Queen Elizabeth on first visit to independent Slovenia

Other News Materials 22 October 2008 04:50 (UTC +04:00)

Queen Elizabeth II received a golden tea set Tuesday at the start of her three-day visit to Slovenia, her first since the Alpine-Adriatic republic claimed independence from former Yugoslavia, dpa reported.

Queen Elisabeth II and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, were whisked away from the airport outside the capital Ljubljana to meet their host, President Danilo Turk, at the nearby 16th century castle Brdo pri Kranju.

Upon arrival, the Queen, President Turk and their spouses posed for pictures and exchanged gifts.

She was presented with a tea set with a decoration inspired by London's Big Ben and the carnation - Slovenian national flower, while Turk and his wife were given a book of Holbein drawings from the Windsor archive and a silver trinket box.

At a banquet in the castle, the British royal couple met caretaker Prime Minister Janez Jansa and other officials, as well as local public figures such as the Croatian-Slovenian fashion designer Alan Hranitelj, climate experts Lucka Kajfez Bogataj and others.

Later, the Queen saw a musical performance by members of a British international school in central Ljubljana, then took part in a reception held by the British ambassador in Slovenia Tim Simmons.

On Wednesday, she was due to visit the Lipica stud farm close to Slovenia's Adriatic coast, where she was to be presented with a Lipizzaner horse. The animal would however remain at the stable, reports said.

British Foreign Secretary David Milliband was to take part alongside the Queen in an international conference on sustained development. On Thursday, the royal couple was scheduled to depart for her first visit to Slovakia.

Ambassador Simmons said earlier the queen's visit was a confirmation that Slovenia "has made it" since its split from the former Yugoslavia.

Slovenia claimed independence from Belgrade following a short war in 1991. After a remarkable post-communist transition, it became the first ex-Yugoslav republic to join the European Union and NATO, in 2004.

Elisabeth II has been in Slovenia once before, in 1976, when it was part of the old communist Yugoslavia.

Her son, Prince Charles, visited a decade ago, describing the pretty, petite country, braced by the Alps to the north and the Adriatic to the south, as "one of Europe's best kept secrets."