Queen determined to help Ukrainians as royals deeply moved by refugees' plight


Senior officials in the Royal Household are looking into what extra practical measures they can take to provide support to what is expected to be an influx to Britain of people fleeing the war in eastern Europe. Palace officials have begun looking at the question after the Belgian royal family announced plans to open up three of its properties to house Ukrainian refugee families.

Britain’s Royal Family has stopped short of making a similar commitment so far but a Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said: “The Royal Household is looking at a number of ways to offer practical help and support.”

Aides declined to expand on what type of practical help the Firm might be able to provide.

The Queen, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have already made donations to a coalition of 15 British charities working on the Disasters Emergency Committee Ukraine appeal, which has raised £200 million in a fortnight.

Charles and William have also spoken out in support of Ukrainians resisting Russian aggression and the Queen’s cousin, Prince Michael of Kent, has returned a prestigious Russian honour, the Order of Friendship, to the Kremlin in protest at the invasion of Ukraine.

William and Kate have also offered to use their Royal Foundation to help provide support for Ukrainians suffering mental health problems after the horrors they have witnessed.

The Queen and her family own dozens of properties at various private estates across the country in addition to official residences such as Buckingham Palace, Clarence House, Windsor Castle, Kensington Palace, and the Palace of Holyroodhouse. 

Royal commentator Joe Little said there would be security concerns at some locations but he thought there would be available properties at others that could house refugees. 

“You’d think there would be some properties available at Sandringham and Balmoral that are not necessarily needed at this time of year,” he said. 

Both are privately owned by the Queen but the Royal Household does also rent out properties on the estates of official residences and it is possible some of those might be vacant at the moment.

Mr Little suggested that another practical way the Royal Household might be able to help was by allowing staff time off to volunteer and help at reception centres or charities greeting Ukrainian refugees arriving in Britain.

The fresh look at what can be done to help came after Belgium’s King Philippe and Queen Mathilde agreed to make three royal properties available for refugee families.

King Philippe approved the plan after twice in one week meeting refugees arriving in Belgium.

The Royal Trust, a charity created in 1900 to manage family assets in Belgium, said property in Brussels and Wallonia would be available to house refugees by early April. A third property on the outskirts of Brussels previously used as a vaccination centre will also be offered. 

The trust manages 79 castles and other buildings across Belgium and its president, Jan Smets, said the three properties had already been earmarked to provide accommodation for low income families.

He said the Belgian royals supported the idea of housing refugees and added: “King Philippe and Queen Mathilde too are very concerned about the fate of Ukrainian refugees.”

Belgium is expecting to receive more than 200,000 people from Ukraine and has already taken in 10,000.


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