Zelensky presents Commons Speaker with real Ukrainian pilot helmet
Volodymyr Zelensky presented Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle with the helmet of a real Ukrainian pilot during a speech in the Houses of Parliament.
The Ukrainian president addressed MPs and peers in a packed Westminster Hall, as a shimmering light streaming through the stained-glass window behind him added to the atmosphere.
The speech, which lasted around 20 minutes, saw the war leader urging the UK and Western allies to supply his air force with advanced jets.
In exchange, he symbolically gifted Sir Lindsay a real Ukrainian pilot's helmet, with the inscription “we have freedom, give us wings to protect it”.
As the gift was brought in, the room broke into thunderous applause.
Sir Lindsay had earlier introduced Mr Zelensky to the Hall, recalling their first encounter in October 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic.
He humorously said: “We hit it off immediately, with much laughter over an English afternoon tea and of course, Chorley cakes.”
Chorley cakes are flattened, fruit-filled pastry cakes, traditionally associated with the town of Chorley, which is the constituency the Commons Speaker proudly represents.
Whilst Mr Zelensky did not acknowledge the frugal bake originating from the north-west of England, he later thanked Sir Lindsay for the “delicious English tea”.
As he concluded his speech, he said: “Two years ago, I thanked you for delicious English tea… I will be leaving the Parliament today thanking all of you in advance for powerful English planes.”
On his way out, the Ukrainian president shared a number of warm handshakes, first with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and then Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and a few other MPs.
Conservative former prime ministers Theresa May, Boris Johnson and Liz Truss were also in attendance.