Royal Visit Baltics
The Earl and Countess of Wessex visited Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to mark the countries’ centenaries and celebrate their historic links with the UK.
Use the menu to read more about each country.
At the beautiful Riga Castle, The Earl and Countess were officially welcomed to Latvia by the President, Mr Raimonds Vējonis and Mrs Iveta Vējone.
Their Royal Highnesses then travelled to the iconic freedom monument to remember those who fought in the Latvian war of independence.
In 2014, Riga was the European Capital of Culture and as part of that legacy the National Library of Latvia is creating a ‘People’s Bookshelf’. Everyone is encouraged to donate a book, which has a special importance to them, and write a personal message or story in the title page.
The Earl of Wessex then celebrated the success of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award in Latvia. The scheme was first launched in Latvia in 2006 and in its first 10 years over 650 young people achieved awards.
Meanwhile, The Countess visited three local organisations, starting at OracleTang to meet Riga Tech Girls – the first community in Latvia dedicated to education and inspiring girls and women about technology.
Her Royal Highness also visited the social enterprise, BlindArt, who create employment opportunities for people with visual impairments. The Countess works with a number of sight-related charities – find out more.
The Royal Highnesses were officially welcomed to Estonia at the Kadriorg Palace by President Kersti Kaljulaid and Mr Georgi Maksimovski, before going on a tour of Tallinn old town – a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
2018 marks 100 years of Estonian Independence and at the Defence Forces Cemetery Their Royal Highnesses remembered those who fought in the War of Independence 1918-20.
‘Operation Red Trek: Ensuring Estonian Freedom’, tells the story of how the British, led by Admiral Edwyn Alexander-Sinclair, helped the Estonia in the fight for independence. For the first time ever, the British Squadron’s exact route to Tallinn, which was riddled with minefields, can be seen on a digital map.
This support during war started an enduring legacy of friendship between the two countries – something that was celebrated at a reception hosted at the British Ambassador’s residence.
At the reception, Their Royal Highnesses met a number of young Estonian’s, including Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award participants.
The lasting legacy of #RoyalVisitEstonia was represented with The Earl and Countess planting an oak tree in the beautiful grounds of Kadriorg Park. The tree will mark 100 years of the Republic of Estonia and the 300th Anniversary of the Park – a public space in Tallinn that was created on the orders of Tsar Peter the Great.
The final day of the visit took place in Lithuania, where Their Royal Highnesses were officially welcomed by President Dalia Grybauskaitė.
The day started at Vilnius University, where The Earl and Countess were given a tour of the library. Founded in 1570, the library is the oldest in Lithuania and is home to 5.4 million documents.
The Earl of Wessex, Chairman of The Duke of Edinburgh International Award, then celebrated the achievements of the scheme in Lithuania by present five gold awards – the highest standard, which The Earl achieved himself in 1986.
Their Royal Highnesses then visited Antakalnis Cemetery, where a wreath was laid by Officers of the Guard of Honour in remembrance of those who died during the fight for Lithuanian independence.
The day finished with a celebration of the historic links between the UK and Lithuania at an exhibition hosted at the British Embassy: SUKurti tiLTai: Jungtinės Karalystės ir Lietuvos Respublikos ryšiai 1918-1940 (Bridges Created: Relations between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Lithuania in 1918-1940).