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Among the thousands of filmed tributes to our late Queen, it is certainly one of the most remarkable – given the circumstances in which it was made.
“Dear brothers and sisters from Britain, the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is a tremendous loss to the entire civilized world,” the young man begins.
‘She was more than the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, she was the Queen of her time. Her Majesty had fought against evil 80 years ago, against the Nazi threat. Today we are fighting a new threat to the entire civilized world.”
Why remarkable? As the eulogy is uttered on social media by a Ukrainian soldier in full camouflage and body armor, traveling at high speed in a jeep along a forest trail near Kharkiv.
He is taking part in the counter-offensive that recaptured huge swathes of territory this weekend as the Russian frontline collapsed.
His message ends: ‘Please accept these condolences from all Ukrainian fighters. God protect the king!’ And so he goes into battle.
Since Thursday, a growing number of floral tributes and messages have been left outside the British embassy in central Kiev. One of the messages, in both Ukrainian and English, read: ‘With great gratitude and respect to Her Majesty the Queen for supporting the Ukrainian nation in the struggle for the right to exist’
Perhaps no other country outside the Commonwealth had revered the Queen as much as Ukraine, nor reacted with such heartfelt sadness and regret after her death on Thursday.
It represented not only certain values of decency and civilisation, but also Britain’s outstanding support for Ukraine after the Russian invasion in February. It was noted that the support also came from her own pocket.
In March, the Disasters Emergency Committee, which represents the British Red Cross and 14 other groups, thanked the Queen for her “generous donation” to her appeal in Ukraine.
Other subtle signs of her sympathy for their cause were recognized by Kiev. A bouquet of blue and yellow flowers – the Ukrainian national colors – featured prominently in photos when the Queen received Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at Windsor Castle.
An artillery unit has decorated the casing of the shells it is to fire at Russian positions with messages to show their “sincere gratitude and respect for the remarkable leader of a great country.”
In May, during one of her last public appearances, the Queen chose to wear an outfit in the same colors.
This prompted Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal to post on social media: “Ukraine will remember Her Majesty’s invaluable support.”
Having spent several months in Ukraine since the Russian invasion, I can testify that she is there. On a number of occasions at military checkpoints in faraway places, my British credentials elicited the same warm greeting from soldiers: ‘God save the Queen.’
In recent days, there have been other tributes to her from the Ukrainian military.
An artillery unit has decorated the shells of the shells it is to fire at Russian positions with messages to show their “sincere gratitude and respect for the remarkable leader of a great nation.”
One read ‘RIP Queen Elizabeth II’, the other ‘glory to the Queen’. Since Thursday, a growing number of floral tributes and messages have been left outside the British embassy in central Kiev. One of the messages, in both Ukrainian and English, read: “With great gratitude and respect to Her Majesty the Queen for supporting the Ukrainian nation in its struggle for existence.”
It represented not only certain values of decency and civilisation, but also Britain’s outstanding support for Ukraine after the Russian invasion in February. It was noted that the support also came from her own pocket
One of the many bouquets was accompanied by a note: ‘Condolences from the residents of Hostomel.’ This is the satellite city and airport of Kiev that was bitterly fought over from the first day of the war until April.
Evidence of that long-standing Ukrainian admiration can be found on the gable of a house in the village of Yely zavetivka, near Dnipro.
In the summer of 2019, a huge wall portrait of the Queen was unveiled there. The village’s name — which was hit by Russian missiles only last month — is derived from the Ukrainian name Yely zaveta, which translates into “Elizabeth” in English.
Now, as the infantryman’s tribute suggested, Ukrainians look to King Charles for continuity. The mutual admiration between a disputed nation and the British monarch seems to remain steadfast.
Additional reporting by Oleksandr Kostiuchenko in Kiev