Charles and Camilla arrive in Athens on their first international trip this year

Charles and Camilla touched down in Greece today on their first international trip of the year, as Prince Philip recovers from heart surgery at Windsor Castle. 

Prince Charles has described Greece as the ‘land of my grandfather’, in a reference to Philip’s father, Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark. 

The heir to the throne landed at Athens airport with the Duchess of Cornwall at just before 5.30pm local time to be greeted by a guard provided by the Hellenic Armed Forces.

The couple, who were met by a delegation including British ambassador to Greece Kate Smith, are on a two-day visit to attend the Bicentenary Independence Day celebrations. 

Camilla was wearing a blue and white dress by Fiona Clare, a cape by Anna Valentine, and a face mask with Prince of Wales feathers sent to her by a member of the public.

Charles and Camilla landed at Athens International Airport at just before 5.30pm local time. The couple are attending the Bicentenary Independence Day celebrations, following an invitation from Greece’s prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis

After disembarking the plane, Charles and Camilla greeted dignitaries, including Her Majesty's Ambassador to Greece Kate Smith

After disembarking the plane, Charles and Camilla greeted dignitaries, including Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Greece Kate Smith

The couple, who were met by a delegation including British ambassador to Greece Kate Smith, are on a two-day visit to attend the Bicentenary Independence Day celebrations

The couple, who were met by a delegation including British ambassador to Greece Kate Smith, are on a two-day visit to attend the Bicentenary Independence Day celebrations

Camilla debuted a new monochrome face covering today emblazoned with the Prince of Wales' feathers which was given to her by a member of the public

Camilla debuted a new monochrome face covering today emblazoned with the Prince of Wales’ feathers which was given to her by a member of the public 

The couple, who were invited by Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis, will visit the National Gallery and attend an official state dinner at the presidential mansion where Charles will give a speech to mark the 200-year anniversary.

At the official ceremony celebrating the opening of the National Gallery, Charles and Camilla are expected to be greeted by Mr Mitsotakis and his wife Mareva Grabowski-Mitsotaki.

They will be given a tour by the director of the National Gallery, Professor Marina Lambraki-Plaka, in which they will view the paintings of British artists Thomas Gordon and Frank Abney Hastings.

Prince Philip’s Greek ancestry and how he ended up marrying the Queen  

 Prince Philip was born on June 10, 1921, on the kitchen table at his family home Mon Repos on the Greek island of Corfu.

He was the fifth child, and only boy, of parents Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark and Princess Alice of Battenberg.

His ancestry is a mix of Greece, Denmark, Russia and Prussia on his father’s side, and his maternal grandmother, Princess Victoria of Hesse, was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, making him Elizabeth II’s third cousin.   

Philip’s father, a Lieutenant-General in the Greek army, was accused of high treason after allegedly disobeying an order and abandoning his post with his cavalry regiment in the face of attack during the Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922.

The family managed to escape on British naval vessel HMS Calypso, with the newborn prince carried to safety in a cot famously crafted from an unused fruit box.

They were taken to France where they settled in a leafy suburb in Paris in a house loaned to them by his wealthy aunt, Princess George of Greece and Denmark. 

From then on, the Duke’s childhood was incredibly unsettled as he was without a permanent home.

At the age of eight, Philip was sent to Cheam school in Surrey for three years – but moved to Germany where all four of his sisters had married.

His stint in Germany proved brief when he moved back to Britain and was sent to Gordonstoun, a boarding school in Scotland. 

After leaving school, Philip joined the Royal Navy, beginning at the Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, in May 1939, and was singled out as best cadet.

He stayed in the Royal Navy and served on several ships – firstly on HMS Ramillies – and saw active service against German, Italian and Japanese forces. The next year he became a midshipman. 

At Christmas 1943, with ‘nowhere particular to go’, as he nonchalantly put it, Philip went with his cousin, David Milford Haven, to stay at Windsor Castle. 

Princess Elizabeth, then 17, was animated in a way ‘none of us had ever seen before’, wrote her governess, Marion Crawford. 

That weekend of dinner parties, charades, films and dancing to the gramophone proved to be a turning point.

After a subsequent visit to Windsor in July, Philip wrote to the Queen of ‘the simple enjoyment of family pleasures and amusements and the feeling that I am welcome to share them. I am afraid I am not capable of putting all this into the right words and I am certainly incapable of showing you the gratitude that I feel.’ 

Late that summer, the Queen asked him to Balmoral for three weeks to shoot grouse and stalk. It was probably during this holiday that he proposed.  

 

At the dinner, Charles is expected to say: ‘Your Excellency – today, as in 1821, Greece can count on her friends in the United Kingdom.

‘The ties between us are strong and vital, and make a profound difference to our shared prosperity and security. Just as our histories are closely bound together, so too are our futures.’

Charles and Camilla are expected to be seated at the high table for the official state dinner, hosted by the President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou.

On Thursday, the couple will attend a wreath laying at the Memorial of the Unknown Soldier and watch the Independence Day Military Parade which marks Greece’s uprising against the Ottoman Empire in 1821.

In previous years, thousands of people waving Greek flags have lined the main streets of central Athens to watch the March 25 parade.

The brief tour will be Charles’ third official visit to Greece following his first in 1998 and a further trip in 2018 with Camilla, her first official visit to the country.

The couple have already travelled overseas during the Covid-19 pandemic, visiting Germany in November for a brief two-day trip to attend commemorations marking the country’s National Day of Mourning.

Clarence House announced the visit to Athens last week in a statement which said: ‘At the request of the British Government, Their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall will attend the Bicentenary Independence Day celebrations in Athens from March 24-25.

‘This follows an invitation from the prime minister of Greece, Mr Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

‘The Bicentenary Event’s Independence Day celebrations will take place from the evening of Wednesday March 24 and will conclude on Thursday March 25.’

Last July, Charles said he hoped to visit Greece again after the pandemic. 

In an opinion piece for Ta Nea, a daily newspaper in the country, he sent his ‘heartfelt wishes to the people of Greece at this very difficult time’.

He added: ‘The resilience of Greece and her people has been tested before, and I hope that the country will once again emerge with renewed vigour and optimism.

‘When that moment comes and the world has made its way through this challenging time, my wife and I do so hope to visit Greece and to see you all again.

‘Until we meet again.’

Charles described Greece as ‘the land of my grandfather’ and recalled how his first visit there more than five decades ago had left a ‘vivid impression’ on him.    

Their visit comes amid claims from a royal expert that Prince Charles wanted to release a ‘point by point’ response to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s bombshell claims in their tell-all Oprah interview but decided against it because he didn’t want to give ‘more ammunition’

Katie Nicholl noted that both the Prince of Wales, 72, and Prince William, 38, were ‘keen to correct some’ of the allegations made against The Firm by the Duke, 36, and Duchess of Sussex, 39.

During their interview this month, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle said racism drove them out of Britain and claimed their son Archie was denied the title of prince because he is mixed-race. 

Meghan also claimed that Kate Middleton left her in tears during a row over bridesmaid dresses and Prince Harry accused his father Prince Charles of refusing to take his calls when the pair emigrated to the US last year.

‘My understanding is that Prince Charles did want to issue a more detailed statement [in response] to the Oprah interview and possibly address some of those issues point by point,’ Katie Nicholl said, speaking to ET.

Camilla (seen with Charles disembarking the plane) is wearing a blue and white dress by Fiona Clare, a cape by Anna Valentine, and a face mask with Prince of Wales feathers sent to her by a member of the public

Camilla (seen with Charles disembarking the plane) is wearing a blue and white dress by Fiona Clare, a cape by Anna Valentine, and a face mask with Prince of Wales feathers sent to her by a member of the public

The couple, who were invited by Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis, will visit the National Gallery and attend an official state dinner at the presidential mansion where Charles will give a speech to mark the 200-year anniversary

The couple, who were invited by Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis, will visit the National Gallery and attend an official state dinner at the presidential mansion where Charles will give a speech to mark the 200-year anniversary

The couple, who were invited by Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis, will visit the National Gallery and attend an official state dinner at the presidential mansion where Charles will give a speech to mark the 200-year anniversary

The couple have already travelled overseas during the Covid-19 pandemic, visiting Germany in November for a brief two-day trip to attend commemorations marking the country's National Day of Mourning

The couple have already travelled overseas during the Covid-19 pandemic, visiting Germany in November for a brief two-day trip to attend commemorations marking the country’s National Day of Mourning

‘But there was an evening to think about things and in the end, it was decided that a shorter statement would be better, [and] that going at things point by point could be potentially more damaging and give more ammunition for the row to continue.

‘I think Prince Charles and Prince William were keen to correct some of the things that the couple had said.’

She went on to say that Prince Charles was ‘particularly frustrated’ by the suggestion that he cut the couple off financially.

‘If you speak to sources in Charles’ camp, that wasn’t the case,’ she explained. ‘He did continue funding them for quite some time after they moved first to Canada and then to America.

‘So yes, I think there was at one point the feeling that they did want to address more than just the issue of race.’

It comes after CBS presenter Gayle King said she had spoken to the Sussexes who told her that Harry had talked to the Duke of Cambridge and Prince of Wales after the interview.

But she said the conversations were ‘not productive’ and the Sussexes were keen for the ‘royals to intervene and tell the Press to stop with the unfair, inaccurate, false stories that definitely have a racial slant’.

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Prime Minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Mareva Grabowski-Mitsotakis

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Prime Minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Mareva Grabowski-Mitsotakis

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Prime Minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis during a visit to the National Gallery in Athens

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Prime Minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis during a visit to the National Gallery in Athens

Charles described Greece as 'the land of my grandfather' and recalled how his first visit there more than five decades ago had left a 'vivid impression' on him

Charles described Greece as ‘the land of my grandfather’ and recalled how his first visit there more than five decades ago had left a ‘vivid impression’ on him

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, takes in the paintings at the National Gallery of Greece during a visit to Athens this afternoon

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, takes in the paintings at the National Gallery of Greece during a visit to Athens this afternoon

According to their itinerary, they will be given a tour by the director of the National Gallery, Professor Marina Lambraki-Plaka, in which they will view the paintings of British artists Thomas Gordon and Frank Abney Hastings

According to their itinerary, they will be given a tour by the director of the National Gallery, Professor Marina Lambraki-Plaka, in which they will view the paintings of British artists Thomas Gordon and Frank Abney Hastings

Ms King, 66, who is also close friends with Oprah, failed to give any examples of the stories she was referring to, but added that Meghan had ‘documents to back up everything that she said on Oprah’s interview’.

She told CBS This Morning: ‘Well I’m not trying to break news, but I did actually call them to see how they were feeling, and it’s true, Harry has talked to his brother and he has talked to his father too.

‘The word I was given was that those conversations were not productive. But they are glad that they have at least started a conversation.

‘And I think what is still upsetting to them is the palace keep saying they want to work it out privately, but yet, they believe these false stories are coming out that are very disparaging against Meghan, still.

‘No one in the Royal Family has talked to Meghan yet, at this particular time.

‘And I think it’s frustrating for them to see that it’s a racial conversation about the Royal Family when all they wanted all along was for the royals to intervene and tell the Press to stop with the unfair, inaccurate, false stories that definitely have a racial slant.

‘And until you can acknowledge that, I think it’s going to be hard to move forward. But they both want to move forward with this and they both want healing in this family. At the end of the day, that is Harry’s family.’

The Duke of Cambridge was the first royal to personally respond to the racism allegations days after the interview aired when he spoke about mental health during a visit the School21 in east London.

At the time, he revealed that he had not spoken to his brother since it came out, but added that he ‘will do’. 

Camilla debuts a monochrome face mask emblazoned with the Prince of Wales’ feathers while Charles dons a favourite charity style 

Prince Charles re-wore one of his favourite face masks for the engagement today – a £6.50 teal design crafted by seamstresses from his Turquoise Mountain Textiles programme.

The scheme was set up by The Prince of Wales in 2006 to protect heritage at risk and to provide training and jobs around the world.

The masks are crafted by artisans in Myanmar using handwoven heritage textiles to turn leftover stock fabrics into unique and colourful face coverings.

For every mask sold, the organisation is donating one to vulnerable communities in Yangon.

Prince Charles re-wore one of his favourite face masks for the engagement today

Manwhile Camilla debuted a new monochrome face covering today emblazoned with the Prince of Wales' feathers

Prince Charles re-wore one of his favourite face masks for the engagement today, while Camilla debuted a new monochrome face covering today emblazoned with the Prince of Wales’ feathers

Prince Charles first wore one of the masks in September and has since sported them on almost every public engagement.

Manwhile Camilla debuted a new monochrome face covering today emblazoned with the Prince of Wales’ feathers. 

The heraldic badge consists of three white ostrich feathers emerging from a gold coronet, while a ribbon below the coronet bears the motto ‘Ich dien’ – German for ‘I serve’. 

From colours to styles, the Duchess of Cornwall has previously been the most experimental when it comes to her face coverings. 

She has stepped out wearing leopard print, peacock and floral designs over recent months, and drew praise for the vibrant red poppy mask she wore for a Westminster Abbey service to commemorate the centenary of the burial of the Unknown Warrior.

Today’s more formal, patriotic design was a marked shift for the Duchess – perhaps a show of solidarity to the Firm following the explosive claims made by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle about the Royal Family during their interview with Oprah Winfrey, or a choice to reflect the high profile occasion.

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