The Countess of Wessex completed her tour of India Friday, after a five-day visit to the country on behalf of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust.
Thursday the Countess headed from Mumbai to New Delhi to visit the United Services Institution of India. The Countess joined a roundtable discussion on gender-based violence in conflict and India’s approach to Women, Peace and Security.
Sophie announced her intent to support the UK’s efforts in the Women, Peace and Security agenda and the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative (PSVI) earlier this year. During Thursday’s roundtable, she discussed her experiences at the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York and learned more about how India is tackling the issue of sexual violence in conflict.
During the evening, she attended a reception at the British High Commission in New Delhi. The event “recognised the ambition to create a Vision Catalyst Fund driven by public and private sector organisations who are coming together to accelerate health systems change and to expand universal eye health coverage across the globe,” according to the Royal Family’s Twitter account.
Sophie delivered a speech about her experiences this week in India and the impact the Trust has made to date. Her address read, in part:
“This particular initiative here in India has been incredibly successful not just because of the dedication and expertise of specialists like Dr Jalali. It is down to the partnership between the Trust and government, whose leadership has enabled the collaboration between all partners involved to allow this incredible transformation to flourish.
The legacy of the initiative in the care premature babies are given across India is permanent.
It is incontrovertible proof that government leadership can change the face of an issue by engaging everyone involved to provide tangible, effective and achievable solutions.”
A film called Life With Sight was shown during the reception, and the countess shared her personal connection to the programme:
“This is the third time I have seen this film Life with Sight and each time I see it it makes me cry. My daughter, Louise, was born prematurely and so every time I see anything to do with premature babies it takes me back to those early days, the shock of her early arrival, and then the realisation that she had a sight issue, which we would have to manage.”
Friday, the Countess of Wessex carried out her last day of engagements in India, first visiting the Sarvodaya Kanya Vidhylaya School in New Dehli.
She chatted with students and sat in on their lessons as she learned about the school’s unique “happiness curriculum.” Tools such as mindfulness and storytelling are used “to stimulate good mental health and promote confidence in young people.”
Sophie even took part in a “friendly arm wrestle” with a student, laughing and resting her head on her arm as she was defeated. Later in the visit, she watched a performance of the school’s Changing Minds, Changing Moves and Cultural Dance programmes.
This tour marked the Countess of Wessex’s final overseas visit on behalf of the Trust, which will close in January 2020 as planned.
Note: This story will be updated as additional information is released on the final two engagements of the tour.