Watch: “The Duke of Edinburgh calls me Fred because he can’t pronounce my surname!”

For the first programme in‘s new book-related series Between the Lines, Coryse Borg interviews the charming and charismatic author Leon Zawadzki.

Zawadzki, who is a retired soldier, counts among his acquaintances Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh – who calls him Fred as he cannot pronounce his surname – and a copy of his autobiography, Son of a Reluctant Immigrant can be found in Buckingham Palace.

From childhood onwards, Zawadzki says, he attracted different shades of racism and prejudice, leading him to ponder, “What’s in a name?”

Putting pen to paper to tell his story, the realisation that he has lived this question through different experiences while growing up, later on in the British Army and upon his return to being a civilian dawned on him.

“I’ve been close to death; I’ve saved lives. But I consider myself a normal person.”

Zawadzki’s journey and international experiences, immersion in, and close contact with history, has attuned his understanding of a world that is constantly changing, of decisions being taken and lives altered. For many, these journeys have spelled endings. He realises with introspection, that the immigrant’s identity has never left him.

Son of a Reluctant Immigrant is published by Faraxa Publishing. More information may be obtained from the website or Facebook page.

Filming: Malcolm Agius

Editing: Coryse Borg