15 marca 2010
British Royal Couple at the Presidential Palace

On 15th March 2010, the Prince of Wales and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, visited Poland. The couple arrived at the Presidential Palace at 15.30 and, after being welcomed there by the Polish First Couple and devoting some time to the many journalists, the meeting proper started and lasted about half an hour.

"The talks were frank and friendly and the President emphasized the importance of Polish-British relations on both their European and Euroatlantic level," Mariusz Handzlik, Undersecretary of State, said after the meeting.

The visit by the Prince of Wales is a token of friendly relations between Poland and the UK, as well as an opportunity to develop bilateral cooperation in the fields of culture, national heritage, and high minded initiatives addressed mostly at the youth.

On Monday evening, the Polish First Couple held an official dinner for the British Royal Couple. During the dinner, the President underlined that Poland and the UK are now double allies, being members of both NATO and the EU. Raising his glass in a toast, he said that Polish and British soldiers now fight together in Afghanistan and that they had also fought together in Iraq before. In his assessment: "the Polish and the English joining forces in the struggle to defend peace and the basic principles underlying our civilisation has become almost a tradition."

Lech Kaczyński also said that, for Poland, the visit of the British Royal Couple is "both a pleasure and an honour." He added that the British royal family is the best known among Poles.

He highlighted the fact that the cultural ties between Warsaw and London are strong and expressed his gratitude to Queen Elizabeth II for taking the 200th anniversary of Frédéric Chopin's birth under her wing.

The President was also grateful that, from the day of Poland joining the EU - 1st May 2004 - Poles had been allowed to work in the UK. He said that there are Polish schools and institutions in the UK, connected with both the emigration following the Second World War and the most recent wave. "The UK does not make it difficult for us to do what we should be allowed to do simply because we are members of the EU. This is, unfortunately, not so obvious to everyone - there are countries which are much less willing to cooperate," he remarked.

Prince Charles expressed his happiness at being invited to visit Poland. He mentioned that he was in Cracow two years ago and participated in the opening ceremony of a Jewish cultural centre, adding that he has been connected with Poland for many years and that he supported the country after the fall of communism as much as he could. "I did so with great admiration and sympathy for the many years of suffering you had to endure."

He remarked that the relations of Poland and the UK have always been very close. "The United Kingdom kindly accepted those who had to flee Poland after the introduction of martial law," said the heir to the British throne.