Ukrainian President Zelenskyy visits King Charles, addresses Parliament in surprise U.K. visit

Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a surprise visit to Buckingham Palace, where he was hosted by King Charles before addressing the British Parliament.

“It is an honor for me to be the first President of Ukraine in the history of Ukrainian-British relations to be honored by the British monarch with an audience,” Zelenskyy wrote on Instagram Wednesday.

The BBC reports King Charles told the Ukrainian leader the British people have been worried for Zelenskyy and his countrymen since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022. Zelenskyy, 45, thanked Parliament for supporting his country’s dogged defense, which has reportedly led to nearly 200,000 Russian casualties. Ukraine is believed to have suffered more than 100,000 military casualties along with tens of thousands of civilian deaths.

Charles, 74, ascended to the British throne in September following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II. Zelenskyy said he congratulated King Charles on his accession and wished “peace and prosperity” for the British people.

The Ukrainian president, who renewed his plea for combat aircraft in his Wednesday address to Parliament, referenced the King’s aviation experience.

“In Britain, the King is an air force pilot,” Zelenskyy said. “And in Ukraine today, every air force pilot is a king.”

King Charles trained as a Royal Air Force jet pilot in 1971 before studying at the Britannia Royal Naval College.

“We know freedom will win,” Zelenskyy told Parliament. “We know Russia will lose.”

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s office reportedly said the defense department is “investigating” the possibility of providing jets to Ukraine as part of a long-term plan, but the prime minister acknowledged that does not address Ukraine’s “short-term capabilities.”

According to the Independent, British officials approved a training program for Ukrainian pilots while the defense secretary “actively” considers further actions.

The Russian embassy warned of “military and political consequences for the European continent and the entire world” if Britain provides combat jets to Ukraine, Russia’s state-owned news agency TASS reported.