Dame Helen Mirren shares ‘powerful’ poem at London Trafalgar Square vigil for Ukraine

Dame Helen Mirren shared a ‘powerful’ poem at a vigil held for Ukraine at London’s Trafalgar Square

Dame Helen Mirren was among speakers at a vigil held to mark a year since the Russian invasion of Ukraine last night (February 23). Hundreds of people gathered in central London in solidarity with Ukraine, while speakers shared poems and words of reflection to mark the event.

Oscar-winning actress, Dame Helen Mirren read an English version of a Ukrainian poem, ‘Take Only What Is Most Important’ by Serhiy Zhadan, while addressing the crowds in Trafalgar Square, London.

“Unedited lists of the dead. So long there won’t be enough time to check them for your own name,” the poem reads.

It also includes the line: “You will not return and friends will never come back.”

At the end of her reading, an emotional Mirren described it as a “powerful” and “important” poem.

She added: “But I think you will be back. Peace for Ukraine, democracy for Ukraine and freedom for Ukraine.”

Russia’s war in Ukraine began on February 24, 2022. Hundreds of people gathered at 6pm on Thursday, the eve of the conflict’s anniversary at an event jointly coordinated by the US and Ukraine embassies. A large screen was lit up with the phrase ‘slava Ukraini’ - ‘glory to Ukraine’ - a Ukrainian national salute that has become known as the battle cry of the fight against Moscow.

Crowds gathered draped in Ukrainian flags, Ukrainian pop-rock band Antytila also performed via video link, accompanied by a live dance performance in Trafalgar Square and singer-songwriter Jamala Bird performed Ukrainian songs.

British actress Helen Mirren delivers a speech on stage during a vigil in Trafalgar Square, central London
British actress Helen Mirren delivers a speech on stage during a vigil in Trafalgar Square, central London
British actress Helen Mirren delivers a speech on stage during a vigil in Trafalgar Square, central London

To mark a year since the war first broke out, a section of a London street will be renamed Kyiv Road to mark the first anniversary. The new name covers a small section of Bayswater Road, running from Palace Court to Ossington Street, and is a short distance from the Russian embassy.

Leader of Westminster City Council, Adam Hug, said the new road name was "a fitting gesture" to commemorate Ukraine’s inspiring bravery.