Page last updated at 19:18 GMT, Thursday, 23 October 2008 20:18 UK

Queen meets 'Britain's Schindler'

The Queen meets Sir Nicholas Winton
Sir Nicholas Winton's heroism has earned a Nobel Peace Prize nomination

A British man who saved hundreds of Jewish children from the Nazis ahead of World War II has met the Queen during her visit to Slovakia.

Sir Nicholas Winton, 99, transported 670 youngsters to the UK from what was then Czechoslovakia.

The monarch was accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh on the visit, as part of a four-day tour of central Europe.

Earlier, President Ivan Gasparovic showed her around the presidential palace in the capital Bratislava.

'Incredible man'

Sir Nicholas met the Queen at Devin Castle, on the banks of the River Danube, along with some of the now grown-up children he rescued.

He has been nicknamed "Britain's Schindler", a reference to the German businessman Oskar Schindler who also saved Jewish lives during WWII.

As a 29-year-old stockbroker, Sir Nicholas visited Prague and was so concerned by the treatment of the Jewish population that he started transporting children out of danger.

The Queen was saluted by a guard of honour at the presidential palace

About 70,000 Czech and Slovak Jews are believed to have perished in the Nazi gas chambers and concentration camps.

The Nobel Peace Prize nominee said: "It's nice to know that something one does in one's life was successful."

One of those rescued was Labour peer Lord Alf Dubs, who was in Slovakia to pay his respects.

He said: "I owe him my life, he is an incredible man. I would not be here today if it were not for him."

The Queen was shown the site of the Iron Curtain boundary during a tour of the castle, which is near the border where Sir Nicholas smuggled the children to safety.

Queen in Slovakia
Traditional folk dancers entertained the Queen in the rain

On arrival in Bratislava, the monarch received a traditional welcome gift of salt and bread before watching folk dancing in the central square.

President Gasparovic then showed her the presidential palace, where she was saluted by an 80-strong honour guard.

The soldiers shouted "glory" during the military salute in honour of the royal guest.

The visit followed a two-day tour of Slovenia where the Queen, a keen equestrian, was presented with a Lipizzaner horse.


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