Independence Day 2021

25th March 2021 marks the 200th Anniversary of Greek Independence Day.  Each year on 25th March, Greeks and Philhellenes all over the world celebrate Greek Independence Day, a national holiday in Greece.  The day, in fact, marks the official beginning of the Greek War of Independence, not the end.  This is when Greeks remember their long and bitter struggle against the occupying Ottoman Empire, a colossal effort that eventually leads to Greece's Independence.  There were 123 uprisings throughout the duration of Ottoman Turkish rule, however, it wasn't until mid-March 1821 that these rebellions posed any real threat to the Ottoman Empire.  Greeks finally received help from other countries, paticularly the British, French and Russians, helping to establish an Independent Greek State on 30 August 1832.

A unit of the Greek Presidential Guard raised the Hellenic flag on the Acropolis at 08:00 to mark the beginning of celebrations.  The flag raising ceremony was attended by the President of the Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou and Prime Minister Mitsotakis, with the National Anthem sung by internationally renowned soprano Anastasia Zanni.  A Liturgy was held at the Metropolitan Cathedral, followed by a wreath laying ceremony at the Monument of the Unknown Soldier by the President and foreign representitives of the United Kingdom, France, Russia and Cyprus.  Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, represented the United Kingdom. 

The parade began with 1821 revolutionary and historic warriors on horseback, followed with children in regional period costume marching past the various dignitaries in front of the Greek Parliament.  The traditional military parade was led by regional units of revolutionary era warriors, including the Sacred Band battalion founded by Alexander Ypsilantis.  After the period-uniformed soldiers of the two Balkan Wars, First and Second World Wars marched past, modern mechanised military units followed, including heavy tanks.  Fighter jets of the Hellenic Air force flew overhead, joined by formations of American F-16's, French Rafale and British Voyager aircraft, followed by the latest attack helicopters of the Hellenic Air Force. Units of the police, fire department and coastguard also took part in the bicentennial parade.

Due to the pandemic, the 200th anniversary Independence Day parade was only held in Athens - and it was off limits to the public.

Following the bicentennial parade, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, joined President Katerina Sakellaropoulou and her partner Pavlos Kotsonis for tea at the presidential palace.  Later, the Mayor of Athens Kostas Bakoyannis presented Prince Charles with a Gold Medal of Honour for services to the city and to Greece.  HRH said he will treasure the medal and that it "will always remind me of my connections to this remarkable country."  Prince Charles' grandfather, Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, was Greek, and his own father, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was born in Greece almost 100 years ago.

Every major Western leader in the world sent congratulatory greetings to Greece, especially as it being the bicentennial occasion, all apart from two.  No one was expecting any greetings from President Erdogan in Turkey, the leader of his new Ottoman Empire, but blatantly missing was one from Angela Merkel in Germany.  She was probably placing geopolitics ahead of European and Western values by ignoring this momentous occasion, probably in order to avoid offending her new friend . . . the Sultan Erdogan.