On Monday morning, The Countess of Wessex kicked off her involvement in The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) engagements in London by becoming Buckingham Palace’s glamorous new gardener!
Sophie was joined by ‘This Morning’ presenter Eamonn Holmes in the Buckingham Palace garden to plant a white elm tree; the planting was shown live on the popular TV programme. Sophie planted the tree in honour of The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy and to mark the 25th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
The Countess put other gardeners in wellies and coats to shame by wearing an Erdem floral print pencil dress and black wedged shoes. Discussing her outfit, Sophie joked: “Normally I am teetering across wearing very high heels and not geared up for gardening. I thought I wouldn’t break with tradition today and do the same again!”
The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy (QCC) project seeks to preserve precious areas of forest for future generations through a network of forest conservation initiatives. The QCC was established at the CHOGM in Malta back in 2015 and involves all 53 Commonwealth nations.
The Countess of Wessex also disclosed to This Morning viewers that she has used the Buckingham Palace garden to exercise when trying to keep fit, adding that her children have also enjoyed the garden during school holidays. Sophie has two children, Louise and James, with her husband The Earl of Wessex. Louise is particularly close to her grandfather, The Duke of Edinburgh, due to the pair’s shared love of carriage racing.
Later in the day, the Countess attended a reception at Tower Bridge in her role as Vice-Patron of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust. The special event was held to mark the organisation’s efforts in bringing vision to everyone across the Commonwealth, something she had highlighted on a recent trip to Bangladesh. Sophie made a speech discussing the Trust’s work, saying: “The results have far reaching implications which, while saving sight, also affects people’s ability to function, to work, to feed their families.”
The trust believe that without action, as the population of the Commonwealth grows and ages, the number of people who are blind or suffer from poor vision is to triple by 2050. This is a cause which is very close to Sophie’s heart, as Louise suffered from sight problems and had to go undergo surgery to correct them.
The Countess of Wessex also held a meeting at Buckingham Palace as patron of The Scar Free Foundation on Monday. The aim of The Scar Free Foundation is to achieve scar-free healing within a generation and transform the lives of those affected by disfiguring conditions.
On Tuesday (17th) Prince Edward’s wife attended The Vote 100 Women in Business Summit at the Royal Garden Hotel, Kensington, in her capacity as a Global Ambassador of 100 Women in Finance, and Chairman of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Women’s Network Forum. The summit brought together a platform of distinguished women, drawn from a range of business sectors, to discuss key issues facing British business today, including the critical importance of diversity in the boardroom and among senior management.
Great to see the WBC’s Cilla Snowball, Jill Shedden, Wendy Hallett, Sue O’Brien, Denis Woulfe with HRH the Countess of Wessex on the importance of gender parity in business at the Vote 100 Women in Business Summit. Find out more at https://t.co/ljkRimUWNX #WBCaction pic.twitter.com/ZSRqxgapqO
— Women and Equalities (@WomenEqualities) April 18, 2018
The Vote 100 Women in Business Summit video will soon be live! A special thank you to: Women’s Network Forum, @WomenEqualities Women’s Business Council, @UNWomenUK @100WomenFinance Sponsor: @SiLeadership #PowerfulWomen pic.twitter.com/OjDGNyGho0
— City & Financial (@cfconferences) April 20, 2018
As 2018 is the centenary of the 1918 “Representation of the People Act”, which gave some women the vote for the first time in the UK, the conference opened with a session discussing how female leadership has changed over the last century.
Sophie gave the opening keynote speech, followed by The Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury. In the evening, The Countess of Wessex attended a dinner at Fishmongers Hall, London Bridge.
The Queen’s daughter-in-law has also been involved in other engagements to mark the CHOGM; last night, Sophie attended the CHOGM dinner which was held at Buckingham Palace with Prince Edward.
Today (Friday 20th), Sophie headed to Kew Gardens for a spouses of Commonwealth leaders event.
She joined Philip May, husband of British Prime Minister Theresa May, for a tour of the gardens, and visited the Princess of Wales conservatory, which was created in memorial to the late Diana.
The Queen’s daughter-in-law was then joined by a group of school children who watched as she helped to plant the Copper Beech tree in the grounds of the former Georgian royal residence.