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    An Incredible Gesture: Earl of St Andrews Returns Stolen Book to Poland

    In a remarkable act of cultural restitution, George Windsor, the Earl of St Andrews and great-grandson of King George V, has returned a priceless 1572 copy of “L’histoire de Primaleon de Grece” by Francisco Vázqueza to the National Library of Poland. The book, which had been plundered from the Poles by the Russians in the 18th century, had been in the Earl’s collection for decades before he discovered its stolen origins.

    The return of this historical artefact is not only significant in terms of reclaiming a piece of Poland’s cultural heritage, but it also sheds light on the extensive looting that Poland has endured throughout its history. From the Swedish invasion during the Deluge to the partitions by the Russians, Prussians, and Austrians, and the ravages of World War II by the Germans and Russians, hundreds of thousands of books, artworks, and cultural artefacts were taken from Poland and scattered throughout Europe.

    What makes this act of restitution even more intriguing is the fact that George Windsor speaks fluent Polish. His love for Poland was instilled in him by his grandfather, Prince George, who shared a close friendship with General Sikorski. This personal connection to Poland’s history and culture likely played a significant role in motivating the Earl of St Andrews to rectify the historical injustice inflicted upon the Polish people.

    The return of the stolen book not only represents a step towards righting the wrongs of the past but also serves as a reminder of the importance of preserving and protecting cultural heritage. Such gestures of goodwill and acknowledgement help bridge historical divides and foster cultural understanding between nations.

    The National Library of Poland has expressed its profound gratitude to George Windsor for his extraordinary gesture. The book will now be safely housed in its rightful place, allowing researchers, scholars, and the Polish public to access and appreciate this valuable piece of their literary history.

    This act of cultural restitution by George Windsor sets an inspiring example for others who may possess stolen or looted artefacts. It highlights the importance of researching the provenance of historical items and taking appropriate action to return them to their rightful owners.

    As the world becomes increasingly aware of the significance of preserving cultural heritage, it is hoped that more individuals and institutions will follow the lead of the Earl of St Andrews, contributing to the restoration of cultural treasures and promoting a more inclusive and respectful approach to our shared history.

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