Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II might visit Latvia toward the end of 2006, although officials are not confirming the information, the news agency LETA reported Jan. 2.
LETA said the information came from an unidentified foreign affairs source.
The visit, former Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs told LETA, would be evidence that Latvia is not a small country that can be bypassed. Birkavs also told the news agency that the queen’s potential visit may have been spurred by U.S. President George W. Bush’s visit to Rīga last year, as well as the coming NATO summit set for November in Rīga.
Similarly, Atis Lejiņš, director of the Latvian Institute of Foreign Affairs (Latvijas Ārpolitikas institūts) in Rīga, told LETA that the queen’s visit would be evidence of good relations between the United Kingdom and Latvia, and would draw increased media attention to Latvia.
Queen Elizabeth II would not be the first high-ranking British official, nor the first royal, to visit Latvia. Prince Charles came to Latvia in 2001—although his visit was tainted by the now-famous carnation incident, when a young woman slapped the prince with a flower as he shook hands with well-wishers in the streets of Rīga.
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