Prince William follows in late Queen's footsteps on poignant Poland trip

The royal's surprise trip was to personally thank the Polish people for supporting Ukraine over the past year, ITV News' Ben Chapman reports

The Prince of Wales has laid a wreath at a monument dedicated to Polish soldiers who have lost their lives in conflict, during his visit to Warsaw, Poland.

Prince William, on the second day of his surprise trip to the country, placed the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw on Thursday morning. The late Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh did the same during their state visit to Poland in 1996.

The Prince of Wales was greeted by a guard of honour and carried the assortment of flowers to the monument, spending around ten minutes there before leaving.

On the wreath was a note reading: “In memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice”. Passers-by waved to William before he was driven off. The Prince of Wales was later seen greeting members of the public as he arrived at the Hala Koszyki Food Hall in Warsaw to speak to young Ukrainian refugees who have settled in Poland.

Poland, a strong ally of Ukraine, has been one of the largest suppliers of military equipment to the country, and has taken in many refugees.

During his visit to the eastern European country, Prince William also met with Polish President Andrzej Duda at the Presidential Palace.

He expressed his “thanks to the Polish people for their ongoing generosity and hospitality in these turbulent times”.

The prince had earlier said he was looking forward to seeing Mr Duda and wanted to thank him for attending the late Queen’s funeral last year.

Prince William has said the two-day trip will allow him to personally thank troops and “underline” his support and gratitude for the Polish people who have aided Ukrainian refugees.

Prince William talks to a young boy as he visits an accommodation centre, for Ukrainians who fled the war, in Warsaw, Credit: AP

It came after he thanked British troops on Wednesday, roughly an hour’s drive from the Ukrainian border for “defending our freedoms” by “keeping an eye on” the situation in Ukraine. After arriving at the defence military base in the south-eastern Polish city of Rzeszow on Wednesday afternoon, the prince, dressed casually in a black puffer jacket and trousers, was shown a missile launcher.

Speaking to the soldiers, he said: “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. “So, just a big thank you for what you do on a day-to-day basis.” He added: “You’re doing a really important job out here and defending our freedoms is really important, and everyone back home thoroughly supports you.” It is his first trip to Poland since he visited in 2017 with his wife, the Princess of Wales.

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