Charles ‘touched’ to win gold medal on last day of visit to Greece

Catherine Wylie, PA, in Athens
·3-min read

The Prince of Wales has been awarded the City of Athens Gold Medal of Honour during an official two-day visit to Greece.

Charles said he was “enormously touched” to have been presented with the accolade also known as the Gold Medal of Valour in the Greek capital, the City’s highest distinction.

The heir to the throne said he was “hugely grateful” and said he would always treasure it.

Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall’s brief visit marked the bicentenary of Greece’s uprising against the Ottoman Empire in 1821.

They joined President Katerina Sakellaropoulou and her partner Pavlos Kotsonis for tea at the presidential mansion in Athens on Thursday morning after watching the Independence Day Military Parade.

Charles told the president that he and his wife were “enormously touched” that they were invited to Athens for the occasion of the bicentenary.

The prince said they were not quite sure if it would be possible to come, adding: “But the great thing is it has been possible.”

Later, Charles was awarded the gold medal by Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis at the City Hall.

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“I didn’t realise, even at my age, I’d actually win a gold medal, so I’m even more grateful,” the prince quipped.

Charles said he was “particularly touched” that Athens wants to enact his ambitious Terra Carta, or Earth Charter, which has parallels with the Magna Carta.

It aims to encourage the private sector to safeguard the planet by adopting sustainability and to invest 10 billion dollars (£7.3 billion) in “natural capital” by 2022.

Charles said the mayor has “made such strides in ensuring that Athens becomes a great example of sustainability”, adding: “Because it is crucially important it seems to me that cities like Athens and all around the world are much more involved in the drive towards greater sustainability, decarbonisation of the economy and indeed a regeneration of biodiversity.”

A signed copy of The Prince of Wales’ Terra Carta in the City Council Chamber at Athens City Hall (Chris Jackson/PA)
A signed copy of The Prince of Wales’ Terra Carta in the City Council Chamber at Athens City Hall (Chris Jackson/PA)

The prince added: “In the meantime, I shall wear this medal with great pleasure and pride as it will always remain as something I shall treasure as a result of this visit to Athens but also of your great kindness and consideration to me after all these years.”

He referred to the “quite a bit of Greek blood that’s flowing round me” adding that the medal will always remind him of his connections to the “remarkable” country.

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

But this year the route was much more muted due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the public encouraged to stay at home and watch the event on television amid a strict lockdown.

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall wave as they board a flight at Athens International Airport, Greece (Victoria Jones/PA)
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall wave as they board a flight at Athens International Airport, Greece (Victoria Jones/PA)

A curfew is in place in Athens from 9pm to 5am on weekdays, while face masks are mandatory in all public places, both indoors and outdoors.

Charles and Camilla’s visit was at the request of the British Government following an invitation from the country’s prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.