BAGHDAD: The Duchess of Edinburgh traveled to Iraq this week, meeting politicians and feminist activists in a rare visit by a British royal to the war-scarred country, Iraq’s 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 to Iraq as part of the US-led invasion three years earlier.
The Duchess Sophie spent two days in Baghdad where she met President Abdul Latif Rashid and his wife Shanaz Ibrahim Ahmed, the Iraqi presidency said in a statement.
During the unannounced visit by the wife of King Charles’ youngest brother Edward, she met with Iraqi women in different posts and visited centers that took care of women and children health. Duchess Sophie’s secret trip, due to security reason, ended on Tuesday.
The Iraqi presidency said the Duchess delivered a written message from King Charles III — who had himself visited Iraq in 2004.
She also met Iraqi Prime Minister Mohamed Shia Al-Sudani.
HRH The Duchess of Edinburgh visited Baghdad this week, the first Royal visit to Iraq in many years. We were delighted to introduce her to inspiring Iraqi women and see first-hand the added value women can bring to the development of Iraqi society when fully empowered. pic.twitter.com/t1qMkSjycN— UK in Iraq 🇬🇧🇮🇶 (@UKinIraq) May 24, 2023
The duchess delivered a speech at the annual conference of funded Women’s Voices First – for change makers and women’s rights organizations in Iraq. During the dinner she met representatives of women’s rights groups in the country as well as women officers from Iraqi armed forces to hear about the work being done to integrate women, peace and security into the Iraqi military and share the UK experience in that field.
The Duchess also met with businesswomen and discussed with them the challenges that they faced and how they overcame them.
Iraq remains traumatized from the years of war, occupation and bloody sectarian turmoil that followed the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.
With inputs from AFP