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“Greece is part of my identity” is what The Prince of Wales exclusively told Ta Nea, whilst also praising the Greek people for their “resilience… which has been tested many times before” and expressing his certainty that “the country will once again emerge with renewed vigour and determination”.
In his message to Greece and her people, Queen Elizabeth’s eldest son and heir to the British Throne, refers to the effects of the Coronavirus in Greece (he himself tested positive for the virus this March) but also to the financial crisis which engulfed our country over the past few years and lead to, amongst other things, an unprecedented increase in youth unemployment. The Prince of Wales’s charity, The Prince’s Trust International, has been operating in Greece since 2018 and has, since then, helped hundreds of young people gain new skills, find employment or start their own business. The Prince’s aim is to help 4,000 young people in Greece find work by 2023.
“…we had to respond quickly to ensure we can prevent this crisis from defining the prospects of an entire generation.” The Prince declared characteristically, revealing that the charity has already managed to help 83 young people find employment during the recent lockdown period alone. Our country was also the first in the world to run the Explore Enterprise programme outside the UK.
In addition to this, The Prince also announced for the first time the work that the International Network for Traditional Building, Architecture and Urbanism (I.N.T.B.A.U.), which he founded, has been doing in Greece.
The 71-year-old Prince made public for the first time the fact that he is assisting in the reconstruction and the healing of the wounds which resulted from the devastating fires in Attica in 2018. The outcomes of this academic work will be made public in due course. The fires in Mati – which cost 102 people their lives – took place nearly two-and-a-half months after The Prince of Wales visited Greece with his wife, The Duchess of Cornwall, in May 2018.
“It seems only a short time ago that my wife and I were with you; a visit which created many happy memories for us both, and one which we still reminisce about fondly…” The Prince told Ta Nea, whilst remembering in particular his visit to Crete, where he took part in some traditional dancing at a village fete in Arxanes.
“Greece’s famed hospitality was evident to us throughout our visit”
Although this is in reference to The Prince’s official visit, he does like to travel to our country privately almost every year, showing a particular fondness for the Ionian islands, Kerkyra (his father’s birthplace) and Aghios Oros, to which he is said to have a particular spiritual connection.
“My own connections to Greece have a particular resonance for me – after all, it is the land of my grandfather.”, The Prince emphasised, promising to return to Greece once again in the future.
The Prince’s love for Greece is deep, he has many Greek friends and is regularly kept updated on what happens in our country. Since 1994 he has been Patron of The Friends of Mount Athos and has been closely involved in the restoration of Hilandar Monastery, which also suffered fire damage in 2004. The Prince also offered financial support for the restoration of the Vatopedi Monastery.
According to the book Outlandish Knight by Minoo Dinshaw, the largest cell in the Vatopedi Monastery even bears The Prince’s name.
His visits to the spiritual centre have been regular, and the British Guardian newspaper has even speculated that during one of his visits he converted to Orthodoxy, a rumour which – even if true – would never be publicly admitted as The Prince is the future head of the Anglican Church. He does, however, in one corner of his home in Highgrove have a Byzantine icon and his father, Prince Philip, was baptised as Greek Orthodox before becoming an Anglican shortly before his marriage to Queen Elizabeth II. The Prince of Wales’s grandmother, Princess Alice, who was married to Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, lived her final twenty years as an Orthodox nun, even founding her own monastic order in Tinos, and later in Athens.
The Prince is the longest serving heir in the world, having taken the title of King in waiting aged three, when his mother became Queen in 1952. His parents are the 94-year-old Queen Elizabeth II and the 99-year-old Duke of Edinburgh. The Prince has two sons, William and Harry, with his late wife, Princess Diana, who died in Paris in 1997. Since April 2005 he has been married to The Duchess of Cornwall.