“Prince Philip and I are very pleased to be joining you here in recognition of what I hope will be an ever-deepening friendship for many years to come," said Queen Elizabeth II at a banquet in Bratislava held by President Ivan Gašparovič on the occasion of the royal couple’s first visit to Slovakia.
The queen’s two-day visit from October 23-24 included a tour of Bratislava’s Old Town, where she met thousands of people on Main Square, a trip to Devín Castle and a visit to the High Tatras, where she dropped the puck to open an exhibition match between the local Poprad team and a side from Guildford in England.
Her majesty also met with Sir Nicholas Winton, a Briton who saved hundreds of Jewish children in Czechoslovakia from being deported to death camps.
The Queen said that the transformation that has taken place in Slovakia in the 16 years of its independence has "happily coincided with the growing and enduring engagement between our nations forged in many fields.” Her visit, she said, “comes at a moment in our history when our two countries work side by side in the European Union, serve as allies in NATO and recently sat as colleagues at the UN Security Council.
"Here on the river Danube, Slovaks have long been on the cross-roads of history. You have witnessed the coronations of kings and queens, the signing of peace treaties ... caught behind the line dividing East from West for so long, Slovakia has now asserted its place in a common European home," she said.
25. Dec 2008 at 0:00 | Compiled by Spectator staff from press reports