Prince William in surprise visit to Poland to thank UK troops on Ukraine border
The Prince of Wales started a surprise trip to Poland by thanking British troops based about an hour’s drive from the Ukrainian border, saying they are “defending our freedoms”.
Their work to watch the situation in Ukraine is really important, Prince William told soldiers at an air defence military base in the south-eastern Polish city of Rzeszow.
Dressed casually in a black puffer jacket and trousers, he was shown a missile launcher during the visit to the base on Wednesday afternoon.
Prince William said the two-day trip would allow him to personally thank troops and pay tribute to the “inspiring humanity of the Polish people” in helping Ukrainian refugees.
“I just wanted to come here in person to say thank you for all that you’re doing, keeping everyone safe out here and keeping an eye on what’s going on,” he told the soldiers.
“So, just a big thank you for what you do on a day-to-day basis.
“You’re doing a really important job out here and defending our freedoms is really important, and everyone back home thoroughly supports you.”
The base, made up of British, Polish and US troops, is helping to aid support to Ukraine.
“We’re here to protect critical national infrastructure in the region,” said Maj Richard Kaye, who met the prince.
“We’re absolutely privileged to host His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, and privileged that he’s chosen to come and visit us.”
Prince William also visited Polish soldiers at the 3rd Brigade Territorial Defence Force base in Rzeszow.
There he was was greeted by Poland’s Defence Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Mariusz Blaszczak.
Mr Blaszczak expressed his gratitude for the co-operation between British and Polish troops.
Prince William visits British troops and Ukrainian refugees in Poland – in pictures
Prince William was then shown a Polish self-propelled howitzer artillery system that had a British turret.
“It is very important equipment, which Poland donated at the beginning of the war to Ukraine,” said Maj Przemyslaw Garema, 35. “We delivered a few batteries then.
“We have been training the Ukrainian soldiers in order to teach them how to use this.”
Prince William will later travel to an accommodation centre in Warsaw to meet Ukrainian refugees who have fled and found sanctuary in the Polish capital.
“It’s fantastic to be back in Poland,” he said, after landing in Warsaw.
“Our nations have strong ties. Through our co-operation in support of the people of Ukraine and their freedom, which are also our freedoms and yours, these ties are further strengthened.
“I’m here because I want to personally thank the Polish and British troops working in close and crucial partnership.
“I also want to pay tribute to the inspiring humanity of the Polish people. You have opened your hearts as much as your homes.
“That’s why this afternoon I visited Rzeszow to meet troops based there to hear their stories and recognise their duty.
“I was struck by their passion as well as their shared determination to defend our shared freedoms.”
The accommodation centre houses about 300 women and children who have arrived in the country recently, providing residents with two meals a day.
It also offers Polish-language lessons, employment support, a children’s play area, psychological support and kickboxing classes.
Prince William will hear from residents about their experiences before meeting volunteers.
He spoke of wanting to “underline” his continued support and gratitude to the Polish people.
On Thursday, the prince will meet Polish President Andrzej Duda at the Presidential Palace and visit a local food hall to speak with Ukrainian refugees.
He will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a monument dedicated to Polish soldiers who lost their lives in conflict.
The late Queen Elizabeth II and the late Duke of Edinburgh laid a wreath during their state visit to Poland in 1996.
It is Prince William’s first trip to Poland since he visited in 2017 with his wife, the Princess of Wales.