Prince of Wales makes surprise visit to Poland to thank British troops for 'defending our freedom'

Prince William has made a surprise trip to Poland to recognise British troops for "defending our freedom" as ITV News Correspondent Ben Chapman reports

The Prince of Wales has arrived in Poland for an unannounced two-day visit that has been kept tightly under wraps due to security.

He landed in Rzeszów earlier today, which sits 50 miles from the border with Ukraine, to meet British and Polish troops based in the city.

Prince William began by meeting Poland’s Third Brigade Territorial Defence Force which has been heavily involved in providing support to Ukraine since the start of the conflict.

They have offered logistical help in assisting with the delivery of aid to refugees fleeing Ukraine.

He then travelled to meet British troops from 16 Regiment Royal Artillery who are part of an integrated air and missile defence coalition with the US and Poland.

Prince William thanks Polish and British troops

William toured the base and told the troops: “I just wanted to come here in person to thank you for all you are doing, keeping everyone safe out here and keeping an eye on what’s going on.

“You’re doing a really important job out here and defending our freedoms is really important and everyone back home thoroughly supports you and everything you are doing with the Poles and our Polish counterparts in providing that safety is really important.”

He was personally keen to travel to Poland to thank British and Polish troops.

A spokesperson said: “This is a continuation of the evolution of his role as a global statesperson.

“We talk often about him using his global platform for the good of the environment, via Earthshot.

“But this is the first opportunity for him to take a visit of this kind as Prince of Wales and was important to him given that it is one of the biggest political issues facing every country on the planet.” 

Captain Jason Gilbert, says Prince William's visit meant “a huge amount” to British troops

Captain Jason Gilbert, 16 Regiment Royal Artillery, said it meant “a huge amount” to British troops to welcome William to the base.

He said: “I think it’s hugely important that our people feel supported when they spend a significant amount of time away from their families and their loved ones.

“It’s important to know and feel the unity of the country behind them.”

The Prince of Wales has now landed in the capital of Warsaw where tonight he will visit an accommodation centre for 300 women and children who have recently fled the war in Ukraine.

On Thursday, he will meet President Duda and “reiterate the profound relationship shared by our two nations and underline my continued support and gratitude to the Polish people”.

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