In recent weeks, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, spent two days in Lebanon with British politician Tariq Ahmad, Baron Ahmad of Wimbledon, who serves as the British prime minister’s special representative on preventing sexual violence in conflict and her special envoy on freedom of religion or belief.
During her working visit, Her Royal Highness attended the British Embassy’s reception to celebrate the Queen’s Birthday, which took place at the National Library. An exhibit at the library highlighted the past, present, and future of relations between the United Kingdom and Lebanon.
It is noteworthy that the Hamazkayin Gargach and Ayk choirs performed on this occasion. Under the direction of Zakar Keshishian, accompanied on the piano by Sirvart Boyadjian-Sabounjian, the choirs sang the Lebanese national anthem and “God Save the Queen.”
Reading a message from Queen Elizabeth, the countess said, “The United Kingdom recognises Lebanon as a symbol of diversity, tolerance and resilience, and I hope that the strong bond of friendship between our two countries will continue for many years.”
The bulk of the speech, however, was about having met “Lebanese and Syrian women who have been subjected to sexual and gender based violence, to hear the stories of their struggles against the stigma they suffer, their survival and their hopes for the future.”
After the official part of the program, the countess approached the members of the choral groups, complimented them on their performance, and posed for a group photo with them.