Princess Alexandra and the Countess of Wessex spent Wednesday together on a rare joint engagement. The two senior royals opened the new regional centre for Guide Dogs South West in Bristol, and to transition a patronage.
Princess Alexandra of Kent has been a part of Guide Dogs for 67 years, and Sophie is now taking over the patronage. The Guide Dogs story starts in 1931 when Muriel Crooke and Rosamund Bond started training a handful of guide dogs in Wallasey, Merseyside. The charity is the world’s largest breeder and trainer of working dogs, and they have trained over 36,000 guide dogs in the last 90 years. The group is a founding member of the International Guide Dogs Foundation, an organisation made up of dog guide groups from across the world.Embed from Getty Images
The two royals thoroughly enjoyed their time at centre, looking to be having fun. After giving a speech, Alexandra spoke with several volunteers and staff members. As reported in Hello, Jamie Hambro, Guide Dogs Chairman, thanked the princess for her work. “We are incredibly honoured to mark and to thank in person, Princess Alexandra, for her wonderful contribution over the last sixty-seven years, first as our President, then since 1957 as our Patron.”
The pair were treated to demonstrations of puppy and dog training classes, and were able to learn more about how guide dogs can help the visually impaired. Sophie then headed out to meet some of the dogs, including a very friendly puppy.
This is particularly thoughtful patronage for Sophie, as she has long focused on causes related to blindness and the visually impaired. Earlier this week, Sophie went biking on a tandem bike in London to raise money for the Vision Foundation.Embed from Getty Images
After visiting the new centre, Princess Alexandra and the Countess of Wessex went to Windmill Hill City Farm in Bristol. It is a 4.5 acre farm in Bristol, and is free to visit to enjoy their nature walks, animals, and cafe. Sophie wasn’t afraid to help feed the goats at the farm before seeing the other animals.