Prince Charles condemns Russian President Vladimir Putin's 'brutal aggression' in Ukraine

ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship on the rare intervention of a Royal

Prince Charles has become the first member of the Royal Family to condemn President Putin's invasion of Ukraine.

The prince called it "an attack on democracy" and said he was standing "in solidarity" with the people of Ukraine who are defending themselves against the Russian attack.

The Prince of Wales was attending an event in Southend-on-Sea with the Duchess of Cornwall as they paid tribute to the former MP, Sir David Amess - who was killed by an attacker at his constituency surgery.

Prince Charles officially conferred City status on Southend today which was approved by the Queen in the days after Sir David's death last October - a campaign the former MP had passionately supported.

Prince Charles: We are in solidarity with all those who are resisting brutal aggression

He called Sir David's killing "a terrible tragedy" and said it was "an attack on democracy, on an open society, on freedom itself".

The Prince Of Wales then moved to speak about the appalling events unfolding in Ukraine.

"We are seeing those same values under attack today in Ukraine in the most unconscionable way. In the stand we take here, we are in solidarity with all those who are resisting brutal aggression."

Prince William and Kate met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his wife Olena in October 2020. Credit: PA

Calling Russian's attack on Ukraine "brutal" is a major step for a member of the Royal Family - an institution which is duty bound to remain politically impartial and one which goes to great lengths to avoid criticising the actions of another country.

But the heir to the throne has been moved by the plight of the Ukrainian people who, as countless news reports have shown, are victims of the invasion and of Putin's attacks in civilian areas.

Prince William and Kate wrote a Twitter post at the weekend in support of Ukraine and said that "we stand with the President and all of Ukraine's people as they bravely fight" for their future.

Ukraine's President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said today that he was "grateful" to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for that message of support.

The President replied in his own Twitter post: "At this crucial time, when Ukraine is courageously opposing Russia's invasion, they stand by our country and support our brave citizens."

"Good will triumph" President Zelenskyy said at the end of his tweet to the Cambridges.

But William and Kate did not go as far as explicitly condemning Russia in their message which is why Prince Charles' criticism today of President Putin's "brutal aggression" is a particularly significant moment for the Royals.