold Standard in the Award.
The Wessexes kicked off the festive season with a variety of luncheons and meetings for their various patronages. Sophie held an afternoon tea at Buckingham Palace to mark the Twentieth Anniversary of the Scar Free Foundation and also hosted a Christmas Reception at Buckingham Palace for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Women in Business Committee.
As Chancellor of the University of Bath, the Earl of Wessex presided at the university’s December degree congregations at the historic Assembly Rooms in Bath.
Both the Earl and Countess of Wessex attended the Service of Thanksgiving for the Life of Vice-Admiral Sir Donald Gosling (formerly Vice-Admiral of the United Kingdom) at Westminster Abbey.Embed from Getty Images
And of course, the whole Wessex family was present to walk to church on Christmas Day with The Queen and the other members of the British Royal Family.