The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall wrapped up their official visit to Athens on Thursday, taking part in bicentenary independence celebrations around the city.
Their day began at a wreath-laying ceremony at the Monument of the Unknown Soldier and a Greek Independence Day Military Parade at Syntagma Square, joining other dignitaries in paying tribute.
The Monument of the Unknown Soldier is dedicated to Greek soldiers who have been killed during war; it was sculpted between 1930 and 1932 by Fokion Rok and features inscriptions of battle locations during the First and Second Balkan War, World War I, the Russian Civil War and the Greco-Turkish War.Embed from Getty Images
During the Greek Independence Day Military Parade, Prince Charles and Camilla viewed the flypast of an RAF Voyager. Following the parade, the royals joined President Katerina Sakellaropoulou and her partner for tea at the Presidential Mansion.
Prince Charles was reported to have told President Sakellaropoulou that he and Camilla were “enormously touched” that they were invited to Athens for the bicentenary celebrations and that “the great thing is it has been possible” to travel and be a part of the events.Embed from Getty Images
Following their tea, the royals joined the presidential couple on a visit to the Presidential Guard Barracks to inspect the first rank and learn more about the Guards’ history. As a gift, Prince Charles received a miniature Greek military uniform, and he, in turn, gifted the Guards with a framed photo of Prince Philip as a child dressed in the Evzone Guard uniform.
Prince Charles then departed for a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the Maximos Mansion while the Duchess of Cornwall met with representatives of Greek charity Diotima, which works for women’s rights and providing support to domestic violence survivors. She also met with police officers tasked to the newly-created Domestic Violence Unit.Embed from Getty Images
Following his meeting with the Greek Prime Minister, Prince Charles departed for a meeting with the Mayor of Athens, Kostas Bakoyannis, and the Greek Minister for Foreign Affairs, Nikos Dendias, at Athens City Hall. Prince Charles also met with business representatives and CEOs who have signed onto his Terra Carta environmental guidelines.
During this meeting, the Prince received the Gold Medal of Honour for the City of Athens. This is Athens’s highest honour and is usually reserved, per Clarence House, “for Heads of State, Heads of Government or other senior dignitaries for services to the City or to the Greek nation more widely, following a decision by the City Council.”Embed from Getty Images
In a brief speech, Prince Charles expressed his gratitude at receiving the honour, saying, “I didn’t realise that people of my age might actually win a gold medal!
“So, I am even more grateful and if I may say so, I am particularly touched that you, as the Mayor, have agreed to sign up to this Terra Carta project which we have established in the last year. The fact that you yourself have made such strides in ensuring that Athens becomes a great example of sustainability because it is of crucial importance, it seems to me, that cities, like Athens, all around the world, are much more involved in the drive towards greater sustainability, decarbonisation of the economy and indeed the regeneration of biodiversity. And so, all these things come together in terms of sustainable urbanism and sustainable urban planning and this is something we spoke about and something which I hope we can together help to make further progress with.
“In the meantime, I shall wear this medal with great pleasure and pride, as you will always remain, as something I shall treasure as a result of this visit to Athens but also of your great kindness and consideration to me after all these years. As I said three years ago when I was here, I know there is quite a bit of Greek blood that’s flowing around me so this will always remind me of my connections to this remarkable country so thank you. Thank you.”Embed from Getty Images
Prince Charles and Camilla visited Greece on behalf of the British government. It is their second overseas visit since the coronavirus pandemic began. The royal couple visited Germany in November to mark the National Day of Mourning.