The Duchess of Edinburgh is currently on a heartfelt journey in Ethiopia, engaging in activities that hold special significance to her. Sophie, who serves as the global ambassador for the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, is in Ethiopia to commemorate the efforts of the eye care charity Orbis, in anticipation of World Sight Day on October 12th. Given that Sophie's daughter, Lady Louise Windsor, went through two significant surgeries during her childhood to improve her vision, this cause undoubtedly resonates deeply with the royal mother.
Later this week, Prince Edward's spouse is scheduled to visit a rural health clinic and hospital in Ethiopia, where they perform daily sight-saving medical screenings and surgeries with the support of Orbis. The organization is dedicated to eradicating trachoma, an infectious and sight-threatening eye disease, in Ethiopia.
During her visit, Sophie will have the chance to meet with specialists, case workers, and government officials who are collaboratively providing accessible services to those in need. Additionally, she will interact with patients whose vision has been restored and pay a visit to a school where children are being educated on safeguarding themselves from trachoma through practices like face washing and good hygiene.
Subsequently, the Duchess will participate in a conference, where representatives from the government, health sector, and charitable organizations will convene to share insights and chart the path towards permanently eliminating this blinding disease.
At the beginning of this week, Sophie journeyed to the northern region of Tigray, advocating for yet another cause that deeply resonates with her: the prevention of sexual violence related to conflict.
During her visit, she observed the efforts of UNICEF in the area by paying a visit to the Sabacare Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camp. This camp accommodates a population exceeding 16,000 individuals, predominantly consisting of women and girls. Additionally, she had the opportunity to interact with children who were enjoying their time in a child-friendly area within the camp.
Sophie and Prince Edward have two children together. Their daughter, Lady Louise, who is currently enrolled at the University of St Andrews, was born with a rare eye condition known as esotropia. This condition causes one eye to turn inward, resulting in a squint, as stated by the NHS. It's a condition that affects two percent of the population.
When Lady Louise was 18 months old, she underwent a surgical procedure in an attempt to correct her vision. Regrettably, this initial attempt was not successful. Sophie previously shared with the Sunday Express that, “Her squint was quite pronounced when she was very young, and it takes time to correct it. You've got to ensure that one eye doesn't become more dominant than the other.”
However, in 2014, when Lady Louise was ten years old, she underwent a second procedure, which proved to be transformative for her vision. Sophie noted, “She's perfectly fine now, her eyesight is flawless.”