UK’s Prince William, Kate and family regale Poland at start of goodwill trip

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 July, 2017, 2:11am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 July, 2017, 2:10am

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge shook hands with well-wishers and met with World War II veterans in Poland on Monday at the start of a two-country goodwill trip that is intended to underscore Britain’s intention to maintain friendly ties with the European Union that it is in the process of leaving.

From Warsaw’s airport, the royal couple were driven in a motorcade to meet President Andrzej Duda and First Lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda at the Presidential Palace for lunch. They visited the palace gardens and after lunch took a short stroll in front of the palace and were greeted by a huge crowd waving British and Polish flags and taking photos.

“I am so happy that I saw this beautiful couple,” said Helena Wozna, 63, who was in the crowd. “Prince William shook my hand. I’m happy I came here.”

Prince William and his wife Kate then met with World War II veterans at the museum to the 1944 Warsaw Uprising against the Germans, and travelled to a business centre where they met with representatives from Polish and British business. Hundreds of thousands of Poles live and work in Britain, strengthening business ties.

The Polish hosts have said this is a visit of “respect and friendship” that shows relations remain strong.

In the evening, William is to deliver a speech during a reception in the historic Lazienki Park in honour of his 91-year-old grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II.

William, second in line to the throne, has taken on more public duties in recent years as the queen gradually eases up on her schedule due to advancing years.

On their first official visit to Poland the Duke and the Duchess were accompanied by their children, Prince George, who will be 4 on Saturday, and Princess Charlotte, 2. The children are expected to draw wide attention on a trip being characterised by the British press as part of a charm offensive to soften Britain’s Brexit diplomacy. Warsaw’s Belvedere Palace, where they are residing during the visit, has had playground toys installed.

On arrival, the Duchess was wearing an Alexander McQueen white skirt and jacket and carrying her daughter, Princess Charlotte, who was dressed in a pink flowered sleeveless dress. Prince William was wearing a dark suit and Prince George was in short trousers and a shirt.

On Tuesday, the royals will travel to the Baltic coast where they will visit Stutthof, a World War II Nazi German concentration camp. They will also tour the historic city of Gdansk, where they will see a replica of Shakespeare’s theatre and meet the former president, Lech Walesa, who was instrumental in bringing about the end of communism in Poland. On Wednesday, they head to Berlin.