The Earl of Wessex was in Australia last week for various engagements related to the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and the Commonwealth Games.
Prince Edward attended the Commonwealth Games as a representative of The Queen and also as Vice-Patron of the Commonwealth Games Federation. While Down Under, The Queen’s youngest son promoted The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award programme in his role as Chairman of the Board of Trustees.
The Duke of Edinburgh Award – which currently has around 38,000 Australian participants – encourages teenagers to learn new skills, improve their physical well-being, experience team adventures in new environments and volunteer in their communities.
“The award’s relevance to all young Australians is as important today as it was when it started over 60 years ago. Employers in particular are recognising the ‘soft skills’ that are so necessary for a well-prepared future employee,” said Peter Kaye, Chief Executive of the award in Australia.
The Earl of Wessex and his wife, Sophie, have become increasingly active in The Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme in recent years, particularly as the elderly Duke has retired from royal duties. During Charles’ reign, it is expected that Edward will become The Duke of Edinburgh and continue his father’s work with the award scheme.
The Earl of Wessex also attended the 21st Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, where 71 nations are competing in a variety of sports. This year, England have sent over 400 athletes to the Games.
Last Monday, The Earl of Wessex visited the Cope-Williams Winery and Conference Centre in Romsey, Victoria, as part of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Real Tennis Tour 2018.
The Real Tennis Tour 2018 is the Earl’s mission to play on all 48 Real Tennis courts in the world; the tour will see him travel though England, Scotland, France and the US, as well as playing on Australia’s five courts to complete his quest. Edward also played real tennis on the first leg of his Australian visit in Victoria.
The tour continued for Prince Edward in the afternoon when he travelled to the Hobart Real Tennis Club in Hobart, Tasmania. Edward’s visit to Tasmania marks the 23rd visit to the island by a member of the Royal Family during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.
— 7 News Melbourne (@7NewsMelbourne) 7 April 2018
On Tuesday (10th April), The Earl of Wessex visited Tasmania Technical and Further Education (TasTAFE) in Hobart, Tasmania. On this visit, Prince Edward attended a breakfast at TasTAFE’s Drysdale Restaurant to recognise employers who are supporting The Duke of Edinburgh Award.
Later in the morning, Prince Edward visited St Aloysius Catholic College in Hobart to meet Southern Tasmanian students who are participants of award scheme.
After lunch at Government House, the Earl visited the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens, becoming the first Royal to do so in their 200 year history. During the visit, Prince Edward opened a new viewing platform in the garden’s lily pad section to celebrate the bicentenary of the gardens.
The Earl also added some humour to the occasion, stating: “The unveiling of a plaque is not necessarily the most exciting thing that has happened in your lives. But what I want you to do is present that it’s very exciting. I want you to release 200 years of pent up excitement at this moment. I will try and make this look as slick and as professional as possible.”
In the evening, Prince Edward travelled to the Gold Coast to attend a dinner at the Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort in his capacity as Vice-Patron of the Commonwealth Games Federation.
On Wednesday (11th April), The Earl of Wessex attended the seventh day of the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Queensland. His first event was the men’s hockey preliminary match between Malaysia and Pakistan. Edward then managed to attend the exciting netball match between South Africa and Pakistan.
However, the highlight of the day was the Earl awarding medals for Rhythmic Gymnastics Individual All-Round events at the Coomera Indoor Sports Centre. Cyprus were crowned winners of the team event, surpassing their record total of gold medals.
On Sunday (15th April), The Queen’s youngest son attended the closing ceremony of the Games at the Carrara Stadium. Both the opening and closing ceremonies of the Games have been attended by members of the Royal Family, as the Earl’s eldest brother, The Prince of Wales, formally opened the Games on the 4th April.
As Vice Patron of the games, the Prince made a speech during the ceremony, touching on the importance of the Games for all nations. He explained that the Commonwealth Games: “Express friendship between nations and the desire to share our common values and our common wealth for the good of humanity and the peace of the world.”
Edward’s full speech can be read here.
Edward gave his speech while an image of Birmingham was displayed in the stadium; the English city will host the next Games in 2022. The Earl of Wessex then followed formalities by officially closing the 21st Commonwealth Games.