The Duchess Of Edinburgh Provides A Rare Glimpse Into ‘Sad And Emotional’ Secret Trip

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The Duchess Of Edinburgh Provides A Rare Glimpse Into 'Sad And Emotional' Secret Trip

Duchess Sophie is revealing details about her secret trip to Ukraine.

In a first-person account for The Sunday Times, the royal described her arrival in Kyiv at the end of April.

She explained that her visit was “at the request of the British government” and came in response to reports of “an estimated 169 cases of conflict-related sexual violence in Ukraine.” Sophie, 59, is the first British royal to visit Ukraine since the war began.

During her visit, aimed at highlighting the devastating impact of conflict-related sexual violence, Sophie toured a UN survivor relief center and met with Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska and President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“He [President Zelensky] also inquired after the King’s health, which gave me the opportunity to hand him a letter from His Majesty,” recalled the wife of Prince Edward. “I think he was quite touched and said he would save it for a private moment later to read.”

Among her other stops, Duchess Sophie travelled to Kyiv’s St Sophia Cathedral, the suburbs of Bucha and Irpin, and the British ambassador’s residence, before heading to Warsaw on her return trip home. 

“Since returning to the UK, many people have said how brave or courageous I was for going. I am neither,” states the mum-of-two. “The brave people are those who have endured extreme violence and survived. The courageous are those who have reported the crimes committed against them. I am glad to have made the journey. Inevitably it was sad and emotional, and the painful stories and images, as with all my visits to places of conflict, will live with me.”

On International Women’s Day in 2019, Sophie publicly declared her commitment to championing the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda and the UK’s Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative (PSVI) during a reception for Women Peacebuilders at Buckingham Palace.

At the time, she said: “As someone who firmly believes in the equality of men and women, I feel drawn to your cause and to do what I can to help raise further awareness of your work.

“To help give voice to women and girls who are being denied their fundamental rights as humans and are being subjected to harm and violence as a result of conflict, to promote those who seek to play a part in finding peace, and to support others as they attempt to rebuild their lives.

“Therefore I am publicly committing myself to doing what I can to champion and support WPS and PSVI and make this a central pillar of my work in the coming months and years.”

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