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Prince Harry has paid tribute to the "professionalism and bravery" of Estonian troops during the first day of his visit to the little Baltic state.

He paid his respects to soldiers who died fighting for the country by laying a wreath at a national monument in Freedom Square in the Estonian capital Tallinn.

Estonia, a small country of just 1.3 million people which was part of the USSR between 1944 and 1991, is a close ally of Britain and, during a speech, Prince Harry later said the UK and Estonia are "firm friends".

The serving British Army officer said he had been "privileged" to serve alongside Estonian troops while in Afghanistan. Nine Estonian troops have died there.

Crowds of people, many waving Union Jacks, earlier watched as Prince Harry laid a wreath alongside two Estonian servicemen.

A handwritten note attached to the wreath read: "In memory of all those who gave their lives for their country - Harry."

The prince, who it later emerged had flown to Tallinn on a low-cost Easyjet flight, is due to meet President of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, on the second day of his visit to the country, which joined the EU on 1 May 2004.

He will also watch the largest Nato military exercises ever to be held in Estonia before he is then expected to travel to Italy for the final part of his four-day tour.

Prince Harry's trip to Estonia is being seen as a sign of Western support amid fears of a resurgent Russia.

In the Italian leg of his visit, he will join commemorative events marking World War Two's Italian campaign, focusing on the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Monte Cassino.


Prince Harry pays tribute to Estonia's soldiers during visit

BBC News
16 May 2014


The prince is on a two-day visit to Estonia


Estonia was part of the USSR between 1944 and 1991 and joined the EU in 2004

Prince Harry has paid tribute to the "professionalism and bravery" of Estonian troops during the first day of his visit to the Baltic state.

He paid his respects to soldiers who died fighting for the country by laying a wreath at a national monument in Tallinn's Freedom Square.

During a speech Prince Harry later said the UK and Estonia are "firm friends".

The serving Army officer said he had been "privileged" to serve alongside Estonian troops while in Afghanistan.

Crowds of people, many waving Union Jacks, earlier watched as Prince Harry laid a wreath alongside two Estonian servicemen.

A handwritten note attached to the wreath read: "In memory of all those who gave their lives for their country - Harry".

"Your armed forces have built a formidable reputation through their professionalism and bravery in the most testing conditions," he told guests during a reception at Estonia's parliament building.


The prince, a British Army officer who has served in Afghanistan, laid a wreath in Tallinn's Freedom Square


His wreath was accompanied by a hand-written note from the prince


Prince Harry is on a three-day visit to Estonia and Italy


The prince met Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves


He also presented the British Certificate of Commendation to Estonian soldier Martin Valk


Buddies: Estonian Captain Tanel Tarlap, who served with the prince in Afghanistan, was a familiar face. Harry said Captain Tarlap had let him use his computer when they were in the same room in Afghanistan. As the two men met for the first time in more than six years, the Estonian officer smiled and said: "So you could email your girlfriend."

Addressing the guests, which included injured troops, he said: "You get the job done with minimal fuss and I love that."

Prince Harry's trip to Estonia is being seen as a sign of Western support amid fears of a resurgent Russia.

He has visited Estonia's monument to national independence and met Estonian soldiers injured in the Nato mission in Afghanistan.

The expectation from the Estonian government is clear: that Nato should now reciprocate by protecting the Baltics if needed.

So the prince's visit to the largest Nato exercises ever to be held in Estonia is significant.

Some in the West fear a military build-up on Russia's border could provoke Moscow.

But for people in the Baltics a strong military presence here is an essential deterrent and Prince Harry's visit a signal that the West has not forgotten them.

Estonia first sent troops to Afghanistan in 2006, and during Prince Harry's last deployment there, he worked with forces from the Baltic state.

The prince served a 20-week deployment in Afghanistan as an Apache helicopter pilot, ending in January 2013.

His first tour of Afghanistan - as a forward air controller on the front line - was cut short in 2008 after 10 weeks because a media blackout was broken.

"As a nation, we are extremely grateful for your support and for the sacrifice Estonia has made alongside us in recent operations. It is something which we will never forget," the prince said.

"Our countries are firm friends but this friendship continues to grow even stronger, through our shared experiences and goals."

The prince, who it later emerged had flown to Tallinn on an Easyjet flight, is due to meet President of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, on the second day of his visit to the country.

He will also watch the largest Nato military exercises ever to be held in Estonia before he is then expected to travel to Italy for the final part of his four-day tour.


Crowds gathered to see the prince in the Estonian capital, Tallinn





BBC News - Prince Harry pays tribute to Estonia's soldiers during visit
Last edited by Blackleaf; May 18th, 2014 at 05:26 AM..