Sophie Wessex makes history for important royal trip planned 'months' before Queen's death

The Countess of Wessex became the first member of the British Royal Family to visit the Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday

Sophie Wessex makes history for trip planned 'months' before Queen's death
(Image credit: Getty)

Sophie Wessex has traveled to the Democratic Republic of Congo, becoming the first ever member of the British Royal Family to visit the Central African country. 

The Countess of Wessex made history on Monday after becoming the first British royal to travel to the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

Sophie, 57, is visiting the Central African country to address the "devastating impact of sexual and gender-based violence in conflict while supporting and empowering survivors and tackling the stigma they face", Buckingham Palace has confirmed in a statement. 

The overseas trip, which was reportedly planned months before the Queen's death on September 8, marks the countess's first official engagement since the period of Royal Mourning ended. 

Sophie Wessex

(Image credit: Getty)

It also coincides with King Charles III and Camilla's visit to Dunfermline in Scotland, which has recently been awarded city status in the Platinum Jubilee Civic Honours ahead of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee in June.

Sophie got straight to work in the Democratic Republic of Congo, meeting with representatives from TRIAL International; a non-governmental organization that is dedicated to fighting impunity for international crimes in the conflict. Keeping cool in the 33degrees heat, she wore a green maxi dress with a spotty white pattern and flat white brogues for the conference. 

Tackling sexual and gender-based violence has long been close to Sophie's heart, with the royal mum-of-two regularly using her platform to raise awareness for the subject. Speaking in a London School of Economics webinar in January, the countess revealed she'd "gone to some very dark places" whilst hearing the stories of survivors. 

"But I’m not living it and therefore if they can survive, if they can put one foot in front of the other, then for goodness’ sake, of course, I can," she added. 

Sophie also wrote an article for the Telegraph in October 2020 about women peacekeepers in conflict zones, highlighting that many perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence face "little or no justice or accountability" for their actions. 

Emma Dooney
Lifestyle News Writer

Hailing from the lovely city of Dublin, Emma mainly covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health and wellness feature. Always up for a good conversation, she has a passion for interviewing everyone from A-list celebrities to the local GP - or just about anyone who will chat to her, really.

Emma holds an MA in International Journalism from City, University of London, and a BA in English Literature from Trinity College Dublin.