The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit Poland and Germany
Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are undertaking an official tour to Poland and Germany this week, the 17th to 21st of July. This visit is at the request of The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and is Their Royal Highnesses’ first official joint visit to Poland and Germany. The Duke made an official visit to Germany last summer.
As with previous tours, Their Royal Highnesses have asked that this tour allow them opportunities to meet a wide variety of people in both countries. In addition to meeting leaders in business, government and civil society, The Duke and Duchess will prioritise opportunities to meet the young people of both countries; from entrepreneurs, to mental health campaigners, and bright young talents in music and the arts.
The tour will also take in the stunning scenery and architectural feats of Poland and Germany. The Duke and Duchess will wander through the beautiful market of Gdansk flanked by terracotta houses and cobbled pathways; they will take part in a rowing race on the Neckar River; and they will tour the spectacular Elbphilharmonie Concert hall in Hamburg.
The five day tour will also include time acknowledging the complex 20th century histories of each country with visits to the Warsaw Rising Museum, Stutthof Concentration Camp, and the Berlin Holocaust Memorial. At each location Their Royal Highnesses will meet survivors of these periods, who will describe their personal experiences.
The tour begins with The Duke and Duchess arriving in Warsaw at midday on the 17th, after which they will be greeted by President Duda and the First Lady at the Presidential Palace, who will officially welcome Their Royal Highnesses to Poland.
From here they will travel to the Warsaw Rising Museum, which is dedicated to the uprising of 1944 which saw the Polish resistance Home Army attempt to liberate Warsaw from German occupation. The Polish resistance was defeated after 63 days of fighting, but is remembered as the largest single military effort by any European resistance movement during World War II. Their Royal Highnesses will tour the museum, and meet with veterans before lighting candles in memory of those involved in the Rising.
Their Royal Highnesses will next visit the Heart in the Warsaw Spire building, joining young Polish entrepreneurs. The Heart is a business incubator with impressive panoramic views of Poland’s capital, and is home to a range of exciting new business start-ups. The Duke and Duchess will join a busy, bustling event which includes a tech market-place, and pitching sessions from Polish start-ups. This event will mark the beginning of a ‘Warsaw-London bridge’ initiative that aims to help small Polish businesses access London’s unique opportunities for scaling up to become global players.
That evening the Royal couple will travel to the picturesque Orangery in Łazienki Park, where the British Ambassador will host a Queen’s Birthday Party. Here in front of 600 invited guests, The Duke will give a speech, which will close the first day of the tour.
Day two starts with a trip to the former Nazi Germany Concentration Camp, Stutthof. Stutthof was the first camp set up outside German borders, in September 1939, and one of the last camps liberated by the Allies, in May 1945. 110,000 people – men, women and children – from 28 countries were imprisoned in Stutthof, of whom as many as 65,000, including 28,000 Jews, died. During their visit, Their Royal Highnesses will meet a group of five former prisoners of the camp.
Following their morning at Stutthof, the Royal couple will travel to Gdansk. This handsome port city is located on Poland’s northern Baltic coastline. It is awash with colourful buildings, and narrow cobbled streets, with numerous shops devoted to amber, the city’s most prominent export. In the central market square Their Royal Highnesses will join a street party where they will be offered Goldwasser – a Gdansk liqueur, and traditional Polish pierogi, while watching amber craftsmen at work, and listening to local musicians and artists who will contribute to the festive feeling.
From here they will visit the Gdansk Shakespeare theatre, of which The Prince of Wales is Patron. During the seventeenth century there was a large English-speaking community based in Gdansk, which made the city an important destination for travelling English players. The Shakespeare Theatre opened in 2014, and is home to the city’s annual Shakespeare festival, attended by theatre-lovers from around the world. The Theatre has an adaptable auditorium which allows for three different sized stages, and a retractable roof. Their Royal Highnesses will see the roof opening during a special performance, before attending a small reception inside the theatre for Poles from the world of arts, culture and media.Their time in Gdansk will end with a trip to the European Solidarity Centre, in Gdansk’s shipyards the birth-place of the Solidarity movement in Poland. The Duke and Duchess will tour the museum there, and meet with founding members of Solidarity. On departure Their Royal Highnesses will walk through the iconic shipyard gates, a key symbol of the protests during the 1980s, before laying a wreath at the foot of the Solidarity Monument. This visit will mark the end of the second day, as The Duke and Duchess return to Warsaw for the night.
Day three will see Their Royal Highnesses bidding farewell to Poland, before beginning the German element of the tour in the capital, Berlin. The Duke and Duchess will start the day’s engagements with a private meeting with Chancellor Merkel. This will be The Duke’s second meeting with the Chancellor; they first met during his trip to Düsseldorf last year.
Following this Their Royal Highnesses will visit the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin’s most famous landmark and a symbol of German unification. The Royal couple will say hello to crowds gathered on Pariser Platz in front of the Gate, before making their way to the Holocaust Memorial. Here they will tour the museum before walking through the Memorial itself.
The afternoon will see The Duke and Duchess travel to the eastern district of Marzahn. They will visit Strassenkinder, a charity which supports young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, including homeless children. In the charity’s youth club, Their Royal Highnesses will spend time with some of the young people who have received help from the charity, as well as meeting individuals from the Robert Enke Foundation. Set up in memory of the footballer, this organisation raises awareness of mental health issues, particularly in sport.
The Royal couple will then return to the west of the city, and meet with President Steinmeier at the Bellevue Palace.
That evening, Their Royal Highnesses will attend a Queen’s Birthday Party held in the gardens of the British Ambassador’s residence. The Duke of Cambridge will give his second speech of the tour during this reception.
Day four includes a visit to one of Germany’s most enchanting cities, Heidelberg, which has been twinned with Cambridge since 1965. Just south of Frankfurt, surrounded by thick forest, this is the oldest university town in Germany.
The Duke and Duchess’s first stop in Heidelberg will be the German Cancer Research Centre. They will meet researchers and visit the stem cell research lab to learn more about the important work being done there.
Their Royal Highnesses will then proceed to the centre of Heidelberg, situated by the riverside and overlooked by the ruins of its famous castle. They will wander through the central market square, on which a British-German market will be set up offering local food and drink before the Mayor of Heidelberg leads the way to the River Neckar.
There, The Duke and Duchess will embark on a rowing boat each for a friendly competition, joined by rowers from both Cambridge and Heidelberg. The winners will be congratulated at the finish line, before The Duke and Duchess return to Berlin.
That evening, The Duke and Duchess will attend a reception in the vintage mirrored hall of Clärchens Ballhaus. Opened in 1913, Clärchens is one of the last remaining old ballrooms in Berlin, and will play host to a reception for some of the most creative, innovative, and exciting new names in the world of art, culture, style, fashion and technology in the city.
Day five will see The Duke and Duchess visit Hamburg which is Germany’s second largest city, and home to its largest harbour. It is known for its strong links to the UK, which go back to the Hanseatic League in the 13th century. The first stop for The Duke and Duchess will be the Maritime Museum on the bank of the river Elbe. Here The Duke and Duchess will celebrate the joint UK-German year of science, which this year is focused on oceans.
Their Royal Highnesses will make their way further through Hamburg’s dockside warehouse quarter to the Elbphilharmonie. Opened in January 2017, the “Elphi” was built with the aim of creating a new city landmark. It is one of the biggest concert halls in the world and renowned for its advanced acoustics. The Duke and Duchess will join the orchestra on stage, before listening to a special performance by the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra. The audience will be filled with children from all corners of the city, with the aim of inspiring a new generation to develop a passion for music and perhaps play at the venue in years to come.
The Duke and Duchess will then depart by boat and travel down the River Elbe to their final destination for this tour: Airbus. The company’s base in Hamburg is home to production, maintenance and training facilities. The couple will tour the complex and meet apprentices, both German and English. The Duke and Duchess will then visit the final assembly line of an A320 aircraft and view the cockpit of a near-complete plane.
This engagement will close The Duke and Duchess’s tour to Poland and Germany, and Their Royal Highnesses will depart from there to the UK.
Before I close I have one further point to add. The Duke and Duchess are very much looking forward to this tour and are delighted with the exciting and varied programme that has been put together for it. They have decided that their children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, will travel with them and we expect the children to be seen on at least a couple of occasions over the course of the week. They look forward to a busy and impactful tour and are grateful that they will have the opportunity to meet the Polish and German people – such important friends of the United Kingdom – as a family.
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