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The Edinburghs

The Duchess’s day out: Sophie’s return to royal duties

Sophie, The Countess of Wessex

Days before her birthday, the Duchess of Edinburgh boogied to ABBA’s ‘Dancing Queen’ at an elders’ exercise lesson on a visit to the Katherine Low Settlement.

Sophie was on hand to help celebrate the charity’s centenary—having been opened by the then-Duchess of York and future Queen Mother in 1924—by joining in on classes and touring the facilities.

At the elders’ exercise class, Sophie danced while ‘Dancing Queen’ played. She later joined a sewing circle that helps newly-arrived women the language and practical skills they need to find employment; and met with young people during a ‘Love to Learn’ mentoring session that focuses on education through confidence building.

Speaking to GB News after the royal’s visit, chief executive Sarah Gibb said that Sophie “was immersed in there” and “absolutely loved” dancing along to ABBA with the rest of the group.

The charity works to bring the community together by supporting young people, older people, and those from refugee backgrounds or those learning English—with over 500 people supported each week.

Later in the evening, Sophie attended a gala dinner at the residence of the French Ambassador in the United Kingdom for her patronage, the Dispensaire Français — Société Française de Bienfaisance.

The Dispensaire Français provides medical support to French people living within the UK. This includes helping newly-emigrated French speakers to navigate the National Health Service and source medical care despite the barriers.

Since its creation in 1867, the Dispensaire Français has had a royal patron, starting with Queen Victoria and continuing through the years with King George V, King George VI, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother (who held the position from 1953-2002), Queen Camilla (when she was still Duchess of Cornwall), and, since 2022, Sophie.

The French Embassy posted on X (formerly Twitter): “We are delighted to welcome the Duchess of Edinburgh as the French Residence hosts the Dispensaire Français’ biennial gala tonight.”

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About author

Jess Ilse is the Assistant Editor at Royal Central. She specialises in the British, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish Royal Families and has been following royalty since Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee. Jess has provided commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Jess works in communications and her debut novel THE MAJESTIC SISTERS will publish in Fall 2024.