Despina Achladioti known as the Lady of Ro (Κυρά της Ρω) was a passionate Greek woman born on the island of Kastellórizo in 1890. Before the start of World War II, in which her home island was ravaged repeatedly, Achladioti sailed with her husband and mother, who was blind, to the nearby deserted island of Ro, where they lived off of a few goats, chickens, and a vegetable garden.
Her two companions died only years after their arrival, and Achladioti personally rowed her mother’s remains back to Kastellórizo for a burial.
The beautiful Lady of Ro has on many occasions been compared to Joan d’Arc and Bodicea.
Achladioti’s most renowned deed is that every day for 40 years, she would fly a Greek flag over the island even though the island at the time was under Italian occupation and she did not fear anyone. Each day, facing Turkey, which was within easy eyesight, she would raise the Greek flag and pulled it down at sunset, no matter what the weather was like. She did this until her death in 1982, aged 92.
This made her a Greek national hero, especially when Greece nearly went to war with Turkey in the 1970s, because the Greek flag was easily visible from Turkish soil, which is only a footstep away but Kira tis Ro didn’t hesitate, she made sure she stood proud every morning, raising her beloved Greek flag.
Despite not having veteran status, she was buried on the island with full military honours.
A Greek military unit is now based on the island, with the main duty of keeping the tradition of raising the flag.
“I was alone in 1943 in Kastellorizo with my blind mother, when all the inhabitants of the island left for the Middle East and Cyprus. With the Greek flag raised and love for Greece deeply rooted in me, I passed all hardships,” said Kyra tis Ro before she passed away.