Her Majesty and the Countess of Wessex celebrated the success of the Diamond Jubilee Trust at a glittering Buckingham Palace reception this evening.
The Queen, 93, looked stylish in a bold blue long-sleeved dress with sparkling thread and accessorised with pearls.
The monarch completed her outfit with her trusted pair of black shoes and held a leather bag in one hand and glass in the other.
Meanwhile, Sophie Wessex, 54, Vice-Patron of the Trust, donned a white dress and heels – and paid tried tribute to the charity’s work, which has helped save the sight of more than 22 million people in just five years.
The Queen, 93, looked stylish in a bold blue dress and pearls as she arrived at a reception to celebrate the work of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust at Buckingham Palace in London today
The monarch attended the glittering reception to support the work of the Diamond Jubilee Trust in preventing blindness and its Vice-Patron Sophie Wessex, the Countess of Wessex
Established as a time-limited charitable foundation by Commonwealth Heads of Government in 2012, the Trust’s mission has been to curb avoidable blindness and empower a new generation of young leaders – The Queen’s Young Leaders.
Working to a five-year time-frame, the programmes have helped to enrich the lives of people across the Commonwealth.
The Trust will close as planned in 2020, with its mission living on in those it has supported, and those it has equipped to continue changing lives going forward.
The reception this evening brought together staff, supporters, partners and beneficiaries – including front-line ophthalmologists and eye health professionals from across the Commonwealth – to celebrate the Trust’s achievements.
Sophie took the opportunity to pay tribute to her ‘dear Mama’, the affectionate nickname she has for her mother-in-law.
The royal has been campaigning to curb blindness around the world for 20 years and the Queen personally asked her to lead the trust’s work-set up to commemorate the Queen’s 60 years as head of the Commonwealth.
The Queen looked stylish as she appeared at the event – which brought staff, supporters, partners and beneficiaries together – in a bold blue dress clutching her leather hand bag
Her majesty completed the outfit with a pair of black shoes and was also pictured holding a glass in one hand as she attended the evening
At the reception, attended by 200 people whom the Queen all personally met, she said: ‘I feel in a way that I have been your eyes, having travelled to Malawi, Bangladesh and India to see the work of the Trust first-hand, witnessing the ambitious initiatives being carried out in Your Majesty’s name, and ensuring that the intended legacy would be real and long lasting.’
‘I am very happy to say that Your Majesty’s honour has been more than upheld.’
‘The Trust has concentrated on tackling curable eye diseases, including diabetic retinopathy, retinopathy of prematurity and a particularly widespread and painful eye issue, blinding trachoma.’
‘This ancient disease, which even warrants a mention in the Bible, has been one of the most prevalent and out of control eye conditions the world has known and now, across the Commonwealth and beyond it is on the run.’
Sophie continued: ‘Mama, when I have returned from my travels I have been so proud to share with you the work I have witnessed being carried out under the umbrella of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust and the care of so many people working so hard to save and cure sight.
‘Each time you have listened with interest and been eager to hear of how the work is going, and each time I have been stunned as you have shared with me your deep knowledge of each of these countries, not top level observations, but personal experience, demonstrating to me time and again the real affection you have for all people of the Commonwealth and why that affection is so abundantly returned by them to you.’
The Countess of Wessex told the 200 assembled guests that the trust has concentrated on tackling curable eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy, retinopathy of prematurity and blinding trachoma, which is particularly widespread
Queen Elizabeth II made sure that she greeted every guest at the glittering evening in person
Her majesty and the Countess of Wessex, pictured behind in white, greet guests at the elegant evening in Buckingham Palace
The royal was also photographed shaking hands with a guest and exchanging a smile at the reception held to celebrate the work of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust at Buckingham Palace
She added: ‘On your 21st Birthday, while on a tour to South Africa you made a promise to dedicate your life to the service of the Commonwealth.’
‘You have carried out this promise in so many ways ever since, but your Diamond Jubilee Trust has I believe allowed Your Majesty to demonstrate your dedication in a tangible and practical way, which has and is enriching the lives of people across the Commonwealth and will be felt by generations to come.’
Since 2014, the Trust has helped more than 22 million people in Africa and the Pacific receive vital antibiotics to combat trachoma – the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness – and supported Malawi and Vanuatu in removing the risk of the disease.
Both are on track to be certified as having eliminated trachoma by the World Health Organisation.
The Trust has provided sight-saving surgery to over 104,000 people suffering with trachoma trichiasis and ensured almost 19,200 people have received treatment to prevent the loss of sight due to diabetes.
Britain’s longest serving monarch came to show her support for the Trust – which has helped more than 22 million people in Africa and the Pacific combat blindness
The 93-year-old was greeted as ‘mama’ by her daughter-in-law this evening, which is a nickname the Countess of Wessex uses to show her affection for the monarch
Trachoma is a bacteria condition, which starts as conjunctivitis and is easily treatable with antibiotics if treated early.
It has been wiped out in developed countries yet is endemic in developing countries, partly through poor sanitation, and the trust has done incredible work to help so many over a short period.
The Trust’s chief executive Dr Astrid Bonfield said:
‘It was at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in 2012 that they wanted to say thankyou to the Queen and the best vehicle to do so was a charity.
‘The British Government through DFID contributed £50million and we were able to match that, which was fantastic. ‘It was a very bold and fantastic gesture.
‘From day one the trust was always going to be life limited: only five years. We have reached more than 22million people in Africa and beyond working in partnership with people like Sightsavers.
Four out of five people who are blind don’t need to be, 80 per cent is a chilling statistic.
‘In Malawi three years ago 8million people at risk of going blind, now it’s zero.
‘The numbers that have been helped are just so big and we’ve made tangible differences.
‘Would we have achieved so much without a finishing line? Probably not.
‘We’ve been given this opportunity in the name of the Queen and our duty was to maximise it to the limit
‘The countess has also been instrumental and it’s a subject that has been dear to her heart for a very long time.’
Sophie has met many of the beneficiaries on three separate trips with the trust to India, Malawi and Bangladesh.
During a reception after the countess’s speech the Queen told guests that she found the Trust’s achievement ‘amazing’.
‘When John [Sir John Major] talked to me about setting up the trust I hadn’t realised how bad it [the issue of preventable blindness] was,’ she said, smiling.
‘And if anything it seems to be spreading. What it [the trust] has achieved is remarkable.’
The Queen’s Young Leaders Programme has also recognised 240 exceptional young people aged 18-29 from across the Commonwealth who are transforming the lives of others.
Each year from 2014 to 2018, 60 exceptional young people are selected to receive a Queen’s Young Leaders Award and become ‘Queen’s Young Leaders’ – one for every year that The Queen had served as Head of the Commonwealth at the time of her Diamond Jubilee.
The Queen’s Young Leaders form a unique, dedicated and powerful group of young people from 53 Commonwealth countries who will continue connecting, collaborating and changing lives together for years to come.
Commonwealth Heads of Government endorsed these goals when they met in Sri Lanka in 2013, and The Queen’s Young Leaders Programme and initiatives to end avoidable forms of blindness were formally launched in 2014.
The Countess of Wessex became Vice-Patron of the Trust on the occasion of her 50th birthday and has since visited Malawi, Bangladesh and India to see the work of the Trust to tackle avoidable blindness first-hand.