Charles, the Prince of Wales, and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, arrived in Athens on Wednesday, in advance of the spectacular military parade planned for Thursday, March 25, the bicentennial of the Greek War of Independence.
This is only the second foreign trip made by any member of the Royal Family in the past year, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The British royals will be joined by other foreign dignitaries arriving in the country on Wednesday, including Russian, British and French officials.
After a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the foreign leaders will gather at a state dinner hosted by Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, and attend the opening of Greece’s newly-remodeled National Art Gallery.
The many events will lead up to the monumental military parade planned for March 25, a date that marks 200 years since the beginning of the Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1821.
The military parade will take place in front of the Greek Parliament and the Monument to the Unknown Soldier at Syntagma Square on Thursday morning.
Charles expected to stress UK’s strong links to Greece in speech
Charles, who speaks flawless Greek, is expected to stress the “strong and vital” bonds between the UK and Greece, despite his country’s decision to leave the European Union.
In leaked excerpts of his speech, Prince Charles highlighted the historic links between the UK and Greece, saying “Just as our histories are closely bound together, so too are our futures.”
Britain, along with Russia, played a fundamental role in the Greek War of Independence, aiding the Greeks in gaining freedom from the Ottoman Empire.
Recalling this fact, Charles wrote in his speech, which is expected to be given at the state dinner on Wednesday, that “Today, as in 1821, Greece can count on her friends in the United Kingdom.”
Prince Charles’ strong connections to Greece
Prince Charles has a particularly strong connection to Greece, or “the land of his grandfather,” as he noted in 2020.
Both Prince Charles’ father, Prince Philip, and grandfather, Prince Andrew, were born in the Mediterranean country.
In the summer of 2020, Charles expressed his sincere wish to return to Greece after the pandemic, a wish that has come true earlier than expected for the Prince of Wales.
In an opinion piece for Greek Daily Ta Nea, he wrote: “The resilience of Greece and her people has been tested before, and I hope that the country will once again emerge with renewed vigor 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.”