Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh, on Monday became the first British royal to visit Ukraine since Russia invaded the country more than two years ago, London announced.

The British foreign ministry said Sophie met with survivors of sexual violence and torture during her visit, as well as women displaced by the war and children who were deported to Russia before recently being returned to Ukraine.

"I've been learning more about the situation in all its realities. Which, of course, is sad," Sophie said in a speech during a reception at the British ambassador's residence.

"The human cost of war is very real, and I know that everybody here feels it very intensely."

"It's true that women and girls pay the highest price in terms of human cost when it comes to the way that they are affected, the way that they can be used as weapons of war," she added.


"Rape is used to demean, to degrade and to destroy, and we have to get better at trying to prevent that from happening."

The Russian army in Ukraine has been accused of numerous incidents of rape and sexual violence.

The Duchess also paid her respects to the victims killed during Russia's bloody occupation of the town of Bucha near Kyiv, two years ago.

Sophie also met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his wife Olena Zelenska to express her support for the survivors of sexual violence.

Sophie is the wife of Prince Edward, who is the youngest son of the late Queen Elizabeth.

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