Duchess Sofia of Edinburgh made a trip to Iraq this week, where she held meetings with politicians and feminist activists in an unusual visit by a member of the British royal family to the war-scarred country, the Iraqi presidency said. The last time a British royal visited Iraq was in 2006, when the late Prince Philip visited a base for British troops deployed there as part of the US-led invasion three years earlier.
Duchess Sofia, wife of Prince Edward, younger brother of King Charles III, spent two days in Baghdad, where she met with President Abdul Latif Rashid and his wife Shanaz Ibrahim Ahmed, according to a statement issued by the Iraqi presidency.
The duchess’s visit was kept secret and ended on Tuesday. During her stay, she delivered a written message from King Charles III, who visited Iraq in 2004. She also met with Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al-Sudani.
In addition, the duchess delivered a speech at a conference on women’s rights organized by the British embassy in Baghdad, where she had the opportunity to meet with representatives of feminist groups, Buckingham Palace said Tuesday.
Notably, King Charles III granted Edward the title of Duke of Edinburgh in March, a title that previously belonged to his father, Prince Philip.
Iraq is still grappling with the aftermath of years of war, occupation, and sectarian violence following the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein. Duchess Sofia’s visit to Iraq shows an interest in strengthening ties and supporting the country’s development amid its reconstruction and reconciliation processes.
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