LONDON – The United Kingdom’s new King Charles III, whose father Prince Philip was born on Corfu in Greece and was Prince of Greece and Denmark, has had a long affinity for Greece, visited often and has said it’s one of his favorite places.
His mother, the late Queen Elizabeth II made only one trip to Greece – while still a Princess – but her son, and now King, said Greece had a special place for him as the country of some of his ancestors and he recently was on Corfu.
It’s an island he has spent time on before for many years but not the only place in the country to which he goes, having been on Crete in 2018 and his wife Camilla, where they joined in Cretan dancing in traditional dress.
They also visited the Knossos Archaeological site – site of the Greek legend of King Minos – and then went to see stalls showing off Cretan products, displaying a genuine interest more than a royal duty.
In March 2021, to mark the 200th anniversary of the Greek War of Independence and freedom from Turkish rule, they came to Athens and speaking at the Presidential Mansion in Athens he remarked as well on his love for Greece.
He said 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.”
At the dinner at the Presidential Palace he exclaimed: “Hail, oh, joy, freedom! Long live Greece!”
“It is a special joy for my wife and me that we are returning to Greece, which has a special place in my heart. After all, Greece is my grandfather’s homeland and my father’s birthplace, almost a hundred years ago, on the centenary of the Greek Revolution. Later, in Athens, my dear grandmother, Princess Alice, during the dark years of the Nazi occupation, saved a Jewish family – an act for which she was awarded the title of ‘Righteousness of the Nations’ by Israel,” said Charles
It reminded of his visit three years earlier when, echoing a famed quote by 19th-Century English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, he acknowledged the debt Western Civilization owed Greece, remarking that, “We are all Greeks. Our laws, our literature, our religion, our arts have their roots in Greece.”
He met the leader of the Greek Orthodox Church and noted that he had also visited Mt. Athos and its monasteries several times, not just once as most visitors do to the far-flung area.
“And having done this, I have gained a special appreciation for the traditions of the Orthodox Church,” he said. The ties to Greece include the birth of his grandfather at the Tatoi Palace on Mt. Parnitha, 17 miles from Athens and where many members of the Royal Family are buried.
The site in.gr noted that he explained his fascination with Greece during his visit in 2018, saying: “I distinctly remember my first visit to Greece about 50 years ago … for me this first visit as well as all the subsequent ones I was lucky enough to make brought to life the fascinating stories about the beauty of the country and the character of the Greeks that I had heard growing up.”
He began his visits in 1964, noted the site Fourals, the first official trip on Nov. 22, 1998, just 14 months after the death of his first wife, Princess Diana, in an automobile accident while the car she was in was being chased by paparazzi in Paris, smashing in a tunnel.
When he came to Athens as part of the Britain and Greece Festival, he remarked again at the glory he saw and why it had touched him so.
“This is the first opportunity I have been given in many years to see Athens, both ancient and modern. I really appreciate this opportunity, for example, to see the Acropolis and the neoclassical heritage of Athens, as well as what you are doing to help the modern city develop in harmony with the old one.”