I’m afraid it’s my final decision. It took me a long time to come to this place and accept this fact, but here it is.
If you want to tackle issues like women’s empowerment, equality and support system for those who are being ignored, then be inclusive to everyone.
You do not cut the wings of the one person who supported you without any hidden motives, with utmost respect, and who did a Diamond Challenge as THE ONLY royal blogger and received a Diamond Pin to support causes close to your heart.
I wanted to thank all my readers, who’ve been with me for all this time and read and supported me in this task. Which, as you know, was at times very difficult. I did my best for more than 5 years but my pink glasses has been lost and I cannot find them no more.
Thank you to THE ONE person who fully grasped what I was trying to do and achieve and supported me in this task, for as long as could…
But, all good things come to an end.
If you don’t want to part ways with me, my style of writing and be a bit closer to my inner world, do check my LP Blog, dedicated to an artist I’ve been admiring for a long time. This admiration lead to better understanding of who I am and what I want to do with my life and free time that I’ve been so generously giving away.
I’ve closed all my royal social media even though they were close to 10.000…
For now this blog will stay online, but I’m going to close it at some point as well.
The Countess of Wessex has started her 3rd day of visit to India at the permanent 26/11 memorial at the iconic Taj Mahal Palace & Tower lobby. The memorial has the names of the thirty one fallen inscribed as a permanent homage to those brave and innocent people.
The 2008 Mumbai attacks (also referred to as 26/11) were a group of terrorist attacks that took place in November 2008, when 10 members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, an Islamic terrorist organisation based in Pakistan, carried out a series of 12 coordinated shooting and bombing attacks lasting four days across Mumbai.
Taj Mahal Palace Hotel was specifically chosen by Lashkar-e-Taiba, a terror group who attacked multiple targets, for an attack so that it will be “striking a blow against a symbol of Indian wealth and progress”. The Countess laid a wreath with personal message at the Memorial to remember the victims of Mumbai terror attacks.
Later, on day three of her tour of India to see the work of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex saw how two Queen’s Young Leaders are transforming women’s health across the country.
First, HRH visited Sassoon Dock fish market with OSCAR Foundation co-founder, Ashok Shankar Rathod. Many of the families of young boys and girls supported by the Foundation work here in very challenging circumstances. The foundation is working to give them better opportunities.
OSCAR Foundation (Organization for Social Change, Awareness and Responsibility) is a non-profit organisation that, through football instils the value of education and empowers underprivileged children and youth with life skills to take responsibility of their community development.
Ashok Shankar Rathod along with two other founding members started the OSCAR Foundation in 2006. OSCAR runs a unique programme that not only teaches the sport to children and youth but also helps them to understand the value of education.
Then, Sophie visited The Oscar Foundation in the Ambedkar Nagar Community. At the Foundation’s computer centre in the Community HRH was reunited with some of the girls she first met when she hosted them at the Windsor Castle during their #Kicklikeagirl UK tour last year.
Next, The Countess visited a Sir Elly Kadoorie School where Sophie met Queen’s Young Leader, Deane de Menezes, whose project ‘Red is the new Green’ aims to destigmatise menstruation, improve access to menstrual hygiene and ultimately prevent female absenteeism in schools.
In India, it is estimated that over 23 million girls each year drop out of school early due to lack of menstrual hygiene facilities and the stigma surrounding menstruation. Sir Elly Kadoorie School is one of 30 locations where Deane is working.
There, The Countess met girls and their mothers who have benefited from awareness raising sessions that Deane’s organisation provides and was shown the low-cost sanitary towel vending machines and incinerators which have helped to bring about a reduction in female absenteeism.
The Countess was also presented with a period pouch which are given to girls at her training sessions to provide them with somewhere clean and safe to keep their pads.
The Countess then visited Apnalaya health centre. Apnalaya, (Our Space in English), is a non-profit organization, founded in 1973 by Tom Holland. There Sophie met Queen’s Young Leader Aditya Kulkarni whose pioneering ‘Care Mother’ antenatal app has helped to reduce maternal and child mortality rates in India.
On a walk to his clinic through one of the largest slums in India, Aditya told The Countess about his project. Globally, around 800 women die every day of preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth, and 20 per cent of these cases are in India.
Aditya co-created “CareMother”, a mobile and online platform which enables health workers to provide pregnant women who would otherwise not have been reached with antenatal check-ups at their homes.
The Countess met health workers and mothers, and heard how the app has helped women from disadvantaged communities in India access antenatal care. Within the last two years, Aditya and his team have provided affordable care to more than 30,000 pregnant women in over 800 villages in India, Bangladesh and Kenya.
At the Centre, The Countess spoke with health workers who use CareMother daily to monitor the health of expectant mothers, as well as women who have used the app to monitor their pregnancy.
Apnalaya works with the most marginalized people living in highly under-served slums of Mumbai. The infant mortality rate in the area is 55, while the national rate is 41. Every second child is underweight. 88% of pregnant women in 2015-16 were anaemic. 53% girls do not have more than eight years of education.
68% of the families in the area buy drinking water. Only 13.7% females and 54.6% males are employed with majority working as casual labour. The average monthly income of a family is INR 7,802, i.e., about US$ 121 (From Life on the Margin: Charting Realities, Apnalaya Studies, Series I).
For press release about Sophie’s Day 3 of visit to India by Diamond Jubilee Trust click here, for quite detailed Daily Mail’s coverage click here. I will correct the order of visits after CC will become available. I’m working with very limited information.
On the second day of her visit to India (30th April), The Countess of Wessex as Vice-Patron of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, in the morning visited the Niloufer Hospital which cares for over 10,000 preterm babies each year.
This institution was founded in 1949 by the Princess Niloufer. Princess Niloufer was the daughter of king of Ottoman Empire and was married to prince Moazzam Jah- son of the last Asaf Jahi ruler in 1931.
Just like Florence nightingale, the princess had a liking to serve the poor and also took to serving the poor as a nurse. In 1949, one of the princess’ maids died during childbirth due to lack of medical facilities.
On hearing this news, the princess was very shattered. She then decided to ensure that no mother faces death hereafter. Princess Niloufer made known to her father-in-law the problems arising due to this lack of medical facilities.
Established in 1953 as a 100 bedded hospital, presently it has bed strength of 500 with advanced maternity, pediatric, pediatric surgery supported by excellent diagnostic facilities.
With about 300 births a day (they claim the highest) the staff take ROP seriously & ensuring eye screening happens where and when needed.
Before the Trust’s programme launched in 2015, there were no screening & treatment services for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) at Niloufer Hospital. Today, all preterm babies born at the hospital are screened for ROP as part of their standard care.
During her visit, The Countess of Wessex met mothers and their babies in the Kangaroo Care Ward. HRH learnt more of the care given to premature babies and how and when they are screened and treated for retinopathy of prematurity.
Sophie also met parents and children affected by ROP at a support group, including 3 year old Rishita, who was born at just 28 weeks weighing 650g, along with Dr Yadaiah who battled to save Rishita’s life and later her sight when she developed ROP.
During her visit to the hospital, The Countess saw the impact of programmes supported by The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, which includes training modules and education to improve quality of preterm care in neonatal intensive care units and ongoing support groups for parents who have a child affected by Retinopathy of prematurity, a condition exclusive to premature babies which can lead to irreversible blindness without treatment.
The Countess of Wessex donated two Forus NEOs to Niloufer Hospital and Ghandia Hospital. The donation came on behalf of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, with eight more NEOs set to be donated to other government hospitals across the country.
Speaking about the Trust’s work in India, the Countess said:
We have come a long way from identifying Retinopathy of Prematurity (RoP) as our area of focus to seeing the region-wide change that the Trust has been able to bring about with different stakeholders. The technology is available and the capability of people is clearly visible. What is needed now to treat avoidable blindness in pre-term babies is to upscale work already being done by eye care specialists.
In the afternoon, Her Royal Highness attended a Meeting with Sri Shailendra Kumar Joshi (Chief Secretary to the Government of Telangana) at Telangana Secretariat, Hyderabad. I cannot find anything about this meeting.
In the evening, The Countess of Wessex attended a Welcome Dinner at the Chambers of Taj Palace Hotel in Mumbai. Dinner was hosted by Crispin Simon – British Deputy High Commissioner in Mumbai/Western India.
Yesterday, 29th April, The Countess of Wessex has started her visit to India as Vice Patron of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust. It is HRH’s final overseas tour as Vice-Patron ahead of the Trust’s planned closure in January 2020.
During her visit, The Countess will see how the work of the charitable foundation has supported to tackle avoidable blindness in babies born prematurely and hear about the impact of programmes successfully launched by Queen’s Young Leaders.
Her Royal Highness is visiting Hyderabad, Mumbai and New Delhi from Monday 29th April to Friday 3rd May. Yesterday in the morning HRH arrived at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad. Mr Alexander Stonor is in attendance.
Upon the arrival, HRH was received by Mr Andrew Fleming (British Deputy High Commissioner to the Republic of India). The Countess later attended a Reception at the Taj Krishna Hotel in Hyderabad.
On her first day, The Countess of Wessex visited two hospitals across Hyderabad to see first-hand the work the Trust has helped to establish to prevent premature babies from losing their sight.
Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) is a major cause of childhood blindness affecting thousands of preterm babies born in India – home to the highest number of preterm births in the world.
First, HRH visited Gandhi Medical College and Hospital to see the Special Newborn Care Unit. Gandhi Medical College, originally named People’s Medical College, was founded on 14 September 1954.
At Gandhi The Countess watched the ROP screening programme in action. Premature babies are often given oxygen in the incubator to survive, but too much oxygen is highly toxic and can lead to total and irreversible sight loss.
At the Special Unit, The Countess saw babies being carefully monitored to prevent ROP. HRH met with ophthalmologists, paediatricians and nurses who have all been trained under the Trust’s programme to provide the high level of care required to prevent blindness occurring in these early and most fragile days of life.
Screening for retinopathy of prematurity should continue every 1-2 weeks until the risk has passed or the baby receives urgent treatment. The Countess visited mothers & their babies who are being carefully monitored by health professionals at Gandhi Medical College & Hospital.
In the afternoon The Countess visited LV Prasad Eye Institute – a Centre of Excellence in the prevention of blindness. The Institute was established in 1987 as a not-for-profit, non-government eye care institution.
The mission of LVPEI is to provide “equitable and efficient eye care to all sections of society.” There Sophie re-met with Dr Jalali, Dr who to date has saved the sight of over 20,000 babies, & spoke about the improvements that have come about to save the sight of thousands of preterm babies across India.
Dr Subhadra Jalali is a world leader in ROP who has been instrumental in the delivery of the Trust’s programme She is training teams across the country and internationally.
Speaking to trainees at the hospital, The Countess said:
I had the pleasure of meeting Dr Jalali a few weeks ago in London. To come here and see for myself what you are doing, is fantastic… you are creating a lasting legacy. The Trust has always wanted a legacy that will last on into the future and this is what you are doing. It is going to have a huge impact on the lives of thousands of children long into the future.
From Maharashtra in the west down to Tamil Nadu in the south, LVPEI are training ophthalmologists, nurses and health staff across India to detect and treat ROP. That’s why HRH joined a video conference with staff from some of those regional hospitals to hear about their experiences.
The Countess also interacted with the Paediatric and the ROP team of LVPEI and discussed the way forward. Later Sophie attended a Lunch with staff and government officials at LV Prasad Eye Institute.
In the evening The Countess of Wessex attended a Reception at the Residence of the British Deputy High Commissioner to the Republic of India.
When last year Andrew Fleming was in Karimnagar, he promised India’s first cadre of trainee midwives a reception when they graduated. He wrote via Twitter: “Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine HRH The Countess of Wessex, in Hyderabad as Vice Patron of @qejubileetrust, would be Chief Guest. Thanks ma’am 🙏🏻.”
That’s why The Countess met the group of nurses, now trained specifically to deliver exceptional maternity care to women and newborns, at a reception hosted by Andrew Fleming.
The professional midwifery “Promise” programme has been created by The Fernandez Hospital’s Educational and Research Foundation, in partnership with the Government of Telangana (India) and UNICEF-Hyderabad (India).
Usually babies in India are delivered by trained nurses who perform a midwifery function. This group of women are the first dedicated professionally qualified midwives. It is a significant step in improving antenatal and maternity care.
Following on from the success of the programme, Fernandez Hospital Foundation is looking to expand the programme and India’s Central Government and the World Health Organisations are now looking to develop this model of care all across India.
I was so thrilled to see the work supported by @qejubileetrust in action today screening & saving premature babies’ sight from Retinopathy of Prematurity. Congratulations to @MoHFW_INDIA, @thePHFI & the Trust for creating this remarkable legacy for the people of India.
On her first day of visit to India, Sophie sent a personal message via Twitter: “I was so thrilled to see the work supported by @qejubileetrust in action today screening & saving premature babies’ sight from Retinopathy of Prematurity. Congratulations to @MoHFW_INDIA, @thePHFI & the Trust for creating this remarkable legacy for the people of India. – Sophie.”
For Royal Family coverage, click here. Diamond Jubilee Trust’s coverage is here. Lovely article about Sophie’s visit can be found here. Coverage by Daily Mail is here. Also great to see Tim Rooke with Sophie in India.
Outfit & jewellery:
New red blouse, I believe custom design by Aross Girl.
New trousers, cannot find those.
Tiffany ‘citrine’ earrings.
Citrine pendant by Heavenly Necklaces.
Skagen Nicoline watch.
Clutch bag by Sophie Habsburg.
New, Penelope Chilvers Jackie Leather Sandals.
Evening: Brooke Dress in Apple Green with Pale Blue Belt, by Aross Girl.
Earrings seen before, no ID.
Citrine necklace by Heavenly Necklaces.
Tiffany T bracelet.
Skagen Nicoline watch
Clutch by Sophie Habsburg in Lunatic style.
New, Tango suede shoe in TAN/ULTRAVIOLET by Penelope Chilvers.
On the 25th April, it has been announced that The Duke of York joined The Earl and Countess of Wessex as new Vice Presidents of the Royal Windsor Horse Show.
Their Royal Highnesses were photographed in the private grounds of Windsor Castle earlier this week as they posed for an official photo to commemorate their new roles, with two of The Queen’s Highland ponies, Lomond and Jubilee, who will take part in RWHS Pageant that will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Queen Victoria.
For the first time in its 76 year history, Royal Windsor Horse Show announced the appointment of three Royal Vice Presidents; HRH The Duke of York and TRHs The Earl and Countess of Wessex who will play a significant part in the event which takes place in the private grounds of Windsor Castle from 8 – 12 May. They join HM The Queen, Patron of the Show, and its President HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.
Simon Brooks-Ward, show director, said:
We are thrilled and honoured to announce our three royal vice presidents. Their active interest and participation in Britain’s largest horse show will be appreciated by all on the showground.
RWHS is located in the private grounds of Windsor Castle, the only time of year the grounds are opened up to the public. The annual Show combines the highest level of sporting action with an unforgettable shopping and gastronomic experience, and a host of thrilling live entertainment.
On the 24th April, The Countess of Wessex attended a 20th Anniversary Reception in memory of Jill Dando at the Royal Society in London. The Countess is a former trustee of the Jill Dando Fund. Jill Wendy Dando (9 November 1961 – 26 April 1999) was a British journalist, television presenter, and newsreader who was 1997 BBC Personality of the Year. At the time of her death, she was the presenter of the BBC programme Crimewatch.
On 26 April 1999, Dando was fatally shot outside her home in Fulham, London. A local man, Barry George, was convicted and imprisoned for the murder but was later acquitted after an appeal and retrial. Jill’s case remains open. After her death, Jill’s colleague Nick Ross proposed a memorial to her in the form of a new university institution in her name.
Ross had already conceived of crime science as a new discipline which distinguished itself from criminology by focusing on crime prevention, scientific methodology and multidisciplinary approach. He and Dando’s fiancé, Alan Farthing, established the Jill Dando Fund with the help of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens, the Countess of Wessex, and her family and friends.
After the Jill Dando Fund was set up, the UCL was selected to host the Jill Dando Institute. The JDI came into being on the 26th April 2001, the second anniversary of Jill Dando’s death, under the inaugural Directorship of Professor Gloria Laycock. In 2009, the Department of Security and Crime Science was established in order to facilitate the offering of post-graduate taught and research courses. The JDI is the first institute in the world devoted to crime science.
Speaking at the event, Nick Ross said:
Jill was, quite simply, the most popular woman on television, and she was a fabulous colleague. There has been a blaze of publicity this month, much about Jill’s murder, but tonight our sole purpose is to celebrate her life and her remarkable legacy; a major department in UCL, a world-class university, that bears her name.
More than a million people gave to the Jill Dando Fund 20 years ago. Their generosity has led to the creation of one of the largest academic institutions in the world devoted to crime reduction. The Jill Dando Institute for Security and Crime Science at UCL now has over 30 staff and dozens of researchers trying to forestall tomorrow’s crimes. Jill has left behind a legacy of which everyone can be proud.
For full press release about the event, click here. Daily Mail’s coverage can be found here. Hello’s coverage is here. For BBC News article from 15th March 2000 about setting up the Jill Dando Fund, click here.
Afterwards, as Patron of British Bobsleigh & Skeleton Association, The Countess attended a Fundraising Dinner at Boisdale Restaurant at Canary Wharf in London. Gala Dinner organized by The Membership Committee of the British Bobsleigh & Skeleton Association to celebrate the success of the 4-man Bobsleigh team from the Sochi Olympics and to raise funds for the Youth and Para sections of our sports.
The evening also supported the growth of Para Bobsleigh programme for athletes with disabilities. After British Bobsleigh & Skeleton on Facebook:
This time yesterday we were celebrating the Sochi Olympic 4️⃣ man success with a host of 🏅 winning athletes & coaches, some old friends & some new, plus our patron, HRH The Countess of Wessex GCVO.
A great night at Boisdale Restaurants, with plenty of smiles & no shortage of pics that we’ll share over the coming days.
The British Bobsleigh & Skeleton Association is the main sports governing body for bobsleigh and skeleton in the United Kingdom. The British are credited to be the founders of competitive bobsleigh, which became an Olympic sport in 1924, and also had an important part to play in developing the sport of skeleton, which evolved from the famous Cresta Run, and became an Olympic sport in 2002.
Outfit & jewellery:
Alaia, ‘Scalloped metallic stretch-knit’ midi dress.
Earrings seen before, no ID.
Halcyon Days ‘Maya’ bracelet.
Watch by Chanel.
Jimmy Choo Cayla clutch-bag.
Black or dark navy suede pumps, possibly Prada or Manolo’s.
Today, 24th April, The Countess of Wessex as Honorary Air Commodore of Royal Air Force Wittering, visited the Station in Peterborough. During her visit, HRH opened one of three new centenary play parks in RAF Wittering village. The parks are part of the RAF Benevolent Fund’s Airplay youth support scheme – supporting children on RAF stations.
After Raf Wittering: “2019 is the centenary of the RAF Benevolent Fund which provides real life support to RAF personnel, their families and veterans in need. The refurbished play parks have been funded by the RAF Benevolent Fund and the £196K grant is the largest to have been given this year.”
HRH also met with six youth members of RAF Wittering community team who talked about their involvement with the project. The new park was inspired by designs from children in the local community. Children’s designs were given to Proludic UK to turn into a reality.
Daniel Baxter who is a play designer at Proludic UK and worked closely with the children, turning their ideas into a reality, said:
Their energy and sense of fun was an inspiration to drive the project forward with their creative ideas and drawing skills.
The RAF Benevolent Fund (founded in 1919) is the RAF’s leading welfare charity with a proud tradition of looking after its own. The charity if for all serving and former members of the RAF as well as their partners and dependent children. For full press release on today’s visit, click here.
There are 2 more engagements planned for HRH for today, I will write about those if anything will be shared.
Outfit & jewellery:
Blazer seen on many occasions before, no ID.
Belted stretch-cady midi dress by Max Mara.
Earrings seen before, no ID.
RAF Wittering badge.
Sophie Habsburg, the ‘Gilda’ nappa handbag.
New, Tango suede shoe in taupe by Penelope Chilvers ID’d by Replicate Royalty (@replicateroyals).