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PrinceEdward_23032012_001Their Royal Highnesses the Earl and Countess of Wessex are to visit the Isle of Wight on Thursday and Friday of next week.

The couple have a number of joint engagements but will also spend time visiting organisations individually across the Island.

It will be the first time the Royal couple have visited the Island together in over 10 years, however Prince Edward visited the Island two years ago to open Ryde School’s new building (pictured) and the Countess back in 2009.

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Lord-Lieutenant of the Isle of Wight, Major General Martin White, said:

“The visit is a wonderful opportunity to highlight the valuable work of organisations and volunteers who contribute so much to Island life. We are very much looking forward to welcoming the Earl and Countess of Wessex back to the Isle of Wight.”

On Thursday (27th March), the pair will jointly visit:

Shanklin Theatre
The visit forms part of the theatre’s 80th anniversary celebrations. The Earl and Countess of Wessex will tour the theatre, meet staff, volunteers and performers before watching a short performance from First Act, a drama group for people with disabilities. While at the theatre, the Earl of Wessex will be presented with a birthday cake prepared by the Women’s Institute, in celebration of his 50th birthday.

Gala fundraising dinner 
Their Royal Highnesses will be guests of honour at a gala fundraising dinner at the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes in aid of the Newport Minster Renewal Appeal. The Earl of Wessex is patron of the renewal appeal. 

Earlier in the day, the Prince Edward will visit, on his own:

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Brading Roman Villa
His Royal Highness is patron of Brading Roman Villa. The Earl will be shown the museum’s new gallery space and will be invited to view a touring exhibition from The British Museum.

Shanklin Youth and Community Club
His Royal Highness will meet volunteers from the club and view artwork produced by young people who attend the club. He will also meet representatives from the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award groups on the Island and find out about their achievements. While at Shanklin Youth and Community Group, the Earl of Wessex will present an award to Suzanne Whitewood MBE for long service and dedication to the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and Girl Guides on the Isle of Wight. On departure, the Earl of Wessex will be invited to plant the first of 100 bulbs being planted in Shanklin to commemorate the start of the First World War. The chairman of Shanklin Royal British Legion will hand the trowel to the Earl of Wessex.

Newport Minster
The Earl of Wessex will visit Newport Minster in his capacity as patron of the renewal appeal. The Earl has visited the minster on many occasions, on this visit he will see the latest phase of restoration to the north side of the minster including a dramatic change accomplished by freshly cleaned stonework and repairs, the renewal of the archway around the north door and the newly erected pinnacle in the north west corner. 

Meanwhile, The Countess of Wessex will visit:

Rapanui, Sandown
The Countess will be introduced to Rapanui staff who will explain the history and ethos of the company. Co-owners Rob Drake-Knight and Martin Drake-Knight will describe the journey of one of their t-shirts from design to shop. The Countess will be told about the company’s future plans and projects and will be introduced to two of Rapanui’s apprentices. 

Gatten and Lake Primary School 
The Countess will view the school’s project called ‘Shanklin Our Town’ in conjunction with Shanklin Youth and Community Club. The Countess will be shown artwork and listen to a song about Shanklin sung by pupils. The school will also be welcoming pupils from St George’s School and St Catherine’s School who have recently achieved their Duke of Edinburgh’s Bronze Award, the Countess will spend time learning about their achievements. A posy will be presented to the Countess by a six-year-old pupil from Gatten and Lake Primary School. 

Isle of Wight Foodbank 
Hannah King, manager of the Isle of Wight Foodbank in Cowes will explain the role of the foodbank on the Isle of Wight and introduce the Countess to staff and volunteers. 

On Friday (28th March), the Earl and Countess of Wessex will both visit:

St Mildred’s Church, Whippingham
The Earl and Countess of Wessex will view the church where Princess Beatrice and Prince Henry of Battenburg were married in 1885 and are buried. The visit will be hosted by the Reverend Allie Kerr, Vicar of East Cowes and Whippingham.

Queensgate Foundation Primary School
During the visit, the Earl and Countess of Wessex will meet staff and pupils and visit a music lesson and a cookery lesson. Their Royal Highnesses will be shown the school’s world map project and a special project about the royal family. Children will also sing a song called ‘The Power in Me’. The Earl and Countess of Wessex will be invited to unveil a plaque commemorating their visit. Finally, a posy and some freshly baked items will be presented to the Earl and Countess of Wessex before they leave.

Osborne House
The Earl and Countess of Wessex will officially open ‘Childhood at Osborne’, a £1.65 million conservation and interpretation project at the Swiss Cottage. Open to visitors from 1 April 2014, the Swiss Cottage Quarter will enable visitors to step into the world of royal childhood at Osborne for the first time. Their Royal Highnesses will also tour Osborne House and meet staff, donors and fundraisers.

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