“Greece is very much part of my identity,” Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales exclaimed in an opinion piece published on Greek daily newspaper Ta Nea.
He praised the resilience of the Greek people during the Covid-19 pandemic and expressed his confidence about the country’s future.
The heir apparent also recalled the first time he visited Greece more than five decades ago, which left a “vivid impression” on him.
The Prince of Wales also sent his “heartfelt wishes to the people of Greece.”
Prince Charles’ piece in Ta Nea in full:
Amidst this deeply worrying global public health crisis, I wanted to send my heartfelt wishes to the people of Greece at this very difficult time. It seems only a short time ago that my wife and I were with you; a visit which created many happy memories for us both, and one which we still reminisce about fondly. Greece’s famed hospitality was evident to us throughout our visit, whether walking through the streets of Athens or trying to do some Greek dancing in Arxanes, in Crete…!
My own connections to Greece have a particular resonance for me – after all, it is the land of my grandfather. I recall clearly the first time I visited the country just over five decades ago and the vivid impression it made on me. For myself, this, and all the subsequent visits I have been fortunate enough to make since then, brought to life the captivating stories I had heard while growing up about the beauty of the country and the character of her people.
As Greece is very much part of my identity, it gave me special pleasure to launch my International Trust in Athens during our visit in 2018. I started the Prince’s Trust forty-four years ago in the U.K. with the help of my pension from the Royal Navy when I left the Service. Since then, it has helped over 950,000 young people in the U.K. to transform their lives and 10,000, so far, overseas.
Since Prince’s Trust International (P.T.I.) began operating in Greece, the staff have worked closely with national and local government, N.G.O.’s, youth groups, strategic partners, employers and young people in order better to understand the barriers to employment facing Greek youth.
So far, P.T.I. has helped several hundred young people in Athens and Crete into employment or to start their own businesses through the very successful “Get Into” and “Enterprise” programmes. By 2023 my International Trust aims to help 4,000 young people in Greece to get into employment, develop their own businesses or improve their opportunities in order to reach their full potential.
As the world joined together to survive the immediate impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, my International Trust worked with our partners to accelerate our digital plans. Young people are more vulnerable to the immediate and the long-lasting impacts of this crisis, and we had to respond quickly to ensure we can prevent this crisis from defining the prospects of an entire generation.
We are most fortunate to be working with partners in Greece who already have significant online presence and capability. Each partner has responded quickly and innovatively to the current crisis and taken steps to change the way they work to continue to support the young people of Greece.
Our Enterprise Programme Partners in Athens, Corallia, ran our business start-up course online. Many young people completed the course, including from the rural areas. P.T.I. was delighted to support the launch of the initial seven businesses earlier this year, helping young entrepreneurs to take the first steps from job-seekers to job-creators. This is a significant milestone as these are the first businesses to be launched through the Explore Enterprise programme outside of the U.K.
P.T.I. even managed to help young people acquire jobs in Greece during the lockdown. Our charity delivery partner, Knowl, worked with a major supermarket to identify and train suitable candidates to work in stores through PTI’s ‘Ready2Work’ programme. As a result, they employed eighty-three of them.
I am, of course, acutely aware of the fact that the COVID-19 crisis is not the only difficulty Greece has faced in recent years. Indeed, my wife and I were both deeply saddened when we heard the news of the devastating fires which raged in Attica shortly after our visit in 2018. The tragic loss of life and distressing aftermath caused by these fires compelled me to offer some assistance, however small, to help the region take its first steps towards rebuilding.
To this end, my Charitable Fund helped to provide the necessary financial assistance for a group of universities and practitioners to help in the creation of an aspirational masterplan for Mati which they hope to share with the local community later this year.
This is, in essence, a collection of plans and drawings which shows how rebuilding, now and into the future, could create a place that is resilient and that demonstrates some of the many wonderful qualities of traditional Greek architecture and urbanism. Their conceptual masterplan for Mati focuses in particular on fire resistance, the coastline, public and green spaces, and rainfall capture through a sustainable urban drainage system.
Leading on this work was a team from the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture under the supervision of the School’s Dean, Michael Lykoudis, in collaboration with partners including the National Technical University of Athens, the University of Patras and, crucially, the local community.
The International Network for Traditional Building, Architecture and Urbanism (I.N.T.B.A.U.), my charity which serves as a global network dedicated to creating better places to live, hopes to continue to be able to help by establishing a chapter in Greece. This chapter would bring together architects, craftspeople, planners and all those with an interest in the traditional urbanism and architecture that maintain a balance with Nature.
Greece, after all, has given the world some of the foundations of classical architecture and is famed for its distinct local vernacular, from the stone homes of Epirus through to the white-washed Cycladic buildings known the world over. This is, of course, not to mention the word ‘Architecture’, which we use in English to this day!
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!