LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Prince William and his wife Kate said on Saturday they stood with the people of Ukraine as they “bravely fight” the invasion by Russia, in a rare public comment for British royals on political issues.
“In October 2020 we had the privilege to meet President (Volodymyr) Zelenskiy and the First Lady to learn of their hope and optimism for Ukraine’s future,” Queen Elizabeth’s grandson William and Kate said on Twitter.
“Today we stand with the President and all of Ukraine’s people as they bravely fight for that future.”
The British royal family do not usually comment on major political matters, sticking to a constitutional norm that they should remain neutral.
However, William’s younger brother Harry and his wife Meghan, who have stepped down from royal duties to move to Los Angeles, said on their website on Thursday that they also stood with the Ukrainian people “against this breach of international and humanitarian law”.
During a trip to Canada in 2014, William’s father and heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles caused a diplomatic row when his private remarks that Russian President Vladimir Putin was “doing just about the same as Hitler” became public.
Charles made the comments after Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea province, prompting criticism from the Russian foreign ministry who said the comments were “unacceptable, outrageous” and did not reflect well on the future British monarch.
Buckingham Palace also said on Saturday the queen had accepted advice from Foreign Secretary Liz Truss that a Diplomatic Reception for ambassadors in Britain due to be held at Windsor Castle on Wednesday should be postponed.
It was to have been the 95-year-old monarch’s first major public engagement this year and the first since she contracted COVID-19 a week ago.
The Times newspaper reported that Truss and her officials considered it was the wrong time to hold the event, while others said it could have been used as means of humiliating Russia and Belarus, which has provided assistance in the invasion of Ukraine, by uninviting their diplomats.
(Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Alison Williams and Christina Fincher)