The Royal Review: the Royal Family’s other engagements 7-13th April

Wine and horse riding for Princess Anne in Sussex

On Wednesday 9th Princess Anne was in Sussex where she opened a new wine processing plant and visited Hope in the Valley Riding for the Disabled Association.

At Rathfinny Wine Estate’s new wine processing plant in Alfriston, East Sussex, the Princess officially opened the new bottling and cellar buildings.

Rathfinny produces wine from grapes grown on its 210 acre vineyard. The winery is preparing to produce its first range of sparkling wine, and the new multi-million pound facility will provide space to bottle up to 80,000 cases annually.

The Royal greeted staff and discussed viniculture, before unveiling a plaque to officially open the view buildings.

As President of the Riding for the Disabled Association, The Princess Royal also joined the Hope in the Valley group in celebrating their 50th anniversary at Plumpton College.

After presenting commemorative rosettes to 17 Hope in the Valley riders, Anne smiled as two long-serving ponies received rewards and presented an award to Margaret Fogg for 35 years of service.

Princess Anne told those gathered: “RDA Groups, like Hope in the Valley, that have kept going for 50 years have seen a lot of change, and this birthday demonstrates the supreme dedication of the volunteers and organisers behind it.

“It’s a pleasure to see the parents here also showing a commitment that makes such a difference. It is a real achievement that we are celebrating today.”

Princess Anne reopens D-Day museum in Portsmouth

On Friday, The Princess Royal visited Barton-on-Sea to christen ‘Susan Mary’, Lymington SailAbility’s Wheelyboat and was in Portsmouth to re-open the D-Day museum.

Lymington SailAbility was founded in 1996, since when, the group has introduced a large number of disabled people to boating. The new boat, Susan Mary, can take four wheelchairs at a time and the power boat can also be driven by a wheelchair user.

During her visit, Princess Anne, who is president of the Royal Yachting Association, spoke to Lymington SailAbility members and those who had helped fund the boat.

Before carrying out the naming ceremony, she congratulated everyone involved in SailAbility for the number of opportunities available for people to experience sailing and boating. She said it was a great pleasure to name Susan Mary and added that it will be an “enormous addition” to the charity’s fleet.

Sue Collingridge, former vice-chairman of Lymington SailAbility, donated a significant sum towards the funding of the boat, which is named after her. “I had so much fun with Sailability and it made such a difference to my life,” she said.

“When I had the opportunity to do give something back, I just had to do it. I’m dying to go out in the oat. Being out on the water is a marvelous feeling and it gives you great freedom to do something you didn’t think you were ever going to do.

“To see it going down Lymington River makes me so proud.”

It has taken the charity around 18 months to gather the £36,000 required to buy the new accessible boat.

Later, in Portsmouth, Princess Anne officially opened the D-Day Story, in Southsea. At the opening, The Queen’s daughter unveiled a plaque to mark the occasion and was given a tour of the museum after its £5m revamp.

Anne met museum volunteers, staff and those who helped make the multi-million pound upgrade a reality, as well as veterans from Portsmouth who risked their lives to take part in the pivotal invasion, on 6th June 1944.

Speaking to the crowd moments after completing her tour and unveiling the new plaque, the Princess said she was impressed by the overhauled museum.

She said: ‘This is a museum that has already set some standards in terms of telling the story but this really does up the ante in terms of the way it has been put together. You have all those personal stories. These were the people who made D-Day special and that’s a very tricky mix as a museum and I do think that is done particularly well here.”

The attraction is the only one in Britain dedicated to the D-Day invasion.

Among the veterans present was Arthur Bailey, who landed on Gold Beach. He was asked by the royal visitor about his role during the Normandy invasion.

The 94-year-old, of Cosham, said: “It was very nice indeed to meet The Princess Royal. I was so surprised. She was such a lovely woman. I was thrilled to bits to come and meet her.:

RAF veteran Stan Hartill, 97, of Bournemouth, served as ground crew during the Battle of Britain and later helped set up the first runway for Spitfires to land in Normandy. Reflecting on his D-Day story, he said: “When we sailed from Gosport the morale was so high because we thought: “this is it, we’re going to finish it after so many years”.

“We didn’t want it to drag on for another 10 years. We wanted to get it finished, beat the Germans and come back home – and we did a bloody good job of it too!”

Heritage minister Michael Ellis said: “D-Day was one of the most significant operations of the Second World War. It paved the way for the Allied victory in Europe. I am delighted that this exhibition, supported by National Lottery players, is preserving the extraordinary stories behind this pivotal moment in British history.”

Princess Anne takes salute in Hyde Park

The Princess Royal today took a salute in Hyde Park on Cavalry memorial Sunday; she performed this role as colonel of the Blues and Royals.

The Annual Parade and Service of The Combined Cavalry Old Comrades Association is a tribute to those members of the British and Commonwealth Cavalry who have given their lives in service of their country.

The Countess on the coast: Sophie at at eye care unit & emergency centre

The Countess of Wessex began her eventful week with a trip to Southlands, Shoreham-by-the-Sea, to open a new eye care clinic at Southlands Hospital on Tuesday 8th May. Officially known as the Western Sussex Eye Care Unit, this centre was devised to provide patients with an all-inclusive facility that will aid in minimising their number of visits to the hospital. Complete with two specialty ophthalmic operating theatres and over 50 specialists in eye care on staff, this new unit for day surgery has been able to provide services for around 3,000 patients per month.

In addition to touring the new site, Sophie enjoyed the chance to meet with some of the staff as well as patients, volunteers, and supporters of the hospital. The Countess then unveiled the commemorative placque and officially declared the new ophthalmology centre open.

Amongst the patients who had the opportunity to meet The Countess, was 82-year-old Edith Bain. Edith had been blind in one of her eyes for 70 years before receiving treatment at the centre, which resulted in her vision being restored.

Mrs. Bain shared her feelings on this miracle: “The Western Sussex Eye Care service is absolutely marvellous and for me it was nothing short of life-changing. Before my operation, I was often nervous but now I have a new lease of life. Thank you.”

The Countess of Wessex received a lovely welcome from Dr. Masoud Teimory, head of department and Marianne Griffiths, CEO of Western Sussex. Ms. Griffiths explained : ” Ophthalmology is one of our trusts busiest services and this wonderful new facility helps our specialist teams to provide some of the very best quality of eye care in the country.”

The Countess arriving at the new Emergency Centre in Crawley. Photo courtesy of SEC Ambulance

For her second event of the day, the Countess journeyed to the town of Crawley to open the new Emergency Operations Centre and Headquarters for the South East Coast Ambulance Service.

After flying in by helicopter, The Countess of Wessex was greeted by the head boy and girl of the Harwick School and then made her way by car to the new centre. Quite a few local leaders as well as a large contingent of the centre’s employees were on hand to offer Sophie an altogether gracious welcome.

The Countess enjoyed the opportunity to discuss the intricacies of the staff’s various jobs, which include 999 dispatchers, clinicians, and emergency advisors. Sophie was also given a tour of the state-of-the-art facilities by Mrs. Susan Pyper, Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex.

Sophie opening new Emergency Centre. Photo courtesy of SEC Ambulance

With the opening of the new building, all support services are now able to be combined in the same building, which will help to better manage future and also current demand, generally around 2,500 calls a day.

SEC Ambulance Chief Executive Daren Mochrie commented: “The day gave us an opportunity to pay tribute to all those who contribute to making this building a reality and I’d like to thank the Countess and everyone for coming to meet staff and see the amazing work they do day-in, day-out.

“Without them, of course, this is just another building. With them, and their dedication and professionalism, we are a service which saves lives and helps people everyday.”

The Countess of Wessex in Crawley. Photo courtesy of SEC Ambulance

The Countess of Wessex’s final engagement of the day was in Chichester, to open the new Dementia Support Community Hub, Sage House. Sage House will offer a variety of services needed by not only dementia sufferers but their relatives and caretakers as well. The mission of the hub is to vastly improve the well-being and quality of life for individuals fighting the grip of dementia. By offering the most up-to-date, advanced information, advice, and support, Sage House aims to be the cornerstone that helps dementia sufferers throughout every phase of their arduous journey. Currently, it is estimated that 14,820 people are living with some stage of dementia in West Sussex alone, with an expected 26% increase by 2021.

After proclaiming Sage House’s Dementia Hub officially opened and unveiling the centre’s commemorative plaque, The Queen’s daughter-in-law was then given a tour of the facilities, thus finishing up an exceedingly full schedule of events for the day.

Asian Women of Achievement Awards Dinner for The Countess of Wessex

On the evening of 9th May, The Countess of Wessex, in her role as Ambassador of the Women of the Future Programme, attended the 19th Annual Asian Women of Achievement Awards Dinner at the London Hilton, Mayfair.

Founded in 1999, by Pinky Lilani CBE DL, these achievement awards honour the extraordinary Asian women throughout the UK, whose worthwhile and significant contributions have had significant impact on British life. In addition to receiving the awards, the evening provided an opportunity for the ladies to network with one another and build business contacts. As a direct result of the awards, numerous programmes and initiatives have been developed to help increase the number of  opportunities available for women in the future.

In a lighthearted moment, The Countess joked with the audience: “Before anyone asks me, yes, I’m looking forward to the wedding, yes, I have my outfit, and no, I haven’t met Prince Louis… yet!”

Sophie supports blind walk across the country

Finishing off her rigorous week of engagements, The Countess of Wessex helped to raise awareness for individuals dealing with sight loss by participating in the Big Blind Walk on 11th May. Founded by Julian Jackson, the Big Blind Walk consists of a 1000-mile journey across the UK from Land’s End to John O’Groats, in an effort to bring attention to the need for increased funding for eye research.

In her role as Global Ambassador for the International agency for the Prevention of Blindness and Patron of Vision, the Countess is devoted to her mission of eliminating avoidable blindness and helping to get increased monetary support for eye research.

Sophie helped to guide Julian on his route into Stroud, he placing his hand on her shoulder to carry on the walk.

Mr. Jackson has received a tremendous outpouring of support and many offers to join him on his trek across the UK. He is being joined at different points along his route by individuals from all four corners of the nation, including Buddhist Monks in Carlisle and soldiers in Scotland. Julian himself has lost his sight due to a currently-untreatable and incurable retinal disease that he inherited, so he has experienced first hand the immense need for research. Eye care and treatment is close to Sophie’s heart as her daughter, Lady Louise has dealt with issues regarding her sight as well.

Sophie shared: “I’m very involved with issues of sight loss so, if you could imagine walking a marathon every day for seven weeks bar four days for rest – it’s just one of the most extraordinary things someone can do.”

Mr. Jackson began his journey on 29th April and is hoping to reach his goal of completing his odyssey around 22nd June.

Prince Edward sees real tennis and Jockey Club

The Earl of Wessex was quite busy himself this week. The Prince travelled to Suffolk on Thursday 10th May, where in his role as Trustee of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, he visited Castle Manor Academy, Haverhill. He received a warm welcome from the Academy’s students as well as the Deputy Lieutenant of Suffolk, Mr. George Vestey.

The Earl enjoyed a tour of Castle Manor and experienced the school’s operations first hand. Prince Edward spent part of his morning chatting with the pupils and was shown some of the school’s outdoor sustainability projects. In addition to raised bed gardens for fruits, herbs, and vegetables, there is another section of the garden area dedicated to raising chickens – complete with chicken coops.

Prince Edward’s second stop for the day was an appearance at the Newmarket Real Tennis Club, as part of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Real Tennis Tour 2018. Edward – a keen real tennis player himself – was met by Mr. Andrew Merriam, Deputy Lieutenant of Suffolk upon his arrival. Students from a number of schools and centres in the surrounding area, joined together to share in a day full of real tennis and fun. The tour was created to try and raise money for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Charity in the hopes that by providing children with a variety of different programmes, they will in turn enlist the next generation into participating. The programmes help children to gain life experiences as they grow into young adults through sport, volunteering, and expedition.

The Earl’s final engagement of the day was a dinner held at The Jockey Club Rooms in Newmarket. The Queen’s youngest son was received at the dinner by Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Suffolk, Clare, Countess of Euston. In British horse racing, The Jockey Club is the largest commercial group, consisting of a number of different racecourses. Their aim is to safeguard that horse racing remains the finest sport in the world.

Day in Ipswich for the Earl

Friday found The Earl of Wessex spending time in Ipswich, where he met with local youth and enjoyed a reception at Birketts Solicitors.

Prince Edward was provided with the chance to spend time with the young people of the community and discuss with them their many concerns about various issues that plague the local community. A large concern for these teenagers deals with accessible health and sexual health drop-in centres for adolescents. The local charities in Ipswich have played a vital role in making a difference in the lives and overall well-being of the city’s youth. Charities such as Porch Project, 4YP, Inspire Suffolk, and the Bangladesh Support Centre have helped local young people in all aspects of their lives, whether it be emotional, physical health, or even socially, the support these teens receive enables them to stay on the positive path of life and to become successful adults.

The Earl then made his way to the Birketts Solicitors where a reception was held and Prince Edward was able to conclude this week’s engagement schedule.


Duke of Kent honours war dead

The Duke of Kent laid two wreaths in France this week in his capacity as President of The Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The two wreaths were laid at the Cross of Sacrifice, Étaples Military Cemetery and at the Stone of Remembrance, Terlincthun British Cemetery, Hameau de Terlincthun on 10th May. Prince Edward also visited Wimereux Communal Cemetery.

On Monday 7th, The Queen’s cousin made a trip to Westminster City School, before attending a medal ceremony at St. James’s Palace, in his capacity as Royal Patron of the British-German Association.

 Princess Alexandra commemorates Florence Nightingale

Princess Alexandra, Royal Patron of the Florence Nightingale Foundation, attended a Service of Commemoration at Westminster Abbey on Wednesday 9th May, where she remembered the life of Florence Nightingale and paid tribute to nursing and midwifery staff across the UK. The service was conducted by the Dean of Westminster.

In his bidding, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall said: “We thank God for Florence Nightingale: for her enterprise and heroism, and for the example she has left us. We pray that her ideals of compassion, quality of care, and training may continue to inspire and sustain nurses everywhere. We praise God for all those nurses who, like her, have carried the lamp of healing into the dark places of our world.”

Princess Alexandra attends a service @wabbey commemorating the life of Florence Nightingale and celebrate nursing and midwifery staff

Princess Alexandra attends a service Westminster Abbey to commemorate the life of Florence Nightingale and celebrate nursing and midwifery staff (royal family)

The following day, the Princess unveiled a plaque to celebrate 70 years of the Friends of the Eastbourne Hospital at Eastbourne District General Hospital, before visiting the Chaseley Trust Home, Eastbourne.

Alexandra has close links with the hospital, having officially opened it in 1977. She met friends and volunteers who help raise money and support the hospital, its patients and staff.

Harry Walmsley, Chairman of the Friends of Eastbourne Hospital said: “It is a great honour for the Friends to have Princess Alexandra visit and help us celebrate our 70th anniversary. The formation of the Friends slightly predates the start of the NHS by just three months. Since that time, countless local people have helped to support the Friends with their generous donations and gift of time to support our fund raising activities. We would like to thank everyone who has contributed, great or small, in the past and to those who will continue to do so in the future.”

Duke of Gloucester spends a day in Leominster

The Duke of Gloucester spent a busy day in Leominster on Thursday, where he visited Lucton School, Leominster Town and Brightwells Auctioneers Limited.

Upon arrival, he was greeted by the Mayor of Leominster, Roger Pendleton and met clergy and churchwardens as he praised the local church, saying that it looked new as it was so well preserved.

Once inside he met representatives from the Leominster Medieval Pageant, and was given a rendition of a new song about Herefordshire by children from nine local schools.

The Duke then moved on to visit The Grange, where he met volunteers. He also presented an MBE to Mike Thornhill, for services to the local community.

The Lord Lieutenant of Herefordshire, Lady Darnley remarked: “I know Mr Thornhill is the one to say this has been a team effort and a success for very many, which is why he asked to receive the medal here and not in London.

“Some ten years ago as chairman of Leominster Area Regeneration Committee, a position he held until 2013, Mr Thornhill pledged to buy this Grade II listed building from Herefordshire Council for the kingly sum of £1 and then to transform it from a neglected wreck into the community heritage centre we have today.”

The Duke of Gloucester praised Mr Thornhill, noting how he had changed an embarrassment for the town into an asset.



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