Address by President Andrzej Duda on the Royal Castle
Honourable Chapters, Honourable Knights of the Orders, Madam Prime Minister,
Mr Deputy Prime Minister, Distinguished Guests!
This is a momentous occasion for me, a moment of great honour, since I have become a knight of Poland's two premier orders, the orders with glorious tradition, and most importantly, the tradition related to the independent Poland.
The Order of the White Eagle with its 310 years’ standing, a symbol of our freedom, used to be presented back in the days when Polish people believed they lived in a free country.
Not always was it a Poland in its original great boundaries, for the Order was presented in the days the Polish Kingdom, in the days of the Duchy of Warsaw. But there was always a belief that the Order was tantamount to freedom, and there was always solicitude to make sure it is conferred on the most prominent people, the ones of exceptional merit to the Republic of Poland.
The Order of Polonia Restituta boasts a shorter but also grand tradition: the Second Republic of Poland, year 1921. Today in Poland which regained its sovereignty and independence, its former style has been restored: the eagle has regained its crown, the year 1918 has reappeared, replacing the temporarily inserted year 1944.
Today I would like to offer this assurance to my compatriots but also to all of you, Ladies and Gentlemen: I will do my utmost to invoke, together with the Chapters of those Orders, their very best traditions. So that they are bestowed on worthy people who went down the annals of Polish history as important figures, people of really outstanding merits to the Republic of Poland. This is important, it is important for building our tradition since those Orders and their award also contribute to the building up of our tradition, our history.
We have ahead of us two great anniversaries of events of fundamental import in the history of Polish statehood: the 1050th anniversary of the Baptism of Poland next year, and subsequently, the 100th anniversary of regaining independence. With all certainty, they are going to be very exceptional events. I do hope that these prestigious, premier Polish Orders will also contribute to the celebration of those events, being presented to deserving people. This way, the history of the two Orders will unfold, but also the history of the Republic of Poland.
Coming to the close, I would like to make one point: I take the conferral of the Orders on me, which made me their knight, as a great commitment. By that I mean not only the effort which should be made each time to emphasize the dignity they carry, also by the selection of those who will be awarded, but also because right now I do not feel I have deserved them. And what I wish to say is: I will go to great lengths to make sure that at the end of my term the Polish people would deem me worthy of them.
Thank you very much.