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On UK royalty’s first visit to Ukraine, Duchess Sophie stands with victims of Russia’s sexual crimes

Sophie, the UK Duchess of Edinburgh, met Ukraine’s President and First Lady in Kyiv, focusing on support for survivors of sexual violence, and visited Bucha to pay respects to victims of Russia’s occupation.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (L), HRH Duchess Sophie of Edinburgh (C), and Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska in Kyiv on 29 April 2024. Photo:
On UK royalty’s first visit to Ukraine, Duchess Sophie stands with victims of Russia’s sexual crimes

On 29 April, Sophie, the Duchess of Edinburgh, went on a one-day surprise visit to Kyiv on behalf of the UK Foreign Office, becoming the first member of the UK royal family to visit Ukraine since the Russian invasion began. Sophie’s visit was to “demonstrate solidarity with the women, men and children impacted by the war,” according to BBC.

Buckingham Palace and the UK Government reported that during her visit, Her Royal Highness Sophie met with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and First Lady Olena Zelenska, visited Kyiv’s Saint Sophia Cathedral, met with survivors of sexual violence, female IDPs, and volunteers aiding communities traumatized by the invasion, and paid her respects to those who murdered during Russia’s occupation in Bucha.

Duchess Sophie of Edinburgh in Bucha paying tribute to the victims of Russia’s aggression. 29 April 2024, Photo:

Dutchess Sophie of Edinburgh is the wife of UK Prince Edward, brother of the British monarch King Charles III. However, officially she’s never referred to as a princess.

Duchess Sophie of Edinburgh and Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska in Kyiv’s Saint Sophia Cathedral on 29 APril 2024. Photo:

According to the President’s Office, Olena Zelenska thanked Sophie for her efforts against wartime sexual violence, particularly highlighting her online participation in the International Conference “Restoration of the Rights of Survivors of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence: An Element of Peace & World Security,” supported by the United Kingdom and held in Kyiv in March.

Downing Street noted that since 2022, the UK has committed over £4.7 billion ($5.8 billion) in non-military support to Ukraine, including more than £660 million ($828 million) in bilateral assistance focused on the needs of women and girls. This funding supports essential services for survivors of gender-based violence and collaborates with the Office of the Prosecutor General to prioritize survivors in prosecuting conflict-related sexual violence crimes.

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