In light of the recent conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Prince Edward has cancelled his visit to Sochi, where he had planned to attend the 2014 Winter Paralympics.
Buckingham Palace has said that, on the advice of Her Majesty’s Government, the Earl of Wessex has decided against going to Russia for the sporting event.
While the cancellation of royal events is very rare, only occurring due to illness or emergencies, it was made necessary on this occasion because of tensions arising with Russia over the military action taken in Crimea.
Along with the Earl of Wessex, a number of British Cabinet Ministers have also withdrawn their attendance at the event. A Downing Street spokesperson said that David Cameron was “gravely concerned” about the situation in Ukraine, and the Prime Minister himself wrote to his followers on Twitter “Because of the serious situation in Ukraine, @WilliamJHague [Foreign Minister] & I believe it would be wrong for UK Ministers to attend the Sochi Paralympics.”
However, the government are fully supportive of British athletes participating in the games.
Prince Edward is the royal patron of the British Paralympic Association, a post he has held since 2003. He has attended all the Paralympics events that have taken place since then, and even accompanied his mother, the Queen, to the closing ceremony of the Paralympics in London in 2012. He was due to go to Sochi on the 11th of March, one day after his 50th birthday, and remain there for four days.