The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge today visited the Polish city of Gdansk as their European tour continues, with stops at a concentration camp, the Shakespeare theatre and the museum for the European Solidarity Movement for William and Kate.
Today’s engagements began with a somber visit to Stutthof Concentration Camp. The camp was the first German death camp to be established outside German borders in 1939, and was amongst the last of the camps to be liberated at the end of the Second World War. It is estimated that of the camp’s 110,000 inmates, some 65,000 died, either due to execution or the appalling living conditions.
William and Catherine toured the site, which has exhibits portraying the conditions in which the inmates lived. They were accompanied on their walk by Piotr Tarnowski, Director of Stutthof Museum.
The Duke and Duchess then met with former prisoners of the camp and spoke with them about their experiences; Zigi Shipper and Manfred Goldberg were reunited today, meeting for the first time since leaving the camp. William and Kate then paid their respects at the Star of David memorial, which commemorates the 28,000 Jews who died at Stutthof, as well as the Jewish people who lost their lives in the Holocaust. As the couple viewed the memorial, Jewish survivors of the camp, Zigi and Manfred, said prayers.
Before departing, William and Catherine signed the museum’s visitor book.
After the morning’s solemn engagement, William and Kate then visited a traditional Polish market in the town centre of Gdansk. Huge crowds were waiting in the market square to greet the couple, who have received a very warm welcome from the Polish people.
During their visit to the market, the Duke and Duchess sampled some local delicacies, including famous Polish pierogi (stuffed dumplings) as well as Goldwasser, a traditional liqueur which contains flakes of gold – a drink suitable for royalty! They also watched a demonstration of amber processing; Gdansk is famous for the production of this gemstone.
It was revealed today that Catherine received an amber necklace as an official gift, reflecting the stone’s importance in Poland, while William was gifted amber cufflinks. The Duchess was already wearing milk amber jewellery – head over to our sister site, Replicate Royalty, for information on Kate’s outfit.
The gathered crowds were treated to traditional music by Cappella Gedanensis, a famous Polish musical group. In the square, William and Kate also spoke with some British soldiers, who belong to the Light Dragoons.
The next stop was the Shakespeare theatre in Gdansk. The theatre was established in 2014 and reflects Gdansk’s history as a popular destination for travelling English actors in the 17th Century, due to the city’s large English-speaking community. William’s father, Prince Charles, is patron of the theatre. The royal duo were invited to watch a special performance, before attending a reception with key figures from the Polish arts and media.
William and Catherine then ended the day with a tour of the European Solidarity Centre and Museum, which is based in the city’s shipyards, and commemorates the location where the anti-Communist movement was founded in the 1980s. The royal couple were accompanied by Lech Walesa, who served as President of Poland between 1990 and 1995, becoming the first freely-elected leader in over 60 years. Walesa also co-founded the Solidarity movement.
The Duke and Duchess meet former President Wałęsa, who explains the history of the solidarity movement in Poland. pic.twitter.com/FBV2CItxLe
— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) 18 July 2017
Touring the museum, the couple learnt how democracy flourished after the Communist regime lost its grip on Poland. A key feature of the centre is its solidarity wall, which is covered in messages by people from all over the world. William and Catherine then added their own cards to the wall, each placing a single rose, white for Kate and red for William, at the shipyard’s monument to Fallen Shipyard Workers. This memorial represents the 42 people who died during 1970, when the Communist regime suppressed a shipyard strike.
This evening, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will spend their final night in Warsaw, before they depart for Germany tomorrow.