King Charles III’s choice of a tie with Greek flags at the COP28 climate conference in Dubai has sparked speculation. The British media say that it was an encrypted message to British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. This concerns the recently high-profile conflict between Sunak and the Greek head of government, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, regarding the sculptures from the Parthenon, which are in the British Museum and to which the Greeks claim the rights.
According to the head of the Greek government, keeping some of the sculptures in London and the rest in Athens is like “cutting the Mona Lisa in half.” “We believe that the sculptures belong to Greece and that they have essentially been stolen,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who was scheduled to meet Rishi Sunak, said in an interview with the BBC on Sunday.
However, on Monday evening, Mitsotakis was informed by the British side that his meeting with Sunak, which was to take place on Tuesday, had been canceled.
A tie with a hidden message?
Friday’s speech King Charles III at the Dubai climate summit only added fuel to the fire and inflamed the English media. Charles III appeared wearing a tie with Greek flags. Buckingham Palace suggested it was simply accidental choice.
The BBC website writes that royal sources said the tie was also worn by the king during his meeting last week with the South Korean delegation. Charles III has family ties to Greece. His father, now deceased Prince Philipwas born in Greece and was a member of the Greek royal family.
Dispute over the sculptures from the Parthenon
The Elgin Marbles are part of the frieze of the Parthenon in Athens, removed by the British ambassador with the consent of bribed Turkish governors shortly before the Greeks liberated themselves from Ottoman rule. Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin, was forced to sell the frieze taken to England to cover his debts. Most of the marbles were bought by the British Museum, and some went to Paris and Copenhagen.
The issue of returning the sculptures from the Parthenon is the subject of a broader discussion. In December 2022 Pope Francis decided to give Greece three fragments from the Parthenon previously kept in the Vatican. Earlier, Sicily also decided to give a piece of the Parthenon frieze to the Greeks.
Last week, the National Museum of Denmark announced that it would keep three pieces from the Parthenon in its permanent collection in Copenhagen. These fragments are “of great importance for Danish cultural history and understanding our interaction with the world around us at a time when democracy was taking shape,” said Dr. Christian Sune Pedersen, head of the institution’s research department, quoted by the Kathimerini website.
Main photo source: UN PRESS OFFICE HANDOUT