Tens of thousands turn out as Poland’s first couple are buried in elaborate state funeral

Daily Mail [UK]
18 April 2010

An elaborate state funeral for Poland’s President Lech Kaczynski and his wife, Maria, began this afternoon bereft of many world leaders whose travel plans were paralysed by the plume of volcanic ash that has covered Europe.

The couple’s bodies were flown from Warsaw to Krakow early this morning for the tradition-laden ceremony and burial in the nearby Wawel Cathedral, the final resting place for Poland’s kings, poets and statesmen.

President Barack Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were among the leaders who cancelled at the last minute because of the expanding volcanic ash cloud.

‘All the French people will be, in their thoughts, with the Polish people’ on Sunday, Mr Sarkozy said in a letter sent to acting president Bronislaw Komorowski expressing his regret for being unable to attend.

The volcanic ash did not deter everyone. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev flew by plane from Moscow for the funeral.

His presence was further sign of the warming ties between the two countries, which had been strained for centuries, and recently because of communism and the 1940 Katyn massacre.

Others, including the leaders of Baltic and Balkan states, came by car for the stately event.

Despite the dearth of global dignitaries, no-one said the funeral should be postponed.

‘I wouldn’t move the funeral,’ said Bartek Kargol who was among thousands of people waiting for the event Krakow.

‘This event is for our president.’

The article continues, with additional photos, at the Daily Mail.

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[Above] People wave Polish flags and a giant portrait of late Polish President Lech Kaczynski as they gather on Krakow’s market square in front of the Basilica of Our Lady.

[Below] People greet the convoy carrying the coffins of late Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his wife Marta in Krakow

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