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Duchess Sophie's secret trip to Ethiopia has special link to daughter Lady Louise Windsor

Prince Edward's wife is celebrating the work of international eye care charity Orbis

Lady Louise Windsor and Duchess Sophie visit The Wild Place Project at Bristol Zoo on July 23, 2019
Ainhoa Barcelona
Ainhoa BarcelonaContent Managing Editor
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The Duchess of Edinburgh is on an emotive trip to Ethiopia, where she has been carrying out engagements that are dear to her heart.

Sophie, who is global ambassador for the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, is in the country to celebrate the work of eye care charity Orbis, ahead of World Sight Day on 12 October.

Sophie's daughter Lady Louise Windsor, now 19, underwent two life-altering surgeries to correct her vision as a child, so this is no doubt a cause that strikes a chord with the royal mum.

The Duchess of Edinburgh visits the Sabacare IDP Camp in Ethiopia© UNICEF Ethiopia 2023 Demissew Bizuwerk
The Duchess of Edinburgh visits the Sabacare IDP Camp in Ethiopia

Later this week, Prince Edward's wife will visit a rural health clinic and hospital where sight-saving medical screenings and surgeries are carried out daily, with support from Orbis. The charity is committed to eliminating trachoma – the infectious and blinding eye disease in Ethiopia. 

Sophie will meet specialists, case workers, and government representatives who are working together to deliver accessible services to those in need. She will also meet patients whose sight has been restored, and visit a school where children are learning how to protect themselves from trachoma through face washing and good hygiene practices.

The Duchess will later attend a conference where delegates from government, and the health and charitable sectors, will have the opportunity to exchange insights and chart the way forward to eliminating the blinding disease for good.

The Duchess of Edinburgh visits the Sabacare IDP Camp in Ethiopia© UNICEF Ethiopia 2023 Demissew Bizuwerk
The Duchess of Edinburgh visits the Sabacare IDP Camp in Ethiopia

Earlier this week, Sophie travelled north to Tigray where she championed another cause close to her heart – the prevention of conflict-related sexual violence. 

She saw the work of UNICEF in the region by visiting the Sabacare IDP Camp, which has a population of over 16,000 Internally Displaced Persons, the majority of whom are women and girls, and had the opportunity to meet children playing in a child-friendly space in the camp.

Duchess Sophie looked incredible as she arrived with her family to the King's coronation© Getty Images
Prince Edward and Sophie arrive at the King's coronation with their two children Louise and James

Sophie herself shares two children with Prince Edward. Her daughter Lady Louise, who attends the University of St Andrews, was born with a rare eye condition called esotropia, which causes a squint in one eye that turns inwards, according to the NHS. The condition affects two per cent of the population.

At 18 months old, Lady Louise underwent surgery to correct her vision. Unfortunately, this was unsuccessful. "Her squint was quite profound when she was tiny," Sophie previously told the Sunday Express. "And it takes time to correct it. You've got to make sure one eye doesn’t become more dominant than the other."

Lady Louise went on to have a second procedure in 2014, when she was ten years old, and her vision was overhauled. "She's fine now – her eyesight is perfect," Sophie added.

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