Charles & Camilla Visit Athens & Crete

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Well, for those who read to the end of the last post, I obviously was not able to manage getting a historical post up yesterday. I now have it slated for Sunday, so cross your fingers with me(!) In the meantime, let’s catch up on the second leg of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall’s tour of France and Greece.

Wednesday began in Nice and ended in Athens, which, let’s be honest, is kind of the dream. The final engagement in France was a visit to the Nice Flower Market where they met with vendors and visited stalls selling…flowers, obviously, as well as fresh produce and socca, a Nice specialty chickpea flour and olive oil.

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Both were asked about the upcoming wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, with Camilla responding to a question about how it’s been getting to know the bride-to-be with, “It’s very nice. It’s all very exciting. Can’t wait.” Mainly I love that this was meant with all sincerity and yet reads sarcastically in print.

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Then it was off to Greece for a very formal welcome in Athens. They were greeted by British Ambassador Kate Smith, before making their way over to a service of remembrance at the Memorial to the Unknown Soldier in Syntagma Square.

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They then met with President of Greece Prokopios Pavlopoulos and his wife Vlassia Pavlopoulou-Peltsemi at the Presidential Mansion and exchanged gifts privately.

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Next up was a visit to Maximos Mansion where Charles met with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Camilla met separately with Tsipras’s partner [girlfriend], Betty Baziana, who gave her a tour of the Benaki Museum.

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Per the couple’s website:

The Duchess was shown gold jewellery dating back to the First and Second Centuries, two early works by El Greco and a selection of Greek costumes, but told the tour guide: “I wish I had more time.” During the visit, Her Royal Highness joked: “These are great paintings, my husband will be very jealous.”

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The headline event of the day was a formal dinner at the Presidential Mansion at which Camilla looked lovely.

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Thursday brought a visit to the Archbishop’s Palace to meet Archbishop Ieronymos II, the head of the Greek Orthodox Christian Church. When being ushered into a room full of paintings of former archbishops, the Archbishop told Charles, “Welcome to the land of half your ancestors.” From the Archbishop he also received what is being described as an “icon” of the Virgin Mary. More on all of that later on.

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A walk through Kapnikarea brought a visit to the 11th century Church of St Eirini and a stop for Greek coffee at a local cafe.

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Not exactly relaxing though:

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They then walked through an open market and tried traditional Greek fare – I told you they always work in eating, these two!

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Finally, they made a stop at the Commonwealth War Graves where Charles laid a wreath.

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Camilla then made a solo trip to the Kaisariani Monastery where she read to a group of schoolchildren from the first Harry Potter book. The children in turn presented her with a handmade drawing of Hogwarts Express (a train featured in the books for those who haven’t read), while Camilla revealed that when she was young she was partial to Rudyard Kipling.

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Then it was on to a women’s shelter for the Duchess where she continued to highlight the issues of domestic violence and abuse. Camilla’s face was striking as she listened to testimonials.

Charles, meanwhile, visited Piraeus Harbour and went on board HMS ECHO, HMC Valiant and the Hellenic Ship AVEROF.

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The day ended with a reception at The British Ambassador’s residence and frankly I can’t believe we’re only at the end of the second day. They’ve really packed the schedule this trip!

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Anyway, on to the next – this morning the couple started their final slew of engagements in Crete.

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The day began at the Knossos Archaeological Site before they split up for a series of solo engagements celebrating local culture, cooking and business.

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Camilla toured a winery, which I was thrilled about because the only thing I love more than these two in food markets is Camilla with her wine. She’s living her best life right now.

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Charles stopped by Heraklion Development Agency to learn about their support for refugees, and then it was off to the day’s highlight (in my opinion): a Cretan cultural festival held at Church Square in the village of Archanes.

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But let’s also take a moment to note how much Charles appears to be enjoying himself…

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…And Camilla decidedly does not.

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Before we finish up here, let’s chat Greece and the British Royal Family, particularly for those of you who don’t necessarily keep track of the Windsors’ history. Charles is in fact not Greek, though his father, the Duke of Edinburgh, was a prince of Greece before he married the then-Princess Elizabeth. Prince Philip was in fact born in Corfu in 1921, his father being Prince Andrew of Greece, however the Greek Royal Family at the time was in fact German and Danish. As such, Philip and Andrew were actually known as princes of Greece and Denmark. Philip’s mother, meanwhile, was a German great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria via her daughter, Alice.

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Prince Andrew with a young Prince Philip

The BRF has had ties to Greece long before Philip married into it, though. In the 1860s, Alexandra of Denmark’s (then married to the future Edward VII) brother was asked to ascend the Greek throne, and then a generation later one of Queen Victoria’s granddaughters, Sophie of Prussia, became queen. Greece ended its monarchy twice shortly after World War I, which brings us to how it was Philip ended up spending substantial amounts of his childhood in England and Scotland.

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Sophie of Prussia and Prince Constantine of Greece

Charles, who has always had a keen interest in religion, archaeology and history, has long respected the Greek Orthodox faith and is particularly aware of its relationship to the paternal side of his family.

Last but not least, what would one of Charles’s tours be without at least one photo of him in his sunnies? It would be nothing, that’s what, so here you go:

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Anyway, that’s another tour wrapped! I can’t believe it, but next week is the royal wedding – I’m going to capture all the latest news on that front tomorrow, and then fit in a few historical posts Sunday and early next week before we’re in the final stretch of wedding prep. See you then 🙂

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