The Countess of Wessex is in Lebanon for an official visit, Buckingham Palace confirmed on Wednesday. It is her first state visit to the Middle Eastern country and was kept under wraps for security reasons until after the Countess had arrived safely.
Her visit will primarily focus on the experiences of women in the region. She began by meeting female residents of Bekaa, the site of an informal settlement currently housing refugees from Syria. The countess spoke to 25-year-old mother Asmaa and her two children, six-year-old Sidra and five-year-old Rim, with the help of an interpreter. She heard about their struggles and hopes for the future and learned about the aid provided by organisations such as the UK Department for International Development and the World Food Programme.
The Countess met refugee Asmaa and her young children, Sidra and Rim
Since civil war broke out in Syria in 2011, 1.5 million Syrian refugees have arrived in the country, 70% of them women and girls. The Countess will also meet local women involved in peace-keeping efforts as well as those working to help prevent gender-based violence. She is accompanied by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Prime Minister's Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict, the Prime Minister's Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief and Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the United Nations. Together, they will learn more about how the UK government works to support women in Lebanon, in an effort to further strengthen the relationship between the two countries.
The Countess is in Lebanon to learn more about the plight of women and children in the region
Sophie, 54, who married Prince Edward at Windsor Castle in 1999, used to be employed in public relations and is still one of the hardest-working royals. Official statistics showed that she ranked sixth in terms of the number of engagements she carried out in 2018 – a total of 239, according to The Court Circular, which records the royal family's daily activities.
She has a particular interest in charitable and educational organisations and is patron of over 70. In 2016, she even cycled from Edinburgh to London in honour of the Duke of Edinburgh award's 60th anniversary, a staggering 445 miles.
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