Sophie Wessex makes stunning appearance on eve of 56th birthday

The Countess of Wessex joined a London School of Economics webinar

Happy birthday to the Countess of Wessex, who turns 56 today! Just hours before celebrating her special milestone, Sophie joined a virtual webinar with the London School of Economics, hosted by the university’s Centre for Women, Peace and Security.

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Sophie joined a conversation on the topic of "Warfare and Peacemaking in the 21st Century: who's taking responsibility to protect and promote peace" as part of her work on the Women, Peace and Security agenda and the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative.

The royal looked lovely as ever for her appearance, wearing a burgundy number with a dark floral pattern as she spoke from her Bagshot Park home in Surrey, which she shares with Prince Edward and their children Lady Louise and James, Viscount Severn.

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WATCH: The Countess of Wessex joins London School of Economics webinar

It seems Sophie may have paid tribute to her family with her sentimental choice of necklace – a silver, heart-shaped locket that she played with throughout the discussion.

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Sophie was joined by Visaka Dharmadasa and Abir Haj Ibrahim on panel, which was chaired by Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini MBE, WPS Director at the London School of Economics.

The talk covered how each of the panellists became involved with the Women, Peace and Security agenda, how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected their work and the importance of raising awareness of the stories of women peacebuilders.

Sophie's appearance came hours before her 56th birthday

Discussing listening to the stories of survivors of sexual violence in conflict, Sophie said: "To hear their stories, when you have tears dripping off your chin - you can’t help but weep with them. I've gone to some very dark places internally, but I am not living it."

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Sophie publicly committed herself to supporting the UK's work helping victims of rape, sexual violence and exploitation in war in 2019.

The panellists discussed the Women, Peace and Security agenda 

Meanwhile, The Queen was among the first to publicly send birthday wishes to Sophie on Wednesday.

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The royal family's official Instagram account posted a photograph of Sophie dressed all in white, along with a special message behalf of Her Majesty and Prince Philip. The caption read: "Wishing The Countess of Wessex a very happy birthday today!"

The Queen has a famously close bond with Sophie, who has been married to her youngest son since June 1999. She is said to admire Sophie’s commitment to her work, as well as the "unfussy" way she carries out her royal duties.      

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