In a historic moment for the UK royal family, Sophie, the duchess of Edinburgh, embarked on an unprecedented journey to Baghdad, with the aim of providing support to victims of sexual violence.
Over the course of two days, she immersed herself in the bustling Iraqi capital, paying a visit to a girls’ school and engaging in meaningful discussions with the country’s president and prime minister. Due to security concerns, the trip was kept under wraps until her arrival.
At the annual Women’s Voices First Conference, the duchess took the stage to deliver a powerful speech, championing female participation in peace-building efforts. This marked a significant milestone as she became the first member of the British royal family to grace Baghdad with her presence, earning commendation from UK Ambassador to Iraq, Mark Bryson-Richardson.
Sophie, known for her unwavering dedication to gender equality on a global scale, had previously unveiled a scheme in support of the UN’s women, peace, and security mission on International Women’s Day in 2019.
During her visit to Hitten Girls’ School in Baghdad, she engaged in conversations about education and aspirations with the students, emphasizing the importance of empowering young women. The duchess also seized the opportunity to meet prominent female business leaders and made a visit to a family planning center, further underscoring her commitment to advancing women’s rights.
In a meeting with President Abdul Latif Rashid, she conveyed warm regards from King Charles, while Iraq’s First Lady, Shanaz Ibrahim Ahmed, joined the gathering. Bryson-Richardson hailed this visit as a testament to the robust bilateral relationship between the UK and Iraq, highlighting the strength it symbolizes.
Although other members of the British royal family, including King Charles himself, have previously made visits to Iraq, it is Sophie’s groundbreaking trip to Baghdad that marks an extraordinary milestone. While earlier visits centered around British troops stationed in Basra during the Iraq war, her presence in the capital signifies a new chapter of support and solidarity with the Iraqi people.