We’ve all been worried about you for so long, King Charles tells Zelensky
The King told Volodymyr Zelensky “we’ve all been worried about you” as he welcomed the Ukrainian president to Buckingham Palace on Wednesday.
His Majesty has been a vocal supporter of Kyiv’s fight against Russia since the invasion last year and he received a personal update on the situation from the president over tea.
Mr Zelensky, who described the audience as a “truly special” moment, told the King it was “a great honour to be here, thank you for finding the time for me”.
In an address to peers and MPs in Westminster Hall earlier in the day, Mr Zelensky mentioned the King’s military service as he made a direct plea for Britain to send fighter jets to his country.
During their half-hour meeting, the King told Mr Zelensky: “We’ve all been worried about you and thinking about your country for so long, I can’t tell you.”
Mr Zelensky replied: “Thank you so much.” He said he had received “big support” from Parliament. The King replied: “I’m so glad.”
In his Westminster Hall speech, Mr Zelensky said meeting the King: “Will be a truly special moment for me, for our country and, in particular, because I will convey to him from all the Ukrainians the words of gratitude for the support His Majesty showed to them when he was still the Prince of Wales.
“And I also intend to tell him something that is very, very, very important, not only for the future of Ukraine, but also for the future of Europe.
“In Britain, the King is an air force pilot and in Ukraine today, every air force pilot is a king for us, for our families, because they are so few, they are so precious, that we the servants of our kings do everything possible and impossible to make the world provide us with modern planes to empower and protect pilots who will be protecting us.”
He finished his speech by saying: “God Bless Great Britain and long, long live the King. Slava Ukraini.”
During a visit to Essex last March, following the murder of the Southend West MP Sir David Amess, the King, who was then Prince of Wales, said he had been deeply moved by the bravery of Ukrainians faced with “terrible aggression” from Russia.
He said: “What we saw in the terrible tragedy in Southend was an attack on democracy, on an open society, on freedom itself.
“We are seeing those same values under attack today in Ukraine in the most unconscionable way.”
Later that week, he and Camilla visited the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in London, as the Russian attacks on key cities intensified.
The King told how he and his wife had been moved “by the extraordinary bravery, generosity and fortitude of the Ukrainian community in the face of such truly terrible aggression”.
Last May, during a trip to Romania to meet refugees, he told a group of Ukrainian families: “We feel for Ukraine, a nightmare situation. Keep praying.”
The King also caused a diplomatic row in 2014 when he compared Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, to Adolf Hitler during a visit to Canada.
Putin, in a direct message to Charles, publicly branded the comments “unacceptable” and said that such remarks were “not what monarchs do”.
The Prince and Princess of Wales then met Mr Zelensky and his wife, Olena, at Buckingham Palace in Oct 2020 on behalf of the late Queen.
Last September, the Princess held a private audience with the Ukrainian First Lady at Buckingham Palace, one of her first engagements in her new role.