ATHENS — British author Victoria Hislop was granted honorary Greek citizenship Thursday and met with the prime minister of Greece.
Hislop has used Greece as the setting for several of her historical novels. In her first book, “The Island,” published in 2005, the action takes place near the Greek island of Crete. Her most recent, “Those Who Are Loved,” is set in Athens and other Greek islands.
Honorary Greek citizenship may be granted in recognition of an individual's special contribution to the country. Actor Tom Hanks and his wife, actor and producer Rita Wilson, were given the honor last year for their support in raising money for victims of a deadly Greek wildfire. The couple received Greek passports this year.
Hislop was officially sworn in as a Greek citizen in Athens on Thursday. She said she was honored by the gesture.
“I love Greece with all its problems and difficulties, not just because it’s a beautiful country,” she said at her meeting with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
Hislop said she had already framed a copy of her naturalization certificate that was sent to her home in England.
“That’s already up on my wall,” she said. “But now I have the original.”
The ceremony was attended by the ministry's secretary general for citizenship, Athanasios Balerbas, as Interior Minister Takis Theodorikakos was absent for health reasons.
The author of the best-selling 2005 novel "The Island", which was later made into a hugely successful television series in Greece, Hislop emphasised her abiding love for Greece, including its problems, for many years and thanked the ministry for the great honour, saying that this was a very important day for her.
Afterwards, Hislop was received by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the Maximos Mansion, where he thanked her for her support of Greece through her writing and her statements and by mobilising the people of the arts, sciences and culture to support Greece's rights during a difficult time.
"Above all, for your pure love of Greece, which I think is reflected in everything you do and everything you write," Mitsotakis said.
According to government sources, the author – who was informed that she will be given Greek citizenship by the prime minister on the phone – gave Mitsotakis a copy of her latest book "Those Who Are Loved" and said that she has felt Greek for a long time.