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Philhellenism Day at the Greek Embassy in the United Kingdom

Philhellenism Day at the Greek Embassy in the United Kingdom

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Monday, April 19, 2021, the Day of Philhellenism and International Solidarity was chosen as a symbolic milestone to award distinguished philhellenes of Great Britain with honorary distinctions of Greek State Orders, by the Greek embassy and on behalf of the President of the Greek Republic, as recognition for their efforts and contributions to strengthen Greek-British relations and for the promotion of Greece in the United Kingdom.

In the context of the anniversary year of 2021, on the three days of April 19-21, the Greek Ambassador in London Mr. Ioannis Raptakis welcomed the honored philhellenes at the embassy, ​​where he awarded the Professor of European Studies Kevin Featherston (Senior Brigadier General), Profesor Paul Cartledge (Brigadier General of the Order of Honor), former UK Ambassador to Greece Dr John Kittmer (Grand Cross of the Order of the Phoenix), historian Robin Lane Fox (Golden Cross of the Order of Honor) and actor, presenter and author Stephen Fry (Brigadier General of the Order of the Phoenix).

After the award ceremony, Mr. Raptakis stated:

«This year, we had the opportunity to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Greek revolution. It is a milestone we chose to strengthen our relationship with the United Kingdom. The visit of Prince Charles to Greece, his reception at the Presidential Palace, his meeting with the Prime Minister, his communication with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, with whom he shares in some way common origins from Corfu, his award by the Mayor of Athens, demonstrates that there is a common desire and suitable ground for upgrading, deepening and expanding our relations.   >>>>>>>>>

An extremely dynamic Greek community exists in the United Kingdom, numbering more than 150,000 people, active in a wide range of sectors, many of which serve in high-ranking positions of responsibility and influence. But also, the English society, is very favorable to our country. I will limit myself to two recent examples. Students of the English School Our Lady of Sion, ten-year-olds, sent me handwritten letters supporting the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece. Twenty five distinguished and renowned people in their respective fields, with global recognition, wrote a letter to the Times newspaper to support the application of International Law in our region. Self-evident, but not unnecessary.

During these three days, we had the opportunity to award really grand personalities, each in his own field, in education, the arts, in cinema, who are distinguished by their love for Greece. “We have to encourage this rich potential in Britain so that our two peoples – who have always been close, we have always been on the same side of history – can continue into the post-Brexit era».

Stephen Fry said in Greek that «this medal means everything to me”, while he argued in favor of the return of the Parthenon Marbles, saying: “If our neighbor’s house catches fire and we take the paintings to keep safe, afterwards we should return them with pleasure and enthusiasm».

Professor Robin Lane Fox, best known for his book “Alexander the Great” on which Oliver Stone’s famous film “Alexander” was based, moved the audience when he spoke in Greek: «I started learning ancient Greek when I was ten years old. I started reading Homer when I was 13 years old. I went to Greece for the first time when I was 16… I continue to respect Homer».

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Former UK Ambassador to Athens Dr. John Kittmer reiterated that he «fell in love with Greece, Greek culture and people» when he visited our country at the age of 16. «I believe that I am the only diplomat who left his career to follow a communist poet», he joked about his doctoral dissertation on Giannis Ritsos.

Professor Paul Cartledge, author and speaker on classical subjects, honorary citizen of Sparta and Vice President of the British Committee for the Return of the Parthenon Marbles (BCRPC) warmly thanked the President of the Hellenic Republic and everyone who contributed in honouring him. Professor Cartledge, along with Professor of European Studies Kevin Featherstone, is one of the few foreigners to carry two medals of the Hellenic Republic.

After receiving his award, Kevin Featherstone said: «You said that I had a contribution to philhellenism, but I feel that I have received from Greece much more than what I have given and today is another example of the generosity of the Greek spirit. I have always been impressed by the size and depth of the Greek contribution to Europe».­

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