Mr. President, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
Χαιρόμαστε ιδιαιτέρως πού βρισκόμαστε και πάλι στην Ελλάδα , καθώς καί γιά τό υπέροχο δείπνο πού παραθέτετε πρός τιμήν μας απόψε.
We are especially pleased to be in Greece once again, and to be here, at this splendid dinner which you have hosted (in our honour) this evening.
Σας ευχαριστουμε πολυ για την θερμη υποδοχη και εγκαρδια φιλοζενια σας
We want to thank you for your warm welcome and heartfelt hospitality
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.
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. As the great English Poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley, said: “We are all Greeks. Our laws, our literature, our religion, our arts have their root in Greece.”
For my part, my own connections to Greece have particular meaning – after all, it is the land of my grandfather... From an early age I heard such captivating stories about the beauty of this country and the character of her people – even part of my education was based on ancient Greek, or Platonic, ideals. Since then, I have had the great good fortune to visit some of Greece's most magical places and to see for myself what makes this country so very special. In fact, I first came to Greece fifty-four years ago and I shall never forget the incredibly strong impression it made on me.
In coming to know Greece over the years ever since, I have been struck by just how closely entwined are the histories of our two countries and by how much there is that unites us.
We are both, of course, sea-faring peoples; nations which have long looked beyond our borders for opportunity and discovery. We are both exostrefis [outward-facing] – facing outward, not inward; looking to the world around us not just for strength and prosperity, but to understand our place within it. We share a spirit of openness with which, through history, we have welcomed new ideas and new people.
Time and again the tides of history have brought us together to link arms and stand for the values that we hold dear: freedom, democracy and tolerance.
One particularly compelling illustration of our shared values and exostrefia was seen during the War of Independence when we British played our part in support of your heroic struggle to found the modern Greek State. A certain Captain Hastings, a British naval officer from Leicestershire, was moved to aid the Greeks in their struggle and commissioned from an English shipyard the steam-powered sloop Karteria.
In joining the fleet of the revolutionary Hellenic Navy, the Karteria became the first steam-powered warship ever to see combat. She went on to play a decisive role so that, in the words of that great Philhellene, Lord Byron, “Greece might still be free”.
The word Karteria, as all of you will know far better than me, means Perseverance or Endurance. It was a name that was particularly apt for those times but which, if I may say so, characterized Greece’s extraordinary resolve during her other great struggles.
In the Second World War, Greece bravely endured such terrible suffering and privation, as so many of your own parents and grandparents will have known at first-hand. My own Grandmother, Princess Alice, remained in Athens during those dark years of occupation and did whatever she could to help some of those most in need. This included sheltering a Jewish family, notwithstanding the risks to herself. In recognition of this selfless act, she has the honour of a final resting place in Jerusalem, as "Righteous Among The Nations." When members of my Family asked my grandmother how we would ever be able to visit her tomb, she replied simply – and to our great amusement – "Don’t be so silly – there is a perfectly good bus service from Athens!"
The Greek perseverance of which I have been speaking was conspicuous, too, among the troops who fought alongside the British in the Middle East and North Africa; and among the brave ship's companies of the Hellenic Navy who made such a profound difference to Allied naval operations in the Mediterranean and in support of convoys in the Atlantic.
Much more recently, the Greek people have, I know, borne such tremendous hardship during the years of the economic crisis. In Britain, we understand how high a price you have paid to rebuild your economy. 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.
You have faced these challenges, if I may say so, with remarkable Karteria – that same strength of character with which you have overcome such adversity in the past. The United Kingdom and the British people have been much concerned about what you have been through and we greatly admire your resilience and determination.
For my own part, my Prince’s Trust – which I started over forty-two years ago with my pension from the Royal Navy, and which has since helped nearly 900,000 young people to transform their lives – has now, through Prince’s Trust International, begun to work in Greece. This week I am delighted to share the news that, thanks to the generosity of our supporters, and with funding from my own Prince's Foundation, we will be significantly expanding our programme in Greece over the next three years, enabling us to help tackle some of the youth unemployment issues that are facing your country by assisting many more young people in this country to move into work, education, training or to start their own enterprises. It is my dearest wish that my Trust might make some small difference in empowering more young Greeks to achieve their potential and to contribute to their country’s return to prosperity and strength.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the ties between our two countries run deep, and today are as strong and as vital as they have ever been. Tens of thousands of our citizens live, work and study in each other’s countries, and make such a vital difference to our societies and our economies. An astonishing three million Britons visit Greece each and every year – it is not difficult to see why…
In an uncertain world, these bonds between our countries and our people are of the greatest importance – and will endure, as our relationship evolves in the years ahead.
The Philhellenism of the 18th and 19th centuries – that great love of all things Greek which led the likes of Byron to take up arms and join the revolutionaries in their struggle for Greek Independence – may seem like the intellectual fashion of another age. It strikes me, however, that the idea that there is something essential about Greece – about her history, her culture and her people – that informs and inspires us all, is as relevant and as powerful as it has ever been. For me, there has always been something profound about the observation made by George Seferis who, of course, was not only one of Greece's greatest poets, but was also Greek Ambassador to the United Kingdom in the 1950s and 60s – whose intuition for the unity of our tradition once led him to speak of a "very organic feeling that identifies humaneness with the Greek landscape."
Ladies and Gentlemen, it simply remains for me to say once again, how delighted my wife and I are to be in Greece and to play our part in strengthening this vitally important relationship between our two countries.
Σας ευχαριστώ και πάλι για την θερμη υποδοχή ςτην πάντοτε φιλοζενη 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.
Long live Greece! Long Live the United Kingdom!
Mr. President, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen