Princess Diana’s first official act as a member of the royal family in her new role as Princess of Wales was an audience with Olena Zelenska, the First Lady of Ukraine, at Buckingham Palace on Sunday.
After Queen Elizabeth II’s death on September 8, her father-in-law, King Charles III, legally named his son, William, Prince of Wales, a title the current king had held for almost fifty years, making Kate Princess of Wales in the process.
Since her mother-in-passing law 25 years ago this year, Princess Diana, Kate has been the only member of the royal family to use the title of Princess of Wales.
Kate meets Ukrainian Olena Zelenska on her first solo duty as Princess of Wales
In his inaugural speech to the country, King Charles III emphasized the importance of his son and daughter-in-law and the leadership responsibilities they would play during his reign.
One day following the queen’s death, William said, “Today, I am happy to establish [William] Prince of Wales, Tywysog Cymru, the kingdom whose title I have been so much fortunate to hold through so much of my life and duty.”
I am certain that with Catherine at his side, our new Prince and Princess of Wales will continue to inspire and lead our national dialogues, bringing the voices of the marginalized to the front so that they may get much-needed assistance.
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Kate, now the Princess of Wales, will take on more royal responsibilities as the second-most senior female member of the royal family after Queen Camilla.
On Sunday, she formally met Olena Zelenska, the First Lady of Ukraine, at Buckingham Palace, the first of these tasks she has fulfilled in her own right.
This is Zelenska’s first time attending a state funeral, and she is in London to attend the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. Since Ukraine is still fighting off Russian invaders, President Volodymyr Zelensky decided against making the trip personally.
Princess of Wales: Photos of the first lady and princess’s visit to Buckingham Palace show the two ladies seated together in a dark chamber.
It was not their first encounter with one another. In 2020, Kate and William greeted Zelenska and her husband at the palace on the queen’s behalf.
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In the midst of their trip to Europe to meet with leaders, the president, and the first lady made a stop in Britain to address the rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine.
A few days after Zelensky’s meeting with then-British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and then-Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, the UK announced that it would send £5 million in humanitarian assistance to help Ukraine.
After meeting the Zelenskys and thinking kindly of them, William and Kate conveyed a personal message of solidarity to the Ukrainian people when unrest broke out in February. A portion of the letter stated as follows: “In October 2020 we had the honor of meeting President Zelenskyy and the First Lady to hear their vision for Ukraine’s future.
While the President and the people of Ukraine heroically struggle for a better future, we at W & C are proud to stand with them.
The president then tweeted his appreciation to the couple for their vote of confidence.
The Prince and Princess of Wales are visiting Army Training Centre (ATC) Pirbright to meet with troops from the Commonwealth who will be involved in Her Majesty's funeral.https://t.co/FvIy5uqiJ1 pic.twitter.com/B2KVdCxiS1
— Chronicling Kate (@ChroniclingKate) September 16, 2022
Olena and I are thankful to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge @RoyalFamily for standing by our nation and supporting our brave folks during this critical moment, as Ukraine valiantly opposes Russia’s aggression. He said, In the end, good will win.”
When fighting broke out on Ukraine’s western border with Russia, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle became the first members of the British royal family to publicly express support for the nation.
A statement via their Archewell charity and a speech at the NAACP awards in February reiterating their support drew criticism online, with British journalist Piers Morgan among those who remarked, “This will truly scare Putin.”
In October 2020 we had the privilege to meet President Zelenskyy and the First Lady to learn of their hope and optimism for Ukraine’s future.
Today we stand with the President and all of Ukraine’s people as they bravely fight for that future 🇺🇦 W & C
— The Prince and Princess of Wales (@KensingtonRoyal) February 26, 2022
The Daily Mail and The Sun both published columns attacking the pair for their public display of affection.
President Zelensky did not issue a public declaration of gratitude to the Sussexes despite their words of support.
The fact that Kate’s first official task as Princess of Wales was a meeting with diplomatic overtones is a testament to the gravity of her new position.
Through her marriage, the queen has been cautious about taking on more responsibilities, instead spending time getting to know herself and the topics she cares about.
This conference is unusually high-profile since it is being held at Buckingham Palace in preparation for a banquet for international leaders before the queen’s state burial. Diana, the last Princess of Wales, did not have this degree of responsibility throughout their marriage.
The Princess will play a pivotal part in the state burial, walking behind the casket with her husband and two children, Prince George (age 9) and Princess Charlotte (year 7), at Westminster Abbey.