Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, arrived in Slovakia at 11:35 on October 23 for her first ever visit to the country.
The royal was first received by President Ivan Gašparovič and his wife Silvia at the Presidential Palace. The Queen was welcomed with military honours and greeted with a traditional Slavic custom - an offering of bread and salt. This was followed by the playing of the national anthems of the two countries, and an inspection of the honour guard. The royal and presidential couples then met for short talks at the palace, where they exchanged gifts.
The royal couple also met with Bratislava Mayor Andrej Ďurkovský, who said the Queen's visit was a testament to long friendship and co-operation between the people of the United Kingdom and Slovakia. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip signed the Golden Book of Bratislava, and received presents from the mayor. The royal couple viewed the historical centre of Bratislava, and stopped at the Main Square to meet the thousands of people gathered and to see a brief performance by the Slovak traditional dance group Lúčnica. Later, the royal couple attended a ceremonial reception organised by British Ambassador to Slovakia Michael Roberts.
The royal couple’s afternoon events continued with a visit to Devín near Bratislava and meeting Slovak World War II veterans that fought on the side of Britain. In Devín, the Queen met with Sir Nicholas Winton, who saved 669 Jewish children from Czechoslovakia from being transported to concentration camps. Present at the meeting were also six of the Slovak children he saved. After a short sightseeing trip at the ruins of Devín Castle, Elizabeth unveiled the Iron Curtain Memorial piece by Slovak artist Milan Lukáč. The first day of the two-day royal visit culminated with a ceremonial banquet at the Reduta in Bratislava, which was attended by more than 120 dignitaries.
On October 24, the delegation will visit eastern Slovakia. The Queen will visit the town of Starý Smokovec in the High Tatras (Poprad region), as well as the tourism resort Hrebienok. In Spišská Sobota (Poprad) the Queen will visit St. George's Church and see the well-known historical altar of Master Paul of Levoča. In a separate program, Prince Philip will take part in a discussion on climate change organised by the British Council in Slovakia. At the conclusion of the visit, the royal couple will visit the ice-hockey stadium in Poprad and officially open a friendly match between HK Aquacity SKP Poprad and the Guilford Flames (visiting from Britain) by dropping the puck for the opening face-off. TASR
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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