It didn’t help much that the British royal couple did not visit the Acropolis in order to avoid moments of embarrassment with regards to the Parthenon Marbles, stolen by Lord Elgin in 1816 and exhibited at the British Museum in London. It was the President of the Hellenic Republic, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, who brought up the issue during the official dinner to honor the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.
“We hope that the return of the Parthenon Marbles will, finally, be possible,” Pavlopoulos said in his official address.
Citing Britain’s long tradition in classical studies, as well as the bilateral cooperation between the two countries in this area, Pavlopoulos noted that this and the ties of friendship between Greece and Britain created hope that the sculptures will eventually return and that the unity of the Parthenon will be restored.
Greece considers the United Kingdom a valuable partner within the European Union, Pavlopoulos said, expressing hope that the final decisions taken in Britain will have its European orientation in mind.
“Regardless of this, however, and under any circumstances, our two countries’ harmonious course, side by side, will continue undisturbed,” the President added.
Prince Charles was apparently not prepared to respond to the issue of Parthenon Marbles, and at the very end what could he say? It is certainly not up to him to decide.
The Prince of Wales started his speech saying “We are all Greeks. Our laws, our literature, everything has its roots in Greece. On my part, ties with Greece have a particular meaning. Greece is the home country of my grandfather [Prince Andreas], after all.”
The Prince of Wales referred to the sacrifices of the Greek people during the economic crisis, the courage with which the dealt with the unexpected migrants flows in East Mediterranean and Refugee Crisis and the common historical and cultural ties between Greece and the United Kingdom.
It is worth noting that Prince Charles spoke in Greek in the beginning and the end of his speech. He concluded his speech saying:
Σας ευχαριστώ και πάλι για την θερμη υποδοχής στην πάντοτε φιλόξενη χώρα σας. Υψώνω το ποτήρι μου στην υγεία όλων σας και στην ευημερία και φιλία των δύο λαών μας. Ζήτω η Ελλάδα! Ζήτω το Ηνωμένο Βασιλείο!”
“I thank you once again for your heartfelt and warm reception to your country, which is always so hospitable. I raise my glass to everyone's health, and to the welfare and friendship of our two peoples.”#RoyalVisitGreece pic.twitter.com/kxQW7rt1tB
— Clarence House (@ClarenceHouse) May 9, 2018
The royal couple and the presidential couple
surrounded by Greek ladies dressed in traditional costumes before the official dinner.