Warsaw, Poland (CNN) Britain Prince William He made a rare, unannounced trip to Poland on Wednesday, where he met British and Polish forces stationed near the Ukraine-Polish border and praised their “cooperation in support of the Ukrainian people and their freedom”.
The Prince of Wales first visited the Territorial Defense Force’s 3rd Brigade base in Rzeszow, where he met Polish Minister of Defense Mariusz Blaszczak and watched a display of military equipment.
While there, he spoke to the British and Polish soldiers about the strong comradeship that had been formed since they began working together.
The 40-year-old monarch then met with members of Britain’s armed forces to learn more about how they cooperate with their Polish counterparts providing operations in support of Ukraine.
William, who landed in the Polish capital Warsaw, said in a statement that it was “fantastic” to be back in Poland.
And the heir to the British throne said: “Our countries enjoy strong ties. Through our cooperation in support of the Ukrainian people and their freedom, which is also our freedoms and yours, these ties are further strengthened.”
“I am here because I want to personally thank the Polish and British forces who work in close and decisive partnership. I would also like to pay tribute to the inspiring humanity of the Polish people. I have opened your hearts as much as they have opened your homes.” He completed.
William added, “That is why I visited Rzeszow this afternoon to hear their stories and acknowledge their duty. I was struck by their passion as well as their shared determination to defend our common freedoms.”
This is William’s first trip to Poland since a 2017 visit with his wife, Catherine, Princess of Wales, and the prince is also keen to gain a stronger understanding of how the country is showing empathy towards its Ukrainian neighbours.
After the surprise visit to the troops, William traveled to Warsaw where he would visit an accommodation center to “witness first-hand the humanitarian response and how important the support communities across Poland have been for Ukrainians fleeing the war”.
Described as “on the front line of the humanitarian crisis”, Kensington Palace provides housing for around 300 women and children who have recently arrived in the country and are not yet integrated into local communities.
The city of Warsaw operates a former office building turned residence center and opened shortly after Russian forces poured across Ukraine’s borders in an unprovoked invasion.
Ukrainian refugees are provided with two meals a day, while a variety of resources are available – including Polish language lessons, employment, psychological support and a children’s play area.
The mayor of the city will meet the king and talk to some of the displaced Ukrainians living in the center, and learn more about how they came to move to Poland.
He will also meet volunteers who have been helping people displaced by conflict and discover how they manage and distribute donations from the community, which are disbursed through a “free shop”.
William’s previously unannounced trip to Poland will be a short one. On Thursday, he will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier – a memorial to the fallen soldiers on Piłsudski Square in the heart of the Polish capital. Almost 27 years ago, in 1996, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip laid a wreath at the War Memorial while in the country on a state visit.
After leaving the grave, William is scheduled to attend the presidential palace to meet with Polish leader Andrzej Duda, where he will “reiterate the deep bond that binds our two countries and underscore my continued support and gratitude to the Polish people.”
The visit will conclude with a visit to the Hala Koszyki dining hall, where he will meet young Ukrainians who will share their experiences of resettlement to Poland after their displacement due to the war. They are expected to discuss how they resumed their studies and found work in Warsaw. The Prince will also speak with host families who have helped accommodate Ukrainian refugees, and express his gratitude to them and their families for opening up their homes and for their compassion.
The royal family has been unusually outspoken about the war over the past year, and has extended its support to Ukraine on numerous occasions.
Unlike his mother, who avoided direct remarks on political matters throughout her reign, King Charles III was more forthright on the subject of Ukraine.
“The world has watched in horror at the utterly unnecessary suffering inflicted on Ukrainians,” the king said last month in a message marking the year since the Russian invasion. “I can only hope that the outpouring of solidarity from around the world may bring not only practical help, but also strength from the knowledge that, together, we stand united.”
Charles was previously confirmed His direct support for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky when the two met at Buckingham Palace in early February. Besides the Queen Consort, he has also incorporated posts with the Ukrainian community in the UK in his memoirs, as has William and Kate.
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