The Duchess of Cornwall has sympathised with a Ukrainian family who fled to Canada but left the father behind to fight, saying “we are so behind you”.
Camilla and the Prince of Wales chatted to the mother and her children when they met members of the Ukrainian community at a cathedral in Ottawa.
The Very Reverend Volodymyr Kouchnir, dean of the St Sophie Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Montreal, praised the royal family’s support of the eastern European country which has seen the prince and his wife, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, meet Ukrainians living in the UK.
During the day, Charles said the need to transition to green energy had been “hugely magnified now by the energy crisis that has emerged from the conflict in Ukraine”.
His comments came during a meeting with around 40 economic and business leaders including Mark Carney, the former Governor of the Bank of England, and Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau.
Olha Rudenko left her family’s home in Lutsk in March and travelled with her two sons Stanislav, 16, and Lukian, nine, to safety in Canada while her husband remained to join his country’s forces combating the Russian invasion.
The duchess asked her: “Are you coping? It must be so very hard,” when they met at the Blessed Virgin Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral.
After hearing her story, she added: “We are so behind you. We do worry about you so much.”
Asking after the children, and hearing that they had started school but the youngest had yet to speak the language she reassured them: “Very very soon he’ll be speaking English.”
The dean told the prince and his wife: “Today, your country is truly a friend to Ukraine.
“Having extended a helping hand to our military but also as fellow citizens of our planet.
“We shall never never never forget that.
“We are sincerely grateful to the royal family, to Her Majesty, and to you for personally for your help and support for the Ukraine which today is fighting for democratic values and the chance to live as part of the European family.”
During the visit the couple experienced some of Ukraine’s culture from women in traditional costumes to a performance by a choir and Camilla was invited to make painted eggs, using a delicate wax technique, and said: “I’ve always admired these eggs so much. Are you going to show me?”
Later Charles praised Canadian families and teachers for welcoming immigrants to their communities, saying: “You’ve created a wonderful environment for everyone.”
Charles and Camilla were greeted by dozens of flag waving children at the Assumption School in Ottawa.
The school has been heralded as a centre of excellence in helping “newcomer” children from across the world settle into their new lives and achieve top grades against the odds.
Together with local government agencies the teachers care for between 50 and 100 children at any one time, who have set up home in Canada from countries such as Ghana, Nigeria and Chile.
Kindergarten teacher Stacey Simmons had Charles laughing when she told him her class of four and five year olds were “excited to meet a prince”, before adding: “I think they were expecting someone from Disney.”
Ms Simmons said: “The Prince was asking how we manage with all the families, but we have built a real community here that we are very proud of.
“He said we had created a wonderful environment which makes me very happy.”
Later during his roundtable meeting Charles said he subscribed to the belief of Canada’s Indigenous people that “we need to think seven generations ahead to have any chance of making sure we leave a better world”.
“What we do today fundamentally impacts the future of our children and grandchildren.”
Arguing the world needs to put itself on a more “war-like footing” to meet the challenges, he echoed his G7 speech to say the private sector must step in to help governments raise the “trillions of dollars” required to compare the climate “emergency”.
“Tweaking existing mechanisms may not be enough,” the prince said, calling for the “ingenious minds” of Canada to lead the way in finding solutions.
Doing nothing, he concluded, “is the greatest risk of all”.