The British Council hosted The Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and The Countess of Wessex on Saturday 3 February, at its main premises in Colombo. Their Royal Highnesses are visiting Sri Lanka during the week when Sri Lanka celebrates the 70th anniversary of its Independence.
The Earl and Countess engaged with participants in sessions that spanned the different areas of the British Council’s work in Sri Lanka.
Following a meeting with the British Council’s ‘Active Citizens’ Their Royal Highnesses were given a tour of the premises, starting with the British Council Teaching Centre, where Duncan Mothersill, British Council Deputy Director explained to The Earl how it has developed. His Royal Highness talked to students about a project they were doing on the Commonwealth.
The Earl also met students from the British School in Colombo and Le Petit Fleur who are completing The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. The Earl listened to the students’ accounts of their experiences working towards this award.
The Countess met a group of nine Sri Lankan women active in business, the arts and social enterprise. They discussed both the successes and challenges facing women in Sri Lanka. The discussion was moderated by British Council Country Director Gill Caldicott and covered, among other areas, challenges faced by professional women getting to the top of their professions, whether in business, charities or the arts. They also spoke about social entrepreneurship, with a focus on tackling issues such as gender based violence, encouraging start-ups and women entrepreneurs at the grassroots level.
Gill Caldicott said the meetings had given British Council staff, students and programme participants an exciting opportunity to interact with Their Royal Highnesses. The discussion on women’s rights had been a particular highlight for her, she said.
“In addition to the Active Citizens, and the students’ meeting, we’re particularly pleased to have hosted a discussion on women’s issues. We’re grateful to The Countess, as well as our other participants, for engaging in an interesting discussion on some of the many challenges that women in Sri Lanka face,” she added.