UK

Prince Charles lays a wreath in Athens on first full day of visit to Greece

Prince Charles and wife Camilla are spending their second day in Greece where they are marking the country’s 200th anniversary of independence from Ottoman rule. 

The couple are attending the Bicentenary Independence Day celebrations, following an invitation from Greece’s prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. 

This morning, the pair attended the Greek Independence Day Military Parade at Syntagma Square in Athens. 

Charles and his wife arrived at Athens International Airport on the government’s official RAF Voyager plane, only the second time it has been used following a controversial £900,000 makeover, including a Union flag tail.

They were greeted by officials before visiting the National Gallery and attending an official state dinner at the presidential mansion where Charles gave a speech to mark the 200-year anniversary in which he stressed that Greece ‘can count on her friends in the United Kingdom’.

In his speech, Charles said he was ‘delighted’ to be back in Greece, as he paid tribute to the country where his father was born almost 100 years ago.

At an official state dinner at the presidential mansion in Athens, the heir to the throne hailed the ‘strong and vital’ ties between the UK and Greece, and gave a nod to the 99-year-old Duke of Edinburgh’s link to the country.

Philip was born a prince of Greece and Denmark, allegedly on the kitchen table of his family home, Mon Repos, on the Greek island of Corfu, in 1921. 

This morning, the couple attended the Greek Independence Day Military Parade at Syntagma Square in Athens

Charles at the Monument of the Unknown Soldier, a memorial dedicated to Greek soldiers killed during war, where he took part in the wreath laying

Charles at the Monument of the Unknown Soldier, a memorial dedicated to Greek soldiers killed during war, where he took part in the wreath laying

Charles and Camilla's two-day visit to Greece is at the request of the British Government following an invitation from the country's prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis

Charles and Camilla’s two-day visit to Greece is at the request of the British Government following an invitation from the country’s prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis

In previous years, thousands of people waving Greek flags have lined the main streets of central Athens to watch the March 25 parade, which was a more subdued event due to the coronavirus pandemic

In previous years, thousands of people waving Greek flags have lined the main streets of central Athens to watch the March 25 parade, which was a more subdued event due to the coronavirus pandemic

A blanket was placed over the Duchess of Cornwall's lap as they prepared to watch the parade

A blanket was placed over the Duchess of Cornwall’s lap as they prepared to watch the parade 

The Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall at the Greek Independence Day Military Parade at Syntagma Square

The Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall at the Greek Independence Day Military Parade at Syntagma Square

People watched the spectacle from balconies of a nearby building overlooking the square

People watched the spectacle from balconies of a nearby building overlooking the square

Speaking at the dinner, which had 45 guests in total and was hosted by Ms Sakellaropoulou, Charles said: ‘My wife and I could not be more delighted to be back in Greece, which has long held the most special place in my heart.

‘After all, Greece is the land of my grandfather; and of my father’s birth, nearly one hundred years ago, in the centenary year of Greek Independence.

‘Later, it was in Athens that my dear grandmother, Princess Alice, during the dark years of Nazi occupation, sheltered a Jewish family – an act for which in Israel she is counted as ‘Righteous Among The Nations’.’

Charles also said that Athens wants to enact his ambitious Terra Carta, or Earth Charter, which has parallels with the Magna Carta.

It aims to encourage the private sector to safeguard the planet by adopting sustainability and to invest 10 billion dollars (£7.3 billion) in ‘natural capital’ by 2022. 

Greece is aiming to reopen its borders to foreign tourists from May 14. Visitors will be required to have been vaccinated, had a recent negative Covid-19 test or have coronavirus antibodies.

Charles has previously described Greece as ‘the land of my grandfather’, a reference to Prince Philip’s father, Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, whose own father was the assassinated King George I of Greece.

Andrew’s elder brother, Constantine, became king but was forced to abdicate and most of the royal family, including Andrew, were exiled.

Charles recalled how his first visit to Greece more than five decades ago had left a ‘vivid impression’ on him.

He also emphasised the need to work together to rebuild society after the pandemic, particularly when it comes to the environment, saying: ‘As we all work to rebuild our societies and our economies from this year of previously unimaginable upheaval, and to set our world on a more sustainable path, perhaps we can take some inspiration from the courage, determination and ambition of 1821.

‘Once again, the stakes could hardly be higher. The choices we make will determine the fate not only of our nations, but of this singular planet which we all share.’

Charles and Camilla landed at Athens International Airport at just before 5.30pm local time on Wednesday. 

Today, the couple are attending a wreath laying at the Memorial of the Unknown Soldier and watch the Independence Day Military Parade which marks Greece’s uprising against the Ottoman Empire in 1821.

In previous years, thousands of people waving Greek flags have lined the main streets of central Athens to watch the March 25 parade.

The brief tour will be Charles’ third official visit to Greece following his first in 1998 and a further trip in 2018 with Camilla, her first official visit to the country.

The couple have already travelled overseas during the Covid-19 pandemic, visiting Germany in November for a brief two-day trip to attend commemorations marking the country’s National Day of Mourning. 

Last July, Charles said he hoped to visit Greece again after the pandemic. Clarence House announced the visit to Athens last week in a statement.

In an opinion piece for Ta Nea, a daily newspaper in the country, he sent his ‘heartfelt wishes to the people of Greece at this very difficult time’.

He added: ‘The resilience of Greece and her people has been tested before, and I hope that the country will once again emerge with renewed vigour and optimism.

‘When that moment comes and the world has made its way through this challenging time, my wife and I do so hope to visit Greece and to see you all again. Until we meet again.’ 


Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button