July 2017 saw the city visited by probably the most famous royalty on the planet when the UK’s Prince William and Princess Catherine visited Gdansk as part of a two-day visit to the country.
The couple began their day at the Stutthof Concentration Camp 50km to the east of the city. They were shown around the remains of the camp, the first to have been created outside of Germany by the Nazis, by two men who had survived and later settled in the UK. Arriving by car to the centre of Gdansk in mid-afternoon, William and Kate waved to huge crowds which had gathered in the square to catch a glimpse of them before being shown into a private room in the city’s landmark Artus Court (Dwor Artusa).
Here they took a moments rest where the team behind the famous local restaurant Pod Łososiem (historically known as Der Lachs) had prepared refreshments including soft drinks, coffee and homemade cakes. The Royal Couple were then given a small tour of Artus Court by Gdansk president Pawel Adamowicz before being presented with some of the city’s most famous products.
First Master Amber Craftsman Zbigniew Strzelczyk of the Amberstyl Gallery and Workshop demonstrated how amber is polished and shaped using traditional methods developed over many centuries in what is considered the home of ‘Baltic Gold’. Mr. Strzelczyk presented the Royal Couple with two nuggets of amber containing prehistoric fauna and flora as souvenirs of their visit.
The couple were then presented to Mieczysław and Damian Robakowski, the owners of the Pod Łososiem restaurant, who gave them the opportunity to taste some of the city’s most famous food and drink. The couple were presented with pierogi with a choice of fillings – Chanterelles, Cherry, Duck, Salmon and Crayfish, Veal and finally Wild Strawberry.
Princess Kate tried the salmon and crayfish while Prince William chose the Chanterelle mushroom filling. They also both tried the original Der Lachs Goldwasser, to which they commented on its surprising strength. The table that had been prepared for them also included bottles of beer brewed at the local Amber Brewery and Miodula, a unique aged Polish vodka liqueur made with honey. Only 4,000 bottles of Miodula (Miód is the Polish for honey) are produced each year, with 500 going straight to the president of Poland to be used for diplomatic gifts. These were presented as gifts by the Pod Łososiem restaurant, Prince William promising to try them that evening on their return to Warsaw.
The owners of Pod Łososiem have promised to add the Salmon and Crayfish pierogi to their menu as the Princess Catherine pierogi where they will appear alongside the veal pierogi, chosen by Pope John Paul II when he visited the restaurant in 1999. (You might also be interested to know that In Your Pocket can offer you the chance to learn how to make pierogi too).
Following a walk about where they met thousands of flag-waving Poles and foreign tourists, the royal couple were next taken onto the Shakespeare Theatre to meet the director and cast. The British Royal Family have a close connection to the theatre as William’s father, Prince Charles, has been a patron of the theatre since the early days of the planning to build it.
From here they were taken to the European Solidarity Centre at the Gdansk Shipyards where they were shown the remarkable permanent exhibition telling the story of the Solidarity movement before they met its iconic leader and former Polish president Lech Walesa. They concluded their visit to the city by laying a wreath at the Monument to the Fallen Shipyard Workers outside the Gdansk shipyards.
The visit generated huge press interest in Poland and was very well-received by the local people who were clearly delighted to have had a chance to see royalty, effectively gone from Poland since the end of the 18th century, on Gdansk’s old Royal Way.
You can see more pictures of William and Kate’s visit here or watch a video made by the local city government (in Polish).
Author: Martin Kitson
Martin is a native of London who has lived in Europe for close to 20 years. These days he calls Sopot home from where he writes the Gdansk In Your Pocket guide, among other things. He is married with three children and enjoys history, sport and exploring new places.