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King Charles: a Staunch Philhellene on the British Throne

Charles Greece
King Charles speaks of his profound admiration for Greece in Athens in March 2021. Credit: Greek Presidency

Charles, an admirer of Greece, has become the new King on the British throne following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth, on Thursday. He will be known as King Charles III.

King Charles is a staunch Philhellene and has visited Greece several times recently.

His most recent visit was in March 2021 when he attended celebrations for the bicentenary of the Greek War of Independence.

During a speech at the Presidential Mansion in Athens, he paid a touching tribute to the historic ties between the U.K. and Greece.

He said he was “delighted” to be back in Greece, which has long held the most special place in his heart.

Charles: Greece can count on her friends in the UK

He added that “today, as in 1821, Greece can count on her friends in the United Kingdom. The ties between us are strong and vital, and make a profound difference to our shared prosperity and security.

“In feeling a profound connection to Greece—her landscapes, her history and her culture—I am hardly alone: there is something of her essence in us all,” he said. “As the wellspring of Western civilization, Greece’s spirit runs through our societies and our democracies. Without her, our laws, our art, our way of life, would never have flourished as they have.”

King Charles Greece
King Charles and Camilla visited the Knossos archeological site in 2018. Credit: Royal Family

Charles: We are all Greeks

In a previous visit to Greece in 2018, Charles hailed the traditionally close ties between the UK and Greece and highlighted Greece’s role in the world by saying: “We are all Greeks”.

“We are all Greeks. Our laws, our literature, our religion, our arts have their root in Greece,” he said.

Meeting the head of Greece’s Orthodox Church, Archbishop Ieronymos, Charles recalled that he has visited Mount Athos and its monasteries several times. “And having done this, I have gained a special appreciation for the traditions of the Orthodox Church.”

When Prince Charles said that Greece is in his blood upon his first official visit to the country, he was not just speaking metaphorically, as both his father and grandfather were born in Greece.

The grandfather of the Prince of Wales, Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, was born at Tatoi Palace, on the outskirts of Athens in 1882. His father, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, was born on the island of Corfu, at Mon Repos Palace, in 1921.

Charles to be officially proclaimed King

In the first twenty-four hours or so after his mother’s death, Charles will be officially proclaimed King. This happens at St. James’s Palace in London in front of a ceremonial body known as the Accession Council.

This is made up of members of the Privy Council—a group of senior MPs, past and present, and peers—as well as some senior civil servants, Commonwealth high commissioners, and the Lord Mayor of London.

There is no “swearing-in” at the start of a British monarch’s reign in the style of some other heads of state, such as the President of the US. But there is a declaration made by the new King and—in line with a tradition dating from the early 18th century—he will make an oath to preserve the Church of Scotland.

After a fanfare of trumpeters, a public proclamation will be made declaring Charles as the new King. This will be made from a balcony above Friary Court in St. James’s Palace.

An official will call: “God save the King,” and for the first time since 1952, when the national anthem is played, the words will be “God Save the King.”

Gun salutes will be fired in Hyde Park, the Tower of London, and from naval ships, and the proclamation announcing Charles as the King will be read in in Edinburgh, Cardiff, and Belfast.

Related: Prince Charles and his Roots in Greece

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