As a part of her visit to Uganda, Princess Anne was originally scheduled to visit Salama School for the Blind in Luga Village on Friday to see the work done by Sense International, a global charity that supports deafblind people. But on Tuesday a tragic fire broke out in the boarding school, killing 11 people, many of them students. Instead, Anne visited the organization at its headquarters in Kampala and stood for a minute of silence in honor of the lives lost.
In a statement, she sent condolences to the community affected by the tragedy. “I was shocked to hear the news of the tragic loss of life,” she said. “The work of Sense International across many countries is hugely appreciated, working with such a vulnerable group of children. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and staff.” According to the AFP, the fire broke out at 1 a.m. on Tuesday morning, and the Uganda Police Force is investigating its origins.
Anne and her husband Sir Timothy Laurence are visiting Uganda to mark the 60th anniversary of its independence from the U.K. in October 1962, when the Duke and Duchess of Kent were present in the country to mark the formation of its new parliament. The trip is her first official tour on behalf of the British Foreign Office since the death of her mother, Queen Elizabeth II, in September. To honor the late queen, Anne wore a brooch that consisted of a sapphire surrounded by diamonds with a pearl drop to a dinner at the British High Commissioner’s residence. According to Lauren Kiehna of the Court Jeweller, the brooch once belonged to the queen’s grandmother, Queen Mary, and she would often wear it on foreign tours and visits to the Epsom Derby.
During the dinner at the British residence with High Commissioner Kate Airey, Anne and Laurence both met Uganda’s president Yoweri Musaveni. According to the commission’s Twitter account, Musaveni presented the famously outdoorsy couple with a picture of his Ankole cattle.
Anne also saw the work of a few of her other patronages during the visit. On Tuesday, she visited the Kyangwali Refugee Settlement to learn about how her patronage Save the Children has helped students make up for learning loss after the pandemic. She also visited a research institute run by London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, where she is a patron, the Medical Research Council, and the Uganda Virus Research Institute, where they discussed Uganda’s ongoing Ebola outbreak.
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