The Queen showed her solidarity with Ukraine as she stood in front of a large bouquet of blue and yellow flowers during her first in-person engagement since catching Covid with the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Her Majesty received Mr. Trudeau – who is in the UK for talks on the war in Ukraine with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte – inside the Oak Room at Windsor Castle today.
During the visit, the monarch, who is also Queen of Canada, stood in front of a bouquet of blue and yellow flowers – the colours of the Ukrainian flag – in what appeared to be a subtle display of the royal’s support with the war-ravaged country.
The subtle tribute comes just days after the Queen reportedly made a ‘generous donation’ to the Disasters Emergency Committee’s Ukraine appeal.
The palace did not announce the donation and declined to say how much was given but the charity publicly thanked the monarch on social media earlier this month.
Her Majesty’s show of solidarity comes as hundreds of civilians were today pictured trying to flee the city of Irpin, to the west of Kyiv, which has been the scene of heavy Russian bombardment in recent days.
Residents were helped across a partially-destroyed bridge by members of the Ukrainian military who had to blow it up days earlier to slow the Russian advance.
The images came after Ukraine rejected Russia’s offer to open up ‘humanitarian corridors’ from the besieged cities of Sumy, Mariupol, Kharkiv, and Kyiv – which have been hammered by artillery strikes for days with Mariupol cut off from electricity and water supplies – because the routes led either to Russian territory or its ally, Belarus.
That is after two attempts to open up similar corridors at the weekend failed after less than an hour because Russian troops resumed shooting. Red Cross workers trying to use one corridor out of Mariupol said the route had been booby-trapped with landmines.
Today the EU’s top diplomat, Joseph Borrell said as many as five million refugees could flee into the bloc if Russia’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine continues.
The UN said today that 1.7million have fled the conflict in the first 11 days, which is the fastest-growing refugee crisis since the Second World War.
During Mr. Trudeau’s visit today, the Canadian Prime Minister was seen smiling and laughing with the Queen as she gestured towards herself during the meeting in the Oak Room sitting room.
The head of state was not pictured with the walking stick she has been using of late.
The Queen has a strong bond with Canada and the Commonwealth realm has been her most frequent overseas destination.
She has visited more than 20 times, including a trip as a princess, but a number of years ago she called time on her official overseas visits.
As a young child in the 1970s, Mr. Trudeau met the Queen several times through his father, Pierre Trudeau, who was one of Canada’s longest-serving prime ministers.
Mr. Trudeau later spoke warmly of their meeting.
‘I have had the particular privilege of having known Her Majesty for about 45 years now, and I can tell you that in my conversation with her this morning she was as insightful and perspicacious as ever, very interested in what is going on, asked me all sorts of questions about Canada,’ he told a Downing Street news conference.
‘We had a really useful, for me anyway, conversation about global events, as we always do.’
The Queen tested positive for Covid on February 20 and has spent the last two weeks carrying out only light duties including a handful of virtual audiences.
Last Tuesday, the Prince of Wales said his mother was ‘a lot better now’, and the head of state was pictured holding her first virtual audience since her coronavirus diagnosis.
The Queen has two high-profile events coming up – the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey on March 14, and then the Duke of Edinburgh’s memorial service, also at the Abbey, on March 29.
The nation’s longest-reigning monarch, who reached her Platinum Jubilee milestone last month, recently spent more than three months resting, on doctors’ orders.
Last autumn she pulled out of attending the Cop26 climate change summit, the Festival of Remembrance, and then the Remembrance Sunday Cenotaph service due to a sprained back.
She also missed the Church of England’s General Synod.
The Queen now regularly uses a walking stick and remarked during a Windsor Castle audience last month: ‘Well, as you can see, I can’t move.’
Mr. Trudeau is joining Mr. Johnson as part of intense diplomatic efforts with foreign leaders to build a united front against Vladimir Putin.
It comes as Russian and Ukrainian delegates today sat down for the third round of peace talks after Moscow told the country it will stop its onslaught ‘in a moment’ if Kyiv meets a raft of extraordinary Kremlin conditions.
As the two sides met for a third round of talks in Belarus today, spokesman Dmitry Peskov said all of Russia’s demands had been formulated and handed over during the first two rounds of talks between delegations, which took place last week.
‘We hope that all this will go OK and they will react in a suitable way,’ Peskov said.
The Russian deal demands Ukraine cease military action, change its constitution to enshrine neutrality so it cannot join the EU or NATO, acknowledge Crimea as Russian territory, and recognise the separatist republics of Donetsk and Lugansk as independent territories.
It is the most explicit Russian statement so far of the terms it wants to impose on Ukraine to halt what it calls its ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine, which is now on its 12th day and has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of civilians.
A Kremlin spokesman insisted Russia was not seeking to make any further territorial claims on Ukraine, despite the advance of Moscow’s troops.
‘We really are finishing the demilitarisation of Ukraine. We will finish it. But the main thing is that Ukraine ceases its military action. They should stop their military action and then no one will shoot,’ he said.
It is not clear how many civilians have been killed in the fighting so far. Ukraine said last week that 2,000 had died but has not updated the figure since.
The UN has confirmed 406 civilian deaths but cautions that it is likely a vast undercount. Russia completely denies hitting civilian targets, despite reams of evidence to the contrary.
Moscow’s representatives at the International Court of Justice at The Hague today skipped a hearing into whether or not war crimes are being committed.
Source: Daily Mail