Today, The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall carried out the final engagement of their royal tour to France, visiting the Nice Flower Market to meet with members of the public and stallholders.
Among other stalls, Charles and Camilla visited Sophie Budoia’s socca stall; socca is a Nice speciality of a flatbread made out of chickpea flour and served from a large hot stone oven. As always, the royal couple were on-hand to sample some of the goods on offer at the market, including the socca.
The morning was filled with excitement when newlyweds Kath Martin – originally from Glasgow – and Laurent Mayer were leaving their wedding venue and bumped into the royal couple. The bride described coming face to face with The Duchess outside the town hall as a “lovely surprise”. The Prince and The Duchess happily posed for photographs with the newlyweds.
Of course, talk then turned to the big impending wedding next week – Prince Harry’s nuptials to Meghan Markle. Charles told a stallholder he was thought his son’s wedding was “going to be a very special day” and their impending marriage was “absolutely marvellous”. The Prince of Wales also took the opportunity to discuss his future daughter-in-law, saying it has been “very nice” and “exciting” getting to know Meghan. The Duchess of Cornwall told another member of the public that she and her husband “can’t wait” for the big day.
In the early afternoon, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall arrived in Greece, where they will carry out a three-day visit at the request of the British Government. Prince Charles’s paternal relatives were members of the Greek royal family; his great-grandfather was King George I of Greece. The couple were officially welcomed to Greece by Kate Smith, Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Greece, as well as being given a welcome by members of the Greek military.
The couple then visited the Tomb of the Unknown Solider at Syntagma Square, Athens. The memorial is a dedication to Greeks who died fighting for their country; the memorial was completed in 1932 and features classical Greek symbols. The tradition of honouring unknown and missing soldiers can be traced back to the Ancient Greeks. During the Service of Remembrance, The Prince of Wales laid a wreath on the memorial before a minute’s silence and the playing of the Greek and British national anthems. Prince Charles then inspected the Guard of Honour.
After the service, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall met The President of Greece, Mr Prokopios Pavlopoulos, and his wife, Mrs Peltsemi-Pavlopoulous at the Presidential Mansion, which is the official residence of the President of the Hellenic Republic. Their Royal Highnesses signed the official Visitor’s Book in the Byzantine Room before continuing their encounter with a private meeting and exchange of gifts.
Afterwards, The Duchess of Cornwall was escorted to the Benaki Museum of Greek Culture by Ms. Betty Baziana, the partner of the Greek Prime Minister.
The Benaki Museum was converted into a museum in 1930 to house the collections of Antonis Benakis, a Greek art collector from Alexandia. Following its most recent refurbishment (which took place between 1989-2000), the building houses a unique exhibition on Greek culture, with artefacts ranging from prehistoric times to the 20th century.
Meanwhile, Prince Charles met with Mr Alex Tsipras, the Prime Minister of Greece, at the Maximos Mansion. Charles then received Mr Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Leader of the Greek Opposition, in the Drawing Room of the Ambassador’s Residence.
In the evening, The Prince and The Duchess attended an official dinner at the Presidential Mansion. Charles and Camilla were welcomed by women in traditional Greek dress as they arrived, before greeting the President and his wife, Vlassia. The two couples took a private viewing of a selection of paintings by the late Prince Nikolaos.
The Prince of Wales made a speech in which he thanked the Greek people for a wonderful welcome. In Greek, Charles said: “We want to thank you for your warm and heartfelt hospitality.” It is believed Prince Charles has been practising his Greek ahead of the tour.
Prince Charles discussed the impact Ancient Greece had on the Western World, as well as the influence that it still has today, saying: “In Britain, as across the Western World, the profound influence of Greece has, since ancient times, shaped the way we think, the way we build, the way we learn and the way we govern.”
Drawing similarities between Greece and Britain, The Queen’s eldest son continued: “Our countries lie at opposite ends of the continent that we share. Our languages resemble each other only a little; our climates, I need hardly say, even less so! Yet there is, and has long been, an essential bond between us and between our people.”
Discussing some of the conflicts in which Greece has been involved during the past century, Prince Charles mentioned his paternal grandmother: “My own grandmother, Princess Alice, remained in Athens during those dark years and did whatever she could to help some of those most in need.”
Princess Alice was Prince Philip’s mother; born Princess Alice of Battenberg, she then married Prince Andrew of Denmark and Greece. Alice hid Jewish widow Rachel Cohen and her two children from the Gestapo, as she feared they would be deported to the death camps. In 1993, Princess Alice was bestowed the title of ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ for this act.
Speaking of the influx of refugees arriving in Greece fleeing war and deprivation from Syria and Afghanistan, Prince Charles stated: “We know, too, that you have been on the front line of the migration crisis, facing, on behalf of us all, an unprecedented movement of people in the Eastern Mediterranean.”
Concluding his speech, Charles resolved: “The ties between our two countries run deep, and today are as strong and as vital as they have ever been. In an uncertain world, these bonds between our countries and our people are of the greatest importance – and will ensure, as our relationship evolves in the years ahead.”
The royal tour of Greece continues tomorrow; follow The Crown Chronicles for further updates.