King Charles III's route retraced 25 years on
As King Charles III was crowned at a ceremony in London on 6 May, the UK Embassy held an event in Mojstrana in the north-west of the country to remember his visit to Slovenia 25 years ago.
Slovenia and the UK have a close relationship, and several members of the British royal family have visited Slovenia, including late Queen Elizabeth II, who was on a state visit here with Prince Philip in October 2008.
All of the late queen's children have been to Slovenia. The new king made a two-day visit to the country as Prince Charles in 1998, visiting Bled and Triglav National Park in the north-western region of Gorenjka and the capital Ljubljana.
In celebration of his coronation, the UK Embassy and the Slovenian Alpine Museum in Mojstrana organised an event where they retraced the route of what the prince did at the time; just like him, they climbed up to Peričnik Waterfall and saw an exercise by a team of mountain rescue volunteers.
This was followed by a round-table debate at the museum where the people who were involved in his visit shared their memories. All of those who met him agreed that Charles III will make a good king because of the values he stands for.
UK Ambassador Tiffany Sadler said they wished to mark what is a historic moment for the UK, the Commonwealth and the whole world. At the same time they wanted to celebrate the values promoted by the king, such as supporting nature, volunteering, care for the community and acting in the public interest.
During his official visit the prince saw an exercise by mountain rescuers, visited the Peričnik Waterfall and organic farms and received as a gift a Slovenian beehive that is still in use at his Highgrove estate.
David Lloyd, who served as the UK ambassador to Slovenia at the time, said the programme had been prepared in cooperation with the prince's private secretary, the Slovenian government and the Foreign Ministry.
"He is very very fond of nature, which was partly why we started off at Bled, ... we visited Bled Island and the chapel where the prince rang the bell, and then we came up here [to Mojstrana] in the motorcade and I think this is probably the part of the visit which Prince Charles most enjoyed," Lloyd recalled.
Martin Šolar, the guide during the visit to Triglav National Park, remembered how the prince walked up to the waterfall and behind it. They then visited two organic farms in Radovna, making a spontaneous decision to walk across the meadow to one of them. The prince walked into a cowpat, which did not upset him.
Prince Charles also made an excellent impression on Janez Fajfar, who was director of Villa Bled at the time and later Bled mayor. He welcomed the prince to the villa and walked with him to the pier, from where he took a boat to the island. Fajfar is positive that the prince made an exceptionally good impression on everyone who met him in person. He believes Charles III will make an excellent king.
Lloyd also thinks that Charles III will be a very good king, but that he will be very different from his mother as monarch. "He is a great friend of the environment and that is what he will support to the very best of his ability. He's very much a man of the people too."
Ambassador Sadler has not met the new king yet. Normally, before taking up the post the ambassador meets the monarch, but when she came to Slovenia it was Covid time so she sadly did not meet her late majesty the queen. But she is very much looking forward to meeting King Charles in a couple of weeks' time.
"In some ways I think he will be similar to his mother," she said, noting his commitment to public service. "But he's also his own man," she said, listing his commitment to tackle climate change, commitment to sustainability to the planet, the values that he puts around youth, diversity and multiculturalism.
Attended by some 130 people, mostly Britons living in Slovenia, the event in Mojstrana celebrated the values that bind the UK and Slovenia. The celebration will continue on 8 May in Bela Krajina in the south-east of the country as the countries mark UK-Slovenia Friendship Day.
The event will also be joined by Slovenian President Nataša Pirc Musar, who attended the coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla at Westminster Abbey with her husband Aleš Musar.
"Congratulations to King Charles III and Queen Camilla on today's historic occasion. I wish the new King great wisdom, prudence and good health in his reign," the president said after the coronation. She is confident that the excellent relationship between Slovenia and the UK will continue under the new king.
On the eve of the coronation, the president and her spouse attended a reception for heads of state at Buckingham Palace. Greeting the Slovenian president, King Charles III remembered his 1998 visit to Slovenia, describing it as a beautiful country with beautiful nature.