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Edward Bernard Raczyński (July 19, 1891July 30, 1993) was a Polishmarker aristocrat, diplomat, writer, politician and President of Poland in exile (between 1979 and 1986).

He was both longest living (102), and oldest Polish President (took office at 88, left at 95).


Relief of the Raczyński family comital coat of arms
Count Edward Bernard Maria Raczyński was born July 19, 1891 in Zakopanemarker, to a Polishmarker aristocratic family. His father was Count Edward Aleksander Raczyński of Nałęcz Coat of Arms, and his mother Róża née Countess Potocka. The Raczyńskis were related to the Austro-Hungarian house of Habsburgs. The full name was "Raczyński z Małyszyna", as they were a branch of the noble family Nałęcz-Małyski from Greater Poland (the area of the town of Wieluńmarker) and about 1540 took their name from the estate of Raczyn near Wieluń. However, the Raczyńskis remained relatively unknown until the 18th century, when four of them became Senators of Poland under different reigns. One of the Raczyńskis became a Knight of the Order of the White Eagle during the reign of king August the Strong, six of them were awarded the Virtuti Militari order during the time of Duchy of Warsawmarker and three received the same distinction during the November Uprising of 1831. The title of Count was awarded to different branches of the family by Prussian Kings Friedrich Wilhelm III (in 1824) and Wilhelm II (in 1905). One of their kin was a Knight of the highest Prussian Order of the Black Eagle.

Raczyński spent most of his childhood in Krakówmarker, in the family palace Pod Baranami and in the family manor in Rogalinmarker in Greater Poland. He studied law at various universities in United Kingdommarker and Germanymarker. He was also awarded with a doctorate of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków. In 1919, Raczyński started working in the Polish diplomatic core in various posts. Initially he was one of the creators of the Polish embassy in Switzerlandmarker, the first Polish permanent representation in that country. Until 1925, he was also working in Polish embassies in Copenhagenmarker and Londonmarker. Afterwards he was transferred to Warsawmarker, where he became the head of the department of international agreements. The same year Raczyński married Joyous née Markham, daughter of a British coal mining mogul. His wife died soon afterwards and on August 25, 1932 he married his second wife, Cecylia Maria née Jaroszyńska, by whom he had three daughters. Earlier the same year Raczyński was appointed Polish ambassador to the League of Nations and in 1934 he became the ambassador of the Republic of Poland in the United Kingdommarker. His cooperation with Józef Beck resulted in signing the Polish-British alliance in 1939.

Following the Polish Defensive War Raczyński remained in London where he continued to serve as the ambassador of the Polish Government in Exile and one of its prominent members. Between July 22, 1941 and July 14, 1943 he was also the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs in the cabinet of Władysław Sikorski.

After 1945, when the government of the United Kingdom broke the pacts with Poland and withdrew support for the Polish government, Raczyński remained in Londonmarker, where he acted as one of the most notable members of Polish diaspora there. He was active in various political and social organisations in exile, including the Fundusz Pomocy Krajowi (Help for the Country Fund) which actively supported the democratic opposition in communist-controlled Poland. Between 1954 and 1972 he was one of the members of the Council of the Three, the collective presidential body of the Polish government in exile. He was also a member of the Committee for Polish Affairs and an advisor of various British governmental agencies and ministries.

In March 1979, Raczyński became President in exile, after been previously chosen by outgoing President Stanisław Ostrowski. Due to very advanced age (88) of the new President, his accession (but not person) meet a strong criticism, because many were simply concerned about possibility of his near death. His inauguration was boycotted by many circles. Regarding these concerns, Raczyński immediately announced that his successor will be Prime Minister Kazimierz Sabbat, which meet another criticism, this time from the American emigree community, displeased that his chosen successor was not from outside the circle of 'London Poles'..

During the Raczyński presidency the Solidarity movement was established in Poland. Many began to feel that end of communist rule was coming. The end finally came in 1989. Raczyński played an important role in raising awareness of these events in Western countries and in establishing closer ties with country.

President Raczyński considered naming Władysław Bartoszewski as his successor, as he wanted to chose someone "outside emigration", "from country" and with strong ties to opposition in Poland. Bartoszewski, however, graciously refused an offer.

After serving the 7-year term he resigned from his post on April 8, 1986. He was the last Polish President-in-Exile who had held an important office during the era of the 2nd Republic: his successors, Kazimierz Sabbat and Ryszard Kaczorowski were in their twenties when WWII broke out. As he leaves office he received a praise for uniting an emigration and reshaping Government in exile.

On December 18, 1991, at the age of 100, Raczyński married, his third wife, Aniela Lilpop, thus legalizing a union of many years. Edward Raczyński died July 30, 1993, in Londonmarker as the last male descendant of his line. He is buried in the mausoleum of his family in Rogalin. In his testament, Count Raczyński bequeathed his family palace in Rogalinmarker and his library to the Polish people. He was the longest living Head of State in Poland's history and one of the very few centenarians among European politicians of the 20th century.


Raczyński's Works
  • Edward Raczyński, The British-Polish Alliance, Its Origin and Meaning; London 1948
  • Edward Raczyński, W sojuszniczym Londynie. Dziennik ambasadora Edwarda Raczyńskiego 1939–1945; London 1960. ISBN 0-85065-287-1
  • Omar Khayyám, Rubayat. Polish translation by Edward Raczyński, London, 1960.
  • Edward Raczyński, Rogalin i jego mieszkańcy. London, 1969. ISBN 83-919577-0-5
  • Edward Raczyński, Pani Róża (a Biography of his mother), London 1969. ISBN 83-901583-2-9
  • Edward Raczyński, Od Narcyza Kulikowskiego do Winstona Churchilla. London 1976
  • Edward Raczyński, Czas wielkich zmian. Paris 1990. ISBN 2-85316-064-5
Family History
  • Simon Konarski, Armorial de la Noblesse Polonaise titrée, Paris 1958

See also


  4. Michał Komar, Władysław Bartoszewski, Skąd pan jest? (a long interview). Świat Książki, Warszawa, 2006

External links

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