Earlier this year, Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh became the president of the Driffield Agricultural Society, and on Thursday, she traveled to the small Yorkshire town to attend the centenary Driffield Show, where farmers from around the area gather to show off their wares. In a camel blazer and navy dress, Sophie made pizzas with young children as a part of a lesson on where food comes from. She also handed out prizes to winning livestock.
Though Sophie’s highest profile charity connections are about supporting women and people with disabilities, she also has a handful of roles where she shows off her passion for farming and food. In 2021, she became the patron of the Addington Fund, a charity that provides services to farmers in need after disaster or economic crises, and at engagements for the fund, she likes to get her hands dirty, even feeding a calf at a dairy farm back in February.
As landowners, the royals have long had a close connection to agriculture and farm life. For decades, Prince Philip was the royal most associated with agriculture, and when he died in 2019, the head of the National Farmers’ Union, Minette Batters, called him an “enormous advocate of British farming and rural communities.” Though making appearances at the distinctive summer agricultural fairs around England is a must for all royals, Sophie hinted that she might want to be the heir to her father-in-law’s legacy in 2012, when she became the patron of the Association of Show and Agricultural Organizations.
The year before she took on the role, she gave a speech at the organization’s annual conference that highlighted the fairs’ importance bringing urban and rural communities together. “Agricultural shows provide a great shop window for the countryside and there is an increasing need for greater education, forward thinking, development and working together to promote their crucial work,” she said. She has been a frequent attendee of fairs across the UK ever since, sometimes bringing along her husband, Prince Edward. He has also followed in the footsteps of his father by taking on the patronage for the Duke of Edinburgh Award, which honors young people for outdoor achievement.
Now that there are fewer working royals, Sophie has had one of the most intense work schedules in the reign of King Charles III. The night before her trip to the Driffield Show, Sophie joined the king for a Windsor Castle reception honoring the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s First Folio. Along with Dame Judi Dench, Helena Bonham Carter, David Oyelowo, and more acting royalty, the duchess watched actors from the Royal Shakespeare Company perform famous monologues.
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