Princess Anne visits home for the elderly in Prague

Princess Anne (middle) with Livia and Vaclav Klaus, photo: CTK

Britain's Princess Anne is in Prague this week for an official visit. Having spent Sunday at the annual steeplechase in Pardubice, where she handed out the trophy to the victor, the Princess arrived in Prague on Sunday evening, dining at Prague Castle with President Klaus and his wife. On Monday morning she attended a memorial ceremony at the Commonwealth Monument in Olsansky cemetary, before proceeding to what was for some residents a very special visit to the Sue Ryder Home, an old people's home in Prague run by British charity the Sue Ryder Foundation.

Princess Anne  (middle) with Livia and Vaclav Klaus,  photo: CTK
The Princess' visit to the Sue Ryder Home honours the Home's important contribution to enriching the daily lives of many elderly people in Prague. The Home is part of the international network, the 'Sue Ryder Foundation'. The Foundation was established in 1953 by British Baroness Sue Ryder, in response to the mass suffering caused by the Second World War. The legacy of the war is something that is still evident at the home in Prague - at least one member of the home is a former Czech serviceman in the Royal Air Force.

Many residents in the home have connections with England. As a student, Miroslava Tumova, attended University College London, and is now a resident in the home. I asked her how she felt about the visit.

"Well it's a great honour for us, naturally. Two or three years ago it was her brother who came to Prague, and also wanted to see what the Sue Ryder home looks like and how the people feel, and they were so thrilled. Also there was one of them an old teacher, from Prague, she was more than ninety years old, and Prince Charles wanted to know when he heard that she was a teacher whether she was still in contact with her pupils and how she feels about this wonderful home. We talked such a long time together, he wanted to see the people half an hour afterwards, and they had to drag him away from us."

Princess Anne,  photo: CTK
On her tour of the home, the Princess Royal had tea with two British women who had married Czech pilots during World War Two and are now residents. She also paused to talk with the staff and managers of the home outside the construction of what is to be its new unit for residents with Alzheimer's disease. Marketa Bowe is head of Health and Social Care:

'It's amazing from a practical point of view. It helps mainly in attracting the sponsors, but we say that for our staff who are absolutely amazing. They work for a really small amount of money, often less than in a state institution, so it's also a great reward, and of course our clients were extremely excited and flattered that she did come to see us.'

Tomorrow, the Princess will attend the opening of a building of the English International School in Prague, as well as the handing out of Duke of Edinburgh awards to Czech participants in the scheme.