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Saturday, May 18, 2024
Saturday May 18, 2024
Saturday May 18, 2024

Duchess of Edinburgh makes historic visit to Ukraine, affirms UK support

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Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh, becomes the first British royal to visit war-torn Ukraine, meeting with President Zelensky and addressing survivors of conflict

In a significant and symbolic gesture of solidarity, Sophie, the Duchess of Edinburgh, embarked on a surprise visit to Ukraine, marking her as the first member of the British Royal Family to visit the country since the Russian invasion began. The visit, which took place on Monday and was conducted on behalf of the UK Foreign Office, underscores the UK’s continued support for Ukraine amidst ongoing conflict.

During her one-day trip, the Duchess met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and First Lady Olena Zelenska, where she conveyed a personal message from King Charles. The discussions focused on the support for survivors of sexual violence in conflict, an issue that the Duchess has actively championed through her work with the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative.

Sophie’s visit also included a poignant stop in Bucha, a town that became emblematic of the horrors of war following its occupation by Russian forces. There, she paid her respects to the lives lost during the conflict. The Duchess’s engagements in Ukraine did not stop at high-level meetings; she also interacted directly with those most affected by the war. She spoke to survivors of sexual violence and torture, listening to their harrowing stories and the devastating human costs of the conflict, particularly on women and girls.

At an evening reception held at the residence of the UK ambassador to Ukraine, Martin Harris, the Duchess spoke passionately about her experiences meeting survivors in other conflict-affected regions of the world. She emphasized the brutal use of rape as a weapon of war to “demean, degrade, and destroy” communities.

The Duchess’s visit comes amid a backdrop of the British Royal Family’s vocal support for Ukraine. King Charles previously marked the second anniversary of the invasion, condemning the “indescribable aggression” and the “unprovoked attack” by Russia. This visit by Sophie not only reaffirms the UK’s diplomatic stance but also highlights the Royal Family’s commitment to addressing and advocating for the human impacts of war.

Sophie’s efforts to shed light on these issues are part of a broader royal engagement with global humanitarian crises. In the past year, she has visited regions like Baghdad, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, focusing on violence against women and promoting education for girls.

The Duchess of Edinburgh’s visit to Ukraine is a powerful statement of support and a reflection of the UK’s ongoing commitment to the Ukrainian people. It also signals a continuing role for the Royal Family in engaging with global issues on the world stage, leveraging their influence to foster international solidarity and support for those impacted by conflict

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