Sophie Wessex returns to royal duties with overseas visit for cause close to her heart


The Countess of Wessex is visiting Qatar this week with eyesight charity Orbis as part of her role as global ambassador for the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB). Sophie, who is passionate about eradicating avoidable blindness, arrived in the country on Monday in what is the first royal overseas trip of the year.

During her visit, the Countess will meet organisations and charities championing eye healthcare programmes in support of the IAPB’s ‘2030 in Sight’ plan to end avoidable sight loss.

On Tuesday, Prince Edward’s wife met Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The pair discussed developments in the Qatar Creating Vision initiative to get children back to school across India and Bangladesh through eye screenings and treatments.

During the trip, Sophie will also meet Afghan women evacuees to hear more about the peacekeeping roles they play in their communities and Qatari women in leadership positions.

The Countess has been a global ambassador for the IAPB since 2003.

In 2013, she travelled to India and Qatar with Orbis where she saw the global issues around preventable blindness.

And to mark World Sight Day in 2020, Sophie hosted an IAPBB virtual meeting with the Queen.

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She said: “Premature babies can often have squints because the eyes are the last thing in the baby package to really be finalised.

“Her squint was quite profound when she was tiny and it takes time to correct it.

“You’ve got to make sure one eye doesn’t become more dominant than the other but she’s fine now – her eyesight is perfect.”

Sophie’s visit to Qatar comes after her Christmas break from royal duties.

The Countess was last seen attending church on Christmas Day at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle with the Earl.

Sophie looked smart in a long black wool coat and leopard print hat for the morning outing.


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