King Charles visits Ukrainian military recruits at Wiltshire camp

Soldiering on! King Charles visits Ukrainian military recruits at Wiltshire training camp one year on from the outbreak of war

  • The monarch, 74, beamed as he shook hands with Ukrainian soldiers today 
  • The royal also greeted a New Zealand recruit with a traditional hongi 
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King Charles has met with Ukrainian military recruits at a Wiltshire training camp to mark one year since the outbreak of war with Russia.

The monarch, 74, was pictured shaking hands with soldiers who are completing their five weeks of basic combat training from British and international partner forces.

The royal was all smiles as he greeted the men, who will return to fight in Ukraine once their training complete.

The King also took part in a hongi – the traditional Maori greeting where two people greet each other by rubbing noses – as he met a solider from New Zealand.

The hongi is an important part of New Zealand’s culture and means the two people are now ‘unified’. 

King Charles, 74, was all smiles as he arrived at the Wiltshire training camp to meet Ukrainian military recruits today

While the soldiers were dressed in full uniform, the King opted for more casual attire for his engagement this morning. 

Along with his camel-coloured corduroy trousers, the royal wore a blue shirt and maroon printed tie.

Braving the cool, cloudy weather, the monarch wrapped up warm in a khaki Barbour jacket with a dark brown lapel. 

After beaming at the men at the beginning of the meeting, King Charles’ demeanour changed as they spoke about the current situation in their home country.

The monarch – who has been fiercely opposed to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – was pictured giving one solider a particularly sympathetic look while discussing the training. 

The recruits are currently completing five weeks of basic combat training before then returning to fight in Ukraine. 

Earlier this month, Charles held a private audience with President Zelensky at Buckingham Palace.

Charles greeted the president with a wide smile and a warm handshake in the Palace’s 1844 Room following Zelensky’s impassioned speech at Westminster Hall in London. 

The King beamed as he shook hands with soliders who are currently receiving five weeks of basic combat training from British and international partner force

King Charles receives the hongi, the traditional Maori greeting from a New Zealander who is part of the Ukrainian contingent training

King Charles cheery demeanour changed as he spoke to soldiers about the situation in Ukraine and learned about their training

Major Tony Harris speaks with King Charles ahead of a trench attack and defence simulation for Ukrainian military recruits

Major Tony Harris speaks to the monarch about the military recruits’ training programme this afternoon

In March last year, Charles said the values of democracy were under attack in Ukraine in the ‘most unconscionable way’

Left: A Ukrainian soldier sits beside a trench network used for training. Right: A general view of a trench network used for training Ukrainian troops in Wiltshire

President Zelensky said meeting the King was a ‘truly special moment’ and referred to Charles’s former military service in the Royal Air Force.

During his second year at Cambridge University Charles was given flying lessons by the RAF and the then prince started training as a jet pilot on 8 March, 1971. 

He said: ‘The King is an air force pilot and in Ukraine today, every air force pilot is a king.’

In May 2022, Charles, then the Prince of Wales, spoke out about the ‘nightmare situation’ in Ukraine during a trip to Romania to meet refugees who have fled the war in their homeland. 

Earlier this month, President Zelensky told King Charles ‘in Ukraine today every air force pilot is a king’ during a meeting with the monarch on a visit to the UK

Speaking through an interpreter, the prince told a group of Ukrainian families: ‘We feel for Ukraine, a nightmare situation. Keep praying.’

In March last year, Charles said the values of democracy were under attack in Ukraine in the ‘most unconscionable way’.

‘In the stand we take here, we are in solidarity with all those who are resisting brutal aggression,’ he said.

Today marks one year since Russia invaded Ukraine. To mark the occasion, President Joe Biden has travelled to the country to express his support for President Zelensky, pledging to to provide $500m more in new weapons.

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