Prince William, Kate Middleton and their children Prince George and Princess Charlotte arrived in Poland Monday as part of a five-day tour of that country and of Germany.
They are following a similar itinerary as President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania Trump, who visited Poland two weeks ago ahead of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.
When it comes to foreign tours by members of the British royal family, the focus generally isn’t on serious diplomatic matters but on fashion, photo ops at cultural sites and waving to cheering crowds.
Trump, in contrast, had serious things to say. He used his visit to Warsaw to voice his fears about the decline of Western civilization and to try and bolster ties with a leadership that he views as hospitable to his nationalist message.
But William and Kate actually have serious work ahead of them. Their visit to Warsaw comes at a precarious time in U.K.’s relations with its European allies, as well as with the United States. According to the office of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the British government is hoping “to reap some diplomatic benefit” from a trip involving its popular young couple, Newsweek reported.
The U.K. very much needs to drum up good will on the continent, as Brexit negotiations begin and the U.K. begins to disentangle itself from the European Union, Newsweek said. While in Poland, William, the grandson of Queen Elizabeth II and the second in line to the British throne, and his wife will be expected to do all they can to remind the Polish people of the strength of the social, cultural and economic ties between the two countries.
Their Brexit “charm offensive,” as some are calling it, may involve the brief deployment of special weapons — George and Charlotte. The young prince, 3, and his sister, 2, accompanied their parents to meet President Andrzej Duda and Poland’s First Lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda, the BBC reported.
The parents then joined President Duda and his wife at the presidential palace to greet well wishers.
By the way, there were no reports of any awkward handshake moments involving William and Kate, as there had been when Trump and Melania visited, and the president he went to shake Kornhauser-Duda’s hand, but she first turned to greet Melanie. Many news outlets reported on this “snub” and said Trump look briefly confused.
And much as William and Kate’s trip doesn’t involve U.K.-U.S. relations, people in Poland and elsewhere won’t be able to resist measuring how the British royal couple comport themselves in comparison to the U.S. president and his wife.Trump reportedly is pretty unpopular in the U.K., so much so that the White House has put off a presidential visit to that country that was scheduled for the fall, due to concerns about large protests.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are internationally admired for their poise, restraint, glamour and charm. In her two foreign visits with her husband, the once reclusive Melania has acquitted herself well, also gaining winning admiration for her poise, restraint, glamour and charm.
And then there is Trump.
His presence in Poland was sure to be regarded as more diplomatically significant than William’s. Then again, the American president’s designation as leader of the free world is facing challenges domestically and internationally due to Trump’s performance in office and his controversial positions on the Paris Agreement, NATO and Russia and President Vladimir Putin.
At an evening garden party in Warsaw, William showed off his lifetime of diplomatic training. He said all the right things, telling guests — in Polish: “Good evening, we hope you have a nice party.”
It’s hard to imagine Trump trying to summon a couple of words in a second language.
William hailed Poland’s “courage, fortitude and bravery” in surviving centuries of assaults, particularly its “incredible bravery” during the Nazi occupation. And Kate stood by his side, looking regal in a sleeveless white dress by Polish designer Gosia Baczynska.
In Germany later this week, Chancellor Angela Merkel will hold a private meeting with the royal couple in Berlin before they visit the Brandenburg Gate, a symbol of German unification, the BBC said. The duke and duchess will also visit Berlin’s Holocaust museum and memorial.
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