The Duchess of Edinburgh made history made history as the first UK Royal to ever visit Baghdad.
Buckingham Palace released a statement that she had gone to Iraq to gain an understanding of the issues women and girls face in the country. She visited a local school to hear from pupils about their education and met with President Abdul Latif Rashid, Prime Minister Mohammad Shia Al Sudani as well as other Iraqi women.
The Duchess of Edinburgh is the principal courtesy title held by the wife of the Duke of Edinburgh. The holder of this title was first announced on 27 February 2023 and took up her post that day, when she also became a Knight Commander of the Royal Order of Scotland.
The UK's ambassador to Iraq, Mark Bryson-Richardson praised her for visiting, as he accompanied her on most of her trip. Sophie is passionate about supporting women and gender equity globally, so it wasn't surprising when she announced her plan to align with the UN's Women, Peace, and Security Agenda, which encourages female participation in peace processes and conflict resolution.
Buckingham Palace confirmed that the journey was not revealed ahead of time for safety reasons. The Foreign Office currently suggests that British citizens do not visit most parts of Iraq as there is potential for violent demonstrations in the International Zone near Baghdad.
The US State Department also has a Level 4 DO NOT TRAVEL TO IRAQ - Alert, Updated January 3, 2023.
The US State Department basically says the following:
Do not under any circumstance enter Iraq. The country is in a state of chaos marked by terrorism, kidnappings, and armed conflict between local militias.
U.S. citizens risk being targeted by anti-U.S. militias that threaten anyone on their soil. There are explosives ready to detonate at any given moment, with devastating consequences for everyone around them. Furthermore, severe restrictions on the movement of U.S. government personnel have severely limited the capacity to provide emergency services to American citizens in need.
Demonstrations, protests, and strikes occur frequently, often turning violent and interrupting everyday services.