Prince Charles, Princess Diana Visit Hungary
BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) _ Prince Charles on Monday hailed Hungary’s role in ″changing the face of Europe″ as he and Princess Diana began the first official visit by members of Britain’s royal family to a Warsaw Pact country.
The royal couple were met at the airport by their host, newly elected interim President Arpad Goencz, the state MTI news agency reported.
During their four-day trip, the couple will meet with government officials, business officials and artists.
On Monday, Prince Charles visited Parliament, where he met separately with Goencz, Premier Miklos Nemeth and Prime Minister-designate Jozsef Antall, the leader of the center-right Hungarian Democratic Forum.
Last week, Hungary’s new multiparty legislature met for the first time and elected Goencz, a liberal writer jailed for six years after the 1956 anti- Stalinist uprising, as interim president.
Antall, whose party gained the most seats in the March and April elections - the first freely contested since the Communists consolidated power in 1948 - was asked to form the next government. He is seeking to form a center-right coalition with the like-minded Independent Smallholders and the Christian Democrats.
Nemeth formally submitted his Cabinet’s resignation but it will remain as a caretaker government until the new one is formed.
Goencz presided over a gala dinner held for the royal duo Monday night.
At the dinner, Prince Charles said his great-great-great grandmother, Countess Claudia Rhedey, was Hungarian.
″This evening I am especially proud of the Hungarian blood in my veins,″ he said, according to MTI. He praised Hungary’s role in ″changing the face of Europe″ with its early moves toward political reforms.
″Making democracy work is never easy, but the effort is well worth the bother,″ the prince said.
Goencz said Hungary now has a ″unique opportunity ... to irreversibly return to developed Europe,″ the news agency said.
Upon arrival, their first stop was Heroes’ Square, where they placed a wreath at a monument in honor of Hungarian heroes.
About 1,500 people gathered at the square. Many applauded as the couple emerged from their car. The well-wishers included about 100 members of the British community in Budapest.
″I think the princess is beautiful,″ said Janos Nagy, a 21-year-old student. ″I have only seen pictures of her.″
″I came to see how she looks in real life,″ he said, tapping a pair of binoculars.
Amalia Roth, 67, with three grandchildren at her side, said she had been to Britain before World War II as a young girl. ″I love England and felt I must come,″ she said.
The couple’s schedule Tuesday included a speech by Prince Charles at the University of Economics in Budapest. Princess Diana is to view a display of British fashion at the Museum of Applied Arts.
The private jet taking Princess Diana to Hungary diverted to Gatwick Airport shortly after takeoff from Heathrow Airport because of an electrical fault, Buckingham Palace and airport officials said.
The four-engine jet of the Queen’s Flight spent an hour and 20 minutes on the ground at Gatwick while the fault was repaired, said Roger Hamson, terminal duty manager for Gatwick Airport. It then left for Italy, where it picked up Charles before traveling to Budapest.