On this day in 1826, the Greek frigate Hellas arrived in Nafplio to become the first flagship of the Revolutionary Hellenic Navy. In 1825, during the latter part of the Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire, representatives of the Greek government in London negotiated with an American shipyard in New York City for the construction of two frigates to be named Hope (later renamed Hellas) and Liberator. Ultimately, the Greek government defaulted on their payments and one of the ships – the Liberator – was sold and the proceeds were used to pay for the other ship to be delivered to Greece. The ship was ultimately burned 5 years later by the Greek Admiral Andreas Miaoulis when the government of Ioannis Capodistrias ordered her to be turned over to the Russian Navy. Capodistrias was assassinated a few months later.
On this day in 2012, the Eurozone announced that it would make loans of 43.7 billion euros to Greece. After 13 hours of talks in Brussels, Eurozone and IMF lenders agreed to unfreeze more than 43 billion euros in funds for Greece and acknowledged that a significant portion of the country’s debt would need to be written off.
On this day in 1934, Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark married Prince George, Duke of Kent. Princess Marina was the last foreign princess who married into the British royal family. Many have described her as an ‘exceptional figure – the epitome of royal style and beauty.’ Born in Athens, Princess Marina was educated by an English governess in a simple, down-to-earth manner, that emphasized duty over all other things. She was fluent in Greek, Russian, English, French, and German, and remained a devout Orthodox Christian for the entirety of her life. She met her future husband, Prince George, Duke of Kent, in 1932 while visiting London following her family’s exile from Greece in 1917. Prince George’s reputation was a questionable one (with persistent rumors about his homosexuality as well as his carefree lifestyle). It might have been a marriage of convenience, but the couple emerged as one of the favorite royal couples in the public’s eyes. The couple married in 1934 and had three children. Sadly, just six weeks after the birth of their youngest child, Prince George was killed when his military plane crashed in Scotland in 1942. His death was surrounded by much mystery but this never deterred Marina, who continued to be one of the most hard-working members of the Royal family. During World War II, Marina trained as a nurse for three months under the pseudonym ‘Sister Kay’, rendering service as a civil nurse reserve. In 1968 it was discovered that the Princess was suffering from an inoperable brain tumor and one month later, she died in her home at Kensington Palace surrounded by her children and sister. Her funeral took place on August 30, 1968 with her coffin carried into St. George’s Chapel in Windsor covered in a Greek flag.
On this day in 1913, the flag of Greece was officially raised at the Firka Fortress in Chania, Crete symbolizing the union of Crete with the rest of Greece. Constructed in 1629 to protect the Venetian harbor entrance from raiders, the Firka Fortress has a panoramic view of the Chania harbor. Because of its historical significance and also partly as a result of its unique location, the Union of Crete with Greece was celebrated at the fortress by hauling down the Turkish flag for the last time and raising the blue-and-white flag of Greece in its place – where it has waved proudly ever since.