Now that his brother King Charles has ascended to the throne, Prince Edward is helping out by taking on some additional royal duties.
On Wednesday, The Earl of Wessex accompanied the President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa on two important environmental visits. The pair kicked off the second day of the president’s two-day state visit by taking a tour of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew located in southwest London. They chose that location in order to underscore the scientific and conservation partnerships between their two countries, specifically the Royal Botanic Gardens’ Millennium Seed Bank Partnership’s relationship with the South African National Biodiversity Institute. The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership is the largest off-site plant conservation program in the world with an underground collection of 2.4 billion different seeds. Edward and Ramaphosa examined the incredible array of plants at the gardens, taking specific note of the King Protea, the national flower of South Africa. To celebrate the next phase of the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership and the relationship between their two countries, the president was also presented with seeds from the Leucospermum plant after touring the Temperate House at the world-famous facility. During the visit, Ramaphosa also urged rich nations to help save vulnerable ones from climate change which puts the amazing biodiversity they saw at the gardens that day in jeopardy.
Following the visit, the duo headed back to central London where they stopped by the Francis Crick Institute, a biomedical research hub specializing in the study of the biology of health and disease. This institute works with the University of KwaZulu-Natal, a public university in South Africa, and while there, Edward and Ramaphosa got to see how the technology the institute helped developed is used to diagnose illnesses across Africa, including COVID-19. They also visited with some of the South African students and scientists who work there. After both those stops, Ramaphosa went on to meet with the UK’s new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at 10 Downing Street on his own, and then attended a business forum held at Lancaster House. He concluded the final day of his state visit with a formal farewell to King Charles at Buckingham Palace and a banquet hosted at Guildhall by city officials.
This solo outing with a world leader marks an important moment for Prince Edward as it communicates that he might play an increasingly active and significant role within the royal family during his brother’s reign. It also explains why earlier this week King Charles requested that British Parliament make the Earl of Wessex and their sister Princess Anne Counselors of State, a title that would allow both to act as royal representatives standing in for the monarch at official royal duties whenever he is abroad or under the weather. Another reason for this request is that Parliament recently pointed out that two of King Charles’s current Counsellors of State, Prince Harry and Prince Andrew, are no longer senior working royals. Edward and his wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex have also been asked to represent the royal family at the annual Royal Variety Performance next month, marking the first time the couple has ever attended the show.
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