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Duchess Sophie Doesn’t Consider Ukraine Trip ‘Courageous’



Duchess Sophie Doesnt Consider Ukraine Trip Courageous

Duchess Sophie

Duchess Sophie might be the first royal to visit Ukraine since the outbreak of war with Russia, but she doesn’t think she’s owed any special praise.

“Since returning to the UK, many people have said how brave or courageous I was for going,” the Duchess of Edinburgh, 59, wrote in a diary for The Sunday Times on May 26. “I am neither. The brave people are those who have endured extreme violence and survived.”

Sophie toured the country in secret in April. Along the way, she visited the first family of Ukraine, Traveled around the suburbs of Kyiv where a Russian advance was turned back and spoke with victims of wartime sexual assault. The impact on survivors has drawn Sophie to many warzones over the years.

“This was not my first time in a conflict zone. I have travelled to countries affected by war including South Sudan, Kosovo, Iraq, Colombia, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, in the hope that I can help draw attention to and encourage greater support for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence,” she shared.

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Ukraine was no different. Sophie shared that 169 cases of conflict-related sexual violence have been reported in that country since February 2022. She notes that those numbers are likely the “tip of the iceberg” due to “stigma and under-reporting.” Sophie called the use of sexual violence a “weapon requiring no training, no investment” that is “deployed globally.”

Duchess Sophie Doesnt Consider Ukraine Trip Courageous

Duchess Sophie
Anatolii Stepanov – Pool/Getty Images

In her diary, she hoped that changing attitudes toward sexual violence during war can lead to more people coming forward and receiving the help they need.

History is littered with reports of women falling prey to advancing and occupying armies, and it still exists in modern warfare. Historically, this has often been viewed as a casualty or symptom of war, rather than a deliberate tactic to overpower,” she said. “It is only more recently that increased recognition has been given to these heinous crimes, and society has come to understand that it is used to demean, destroy and control.”

Though Sophie represented the Crown in an active war zone, she wants no recognition for her actions. She hoped that any energy that might go toward praising her would instead be redirected to resources for survivors.

“The courageous are those who have reported the crimes committed against them,” she said. “As we look around the world with so many current and threatening crises, my hope is that where conflict does occur more consideration is given to creating well-funded early systems of support for survivors.”

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Sophie has stepped into a larger role within the royal family due to recent Health scares for King Charles III and Princess Kate Middleton. She’s cottoned to the promotion quickly, acting in a manner similar to Princess Diana’s frequent role as a humanitarian ambassador. Sophie and her husband, Prince Edward, recently took on a huge role, representing the royals in Charles and Queen Camilla’s stead on Anzac Day.

Royal Commentator Afua Hagan told Us Weekly in April that Sophie has become the “royal family’s secret weapon” during this tumultuous period.

“She really gets on with the job, she connects very well with people on these engagements that she does, and she does a lot of them behind the scenes,” Hagan said. “Now, we’re seeing Prince Edward stepping out in his own way as well.”

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