Queen Elizabeth in Vilnius
Cheering crowds greeted Queen Elizabeth II today as she began her tour of the Baltic states. Union Jacks were aflutter, and the British anthem was given a hearty rendition.
The Vilnius visit marks the Queen's first trip to the region, although as a local historian professor has discovered, it's all in the family.
Clever clogs professor Alfredas Bumblauskas has revealed that the British monarch is descended from Grand Duke Gediminas, who reigned over Lithuania in the fourteenth century:
"Gediminas' grandson Kazimieras had a daughter, Sophia, who was married to a man from the Hohenzollern family of Brandenburg" he told the Associated Press. "This family is part of the Stuart-Hanover dynasty - the one that Elizabeth II comes from." The Professor is hoping to tell the Queen about his finds at a state banquet tonight at the Presidential Palace, a building that Napoleon slept in on his fateful journey to Russia in 1812.
The Queen spoke movingly about the 'blossoming' of the Baltic states that had occurred since the collapse of the Iron Curtain, and made a tribute to Lithuania's Jewish population, which was decimated during the war.
Britain's monarch has been enthusiastically received by the locals, and only a man dressed as a bear provided a slight hiccup. The unidentified fellow was brandishing a placard with the words 'Save My Skin', in protest against the fur hats worn by the Queen's guard at Buckingham palace.
All in all it has been a positive start to the tour, and Queen Elizabeth will travel on to Riga and Tallinn, accompanied by her husband Prince Philip.