‘Pitch-perfect’ royal: Sophie Wessex’s body language shows ‘genuine interest’
30th September 2021

Sophie Wessex praises the work of OSCAR International

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The Royal Family posted a video of a Zoom call on Instagram, with Sophie, Countess of Wessex, the founder of OSCAR, Ashok Rathod, and a group of school children from India. One school girl said: “During lockdown college was not open, the school board was not open – only online classes and online things were going on. It was very difficult to continue online study from home.”

Another schoolgirl added: “OSCAR – they try to fill the gap, like where they can help.

“Lots of people in the community know that OSCAR are doing something great.”

The founder of the charity, Ashok, then said: “That is our main target, to support all the children because we don’t want any child to drop out of school, because we know that how difficult life is once they drop out.”

The Countess could then be heard saying: “It’s amazing what you have achieved.

“I mean the whole pandemic has been really tough on you, but actually OSCAR has not only been teaching you the importance of education, but the re-engagement with the community with what’s been needed throughout this time, and you have really stepped up.

“We know that if you allow education to thrive amongst communities, then it lifts them and it gives them opportunities where they may not have otherwise existed,” Sophie added.

The Royal Family captioned the video with: “The Countess of Wessex has become Patron of OSCAR, a charity which supports the education of children in the most deprived communities in India.

“To mark her new role, HRH caught up with OSCAR’s Founder, Ashok, and a group of school girls, all of whom HRH met in Mumbai in 2019.”

Judi James, a body language expert, spoke to Express.co.uk about Sophie’s body language in the Zoom call.

Judi said: “Sophie’s body language is pitch-perfect here.

“Video calls can still be challenging, especially when we’re engaging with new callers but Sophie performs a masterclass in active listening skills here to show genuine interest, encouragement and concern and to allow the young people to speak with confidence.

“There is no attempt to rush them, to interrupt or even join in apart from as a listener.

“Sophie nods and places her hand under her chin, moving her index finger to her chin and shaking her head at the challenges she is hearing.

“This is an encouragement gesture to suggest she wants to hear more.

“Later she has placed her other hand close below her chin and she is nodding or shaking her head as appropriate to what she is hearing.

“She also sucks her lips in slightly to register sympathy or concern.

“When she does talk she lowers herself slightly to lower her own status and allow the other people to feel like the experts and she uses a reflecting technique, repeating back all she has heard from them to show authentic interest.”

Lucinda Sowerbutts, head of OSCAR International, spoke to Express.co.uk, saying: “The Countess has shown substantial and valued support for OSCAR International’s Mumbai based partner, the OSCAR Foundation, both in India and the UK.

“Her Royal Highness is passionate about gender equality and committed to championing the rights of women and girls.”

In 2018, Sophie hosted the OSCAR Under 17 #kicklikeagirl Football team to a curry lunch in her Surrey home and accompanied the girls on a private tour of Windsor Castle.

In 2019, the Countess supported the touring OSCAR U17 boys’ football team against Eton College and later visited the Ambedkar Nagar community in Mumbai, home of Ashok Rathod.

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