They’ve covered tens of thousands of miles, carried out hundreds of engagements and been at the heart of family events. It’s been another busy year for the Earl and Countess of Wessex, and as they get ready to do it all again in 2019, Royal Central is looking back at the past twelve months for Sophie and Edward. Here’s the Wessex year.
The Earl of Wessex began his year by launching the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Real Tennis Tour 2018 at Cambridge. It was the start of a twelve-month programme which would see Edward play the sport at every real tennis court in the world to encourage support for the DofE Award Scheme. The Prince also hosted a series of receptions for young people who had achieved the Gold Award in the scheme throughout January.
The Countess of Wessex turned 53 in the first month of 2018, and by the time she celebrated, on January 20th, she had already packed in a series of engagements and meetings supporting some of the organisations with which she works including the Royal School of Ballet. Soon after her big day, she headed to Northern Ireland for a series of engagements in Belfast.
As the month came to an end, Edward and Sophie travelled to Sri Lanka to represent The Queen at events marking the 70th anniversary of independence.
The first part of February was spent in Sri Lanka where the Earl and Countess of Wessex met the country’s president and government ministers during their stay. On February 4th 2018, they attended a parade to mark the seventieth anniversary of Sri Lanka’s independence. During their five day visit, Edward and Sophie also spent time at the British Council in Colombo, toured the Udawalawe National park and hosted receptions for DofE Award Gold winners.
The Earl of Wessex then travelled to India where his agenda included several events for the DofE Award and the real tennis tour. Edward also hosted a sports and empowerment reception and toured a community centre. The Countess of Wessex returned to the UK where she visited Westmorland and Cumbria while on his return, Edward’s agenda took him to Bristol and Holyport for engagements.
The first week of March 2018 saw the Countess of Wessex head to Malta for a forty-eight-hour visit which included events to mark International Women’s Day, receptions for students and entrepreneurs and an engagement at the Fort Saint Elmo Museum in Valletta. On her return from Malta, there were visits to Swansea and Farnham for the Countess.
The Earl of Wessex travelled to Lisburn in Northern Ireland for the Welcome Home Parade of 2nd Batallion The Rifles of which he is Royal Colonel. During March, Edward’s Real Tennis tour took him to Manchester and London while the Prince also carried out a series of meetings and engagements in his role as Chancellor of the University of Bath. And on March 10th 2018, the Earl of Wessex celebrated his 54th birthday.
Prince Edward headed to Australia at the start of April for a two-week visit. The Earl of Wessex’s time in the country included stays in Melbourne, Tasmania, Brisbane and Adelaide and an itinerary which took in universities, business organisations and sporting schemes as well as continue his real tennis tour. Edward also hosted receptions and meetings for the DofE scheme and attended several days of events at the Commonwealth Games, held on the Gold Coast.
April saw the Countess of Wessex visit Herefordshire and Cornwall as well as the Vote 100 Women in Business Summit in London while both Edward and Sophie were involved with events for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting which took place in London.
The Earl of Wessex helped mark the 75th anniversary of the Royal Windsor Horse Show in May and carried out other engagements in Surrey and Suffolk. Edward’s real tennis tour took him to Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Surrey and France where he also hosted a dinner in his role as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Duke of Edinburgh Award. His work with the scheme also saw the Prince, alongside his wife, host a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May.
Sophie carried out engagements in Sussex and visited the Chelsea Flower Show to lend her support to one of the charities of which she is the patron, the NSPCC. And the Earl and Countess of Wessex, along with their children, attended the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex at Windsor in May.
Perhaps the busiest month of the year for the Wessexes, June saw Prince Edward carry out engagements in Birmingham, Dorset, Hertfordshire and Surrey and also attended a service marking the 1100th anniversary of the death of Aethelflaed, Lady of the Mercians, held in Tamworth in Staffordshire. The Earl of Wessex officially opened the renovated RAF Museum in London while his real tennis tour took him to Dorset and Oxfordshire. And he paid a four-day visit to China and Hong Kong in his role with the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.
The Countess of Wessex visited the Remus Horse Sanctuary in Essex in June while a day in Leeds included the official opening of the Clinical Research Facility at the city’s Children’s Hospital. There were also engagements for Sophie in Aldershot and Holybourne during the month while the Countess also attended the Race for the Lines final at RAF Wittering.
The Earl and Countess of Wessex were both at the Order of the Garter service at Windsor and enjoyed several days at Royal Ascot while Sophie was present at Trooping the Colour.
July and August
July was a month of commemorations for the Wessexes with the countess attending the Westminster Abbey service marking the 70th anniversary of the start of the National Health Service. The Earl and Countess joined the rest of the Royal Family at events celebrating the centenary of the RAF held during the month.
Prince Edward presented the Royal Wessex Yeomanry with a new standard during a ceremony at Lulworth Castle (he is their Royal Honorary Colonel) and carried out a series of engagements in Scotland where his stay also incorporated his real tennis tour with Kent also on that itinerary during July. In August, Edward attended a reception at Usher Hall in Edinburgh in his role as patron of the Edinburgh Festival.
The Earl of Wessex travelled to the United States of America in September for a twelve-day trip which included stays in New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, South Carolina and Virginia where the Prince also attended the Patriot Day Observance Ceremony at the Pentagon in Arlington. Many of Edward’s engagements in the US were linked to his role with the DofE scheme while his real tennis tour also continued Stateside during September.
Sophie joined her husband for a two day trip to the Republic of Ireland at the end of the month where the couple met President Michael D Higgins. The countess also carried out engagements linked to 100 Women in Finance of which she is a Global Ambassador.
September also saw Sophie visit the Westmorland County Show and the Farming Education conference and carry out a day of engagements on the Isle of Wight as well as attend a BGC Trading Day for charity.
The Earl and Countess of Wessex spent much of October on official visits to Europe with the couple heading to Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and France during the month. Prince Edward also carried out a series of engagements in Leamington Spa and Newcastle while Sophie visited Manchester and Liverpool and attended the Countess of Wessex Cup held at Sandhurst. And Edward’s real tennis tour saw him hit the famous courts at the Palace of Versailles.
The Earl and Countess of Wessex, along with their children Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn, attended the royal wedding of Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, on October 12th 2018, with Louise helping to look after the young bridesmaids and pageboys.
The couple also took a leading role in the only incoming State Visit to the UK in 2018, helping to welcome King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands to London during October. The Earl and Countess of Wessex then accompanied the Dutch royals on a day of engagements which included a breakfast meeting at the City of London Corporation and a trip to Pop Brixton.
As always, the royal focus in November was on remembrance and as well as attending the traditional Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall and the Remembrance Day ceremony at the Cenotaph at Whitehall, the Earl and Countess of Wessex paid tribute at a series of other events held to commemorate those who died while serving their country. In the year that the world marked the centenary of the Great War, Sophie attended a service remembering members of the Metropolitan Police killed in that conflict while she and Edward paid tribute at a ceremony at Llandaff Cathedral on November 11th 2018 held to mark the 100th anniversary.
November also saw the Earl of Wessex head to Ghana for a week-long visit where many of his engagements were linked to his work with the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme. Prince Edward also met the country’s president and vice president during his stay. On his return to the UK, his real tennis tour took him to Hampton Court while November also saw the Earl visit the Scottish Badminton Grand Prix and RAF Waddington.
The Countess of Wessex held a reception at Buckingham Palace to mark the tenth anniversary of the Better Lives Project run by the London College of Fashion. Sophie also officially renamed three towers at the London School of Economics after leading suffragettes to mark the 100th anniversary of women getting the vote in England, and there were also visits to the Thames Valley Air Ambulance and the Scar Free Foundation as well as the Royal Welsh Winter Fair.
Edward and Sophie also found time to celebrate the fifteenth birthday of their daughter, Louise, on November 8th 2018.
As the year wound to an end, the Countess of Wessex headed to Cornwall for a series of engagements while the Earl of Wessex held receptions for the DofE Awards Scheme and meetings in his capacity as Chancellor of the University of Bath.
It was also a happy family month for the Wessexes as they marked the 11th birthday of their son, James, on 17th December before heading to Sandringham to celebrate Christmas with the rest of the Windsors.
Edward and Sophie have packed in plenty during 2018, and as a new year beckons, their pace shows no signs of slowing. They may not always grab the headlines, but their support for the Royal Family remains consistent and plentiful.