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Prince Charles visits refugees in surprise visit to Romania

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BUDAPEST, Hungary – Prince Charles traveled to Romania’s capital Wednesday to visit refugees, mostly women and children, from Russia’s war in Ukraine who have found safety in the neighboring Eastern European country.

The Prince of Wales visited the Romexpo Donation Center for Ukrainian refugees in Bucharest, accompanied by Princess Margareta, 73, known as the Custodian of the Romanian Crown as the heir to the last king of Romania and to the now-defunct Romanian monarchy. (The two are distantly related, as descendants of Britain’s Queen Victoria.)

At the donation center, Charles, 73, met some of the nearly 1 million Ukrainians who have reached Romania since the war began on Feb. 24, and observed the relief effort being mounted by the government and volunteers.

The visit was not announced in advance. Clarence House issued a statement from the British Embassy in Bucharest on Wednesday that said Charles sought to see first hand “the excellent response of the Romanian authorities and of international and local organizations to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.”

Speaking to a group of Ukrainians through an interpreter, Charles apologized for his lack of language skills, saying, “I wish my Ukrainian was better.”

“We feel for you greatly, it’s a nightmare situation,” he said. “I’m full of admiration for the Ukrainian people. Total, extraordinary courage and resilience.”

During his visit, Charles received a gift from some of the Ukrainian children at the center: wooden spoons painted in traditional Ukrainian patterns.

Prince Charles gestures during a welcoming ceremony at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace in Bucharest, Romania, May 25, 2022. The Prince of Wales was in Romania to meet with Ukrainian refugees.

“Marvelous, thank you, thank you,” Charles told one of the children. “I love the way you painted that.”

Joining Charles were representatives of the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and the UN refugee agency, as well as the mayor of Bucharest and members of other state relief agencies.

More than 1,000 Ukrainians visit the donation center daily to get free supplies like food, hygiene products, clothing and shoes, according to the managers of the facility. Refugees also have access to social services and counsel while they remain in Romania.

Prince Charles speaks with Ukrainian refugees as he visits a refugee center at the Romexpo exhibition center in Bucharest, Romania, on May 25, 2022.

The visit was the latest of a number of engagements Charles has had with Ukrainian refugees in recent weeks. Last week, during a three-day trip to Canada with his wife, Duchess Camilla of Cornwall, he visited a Ukrainian community in Ottawa and met with a family displaced by the war.

The prince is known for his humanitarian concerns and is closely linked to charities offering support to Ukrainians, including serving as president of the British Red Cross.

More than 972,000 Ukrainians have fled into Romania since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, according to the UN refugee agency.

Celebrities help Ukraine:‘Real Housewives’ alum Bethenny Frankel raises more than $ 85 million for Ukrainian refugees

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