Susanna Reid questions timing of Prince Charles’ Greece visit
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Prince Charles, 72, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, 73, completed their two-day royal visit to Greece on Thursday and are now headed back to the UK. The trip to Athens was to mark the bicentenary of Greek Independence and was made at the request of the British Government. While the royals’ visit was not in breach of COVID-19 restrictions it ruffled feathers among republican campaigners.
Prince Charles expressed his relief the important visit could go ahead despite the pandemic, while speaking to Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou and her partner, Pavlos Kotsonis, on Thursday.
Charles feared the trip would be cancelled, and added: “But the great thing is it has been possible.”
Mayor of Athens, Kostas Bakoyannis, echoed Charles’s joy that the trip was able to take place.
He said: “We’re very grateful that he’s here.”
The mayor added: “It’s a great honour for us. It’s a great honour for the city of Athens. It’s a great honour for the Greek nation.”
While Charles and Camilla wore face masks throughout the two-day visit and observed strict social distancing measures at every engagement, the tour attracted criticism from anti-monarchy campaign group Republic.
Chief executive of Republic, Graham Smith, said: “There’s really no difference between Prince Charles and some twenty-something influencer going to some other country in breach of the rules just to say: ‘Look at me, I’m here’.
“These royal trips are entirely unnecessary, they are certainly not essential travel, and there is no justification for them.”
Mr Smith added: “The royals have a desperate need to look useful and they do that with these trips, and given that everyone else has been stuck in the UK for a year at the risk of large fines, I think it’s pretty poor taste.
“It’s going to cause some level of confusion about why there’s apparently no risk of Charles and Camilla catching and spreading coronavirus, but for everyone else, there is.
“The Government needs to explain why they have allowed that to happen and Prince Charles needs to explain why he agreed to go.
“People are quite upset about being told they can’t go overseas when often this is the only break they get in a year.”
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Why were Charles and Camilla allowed to travel abroad in lockdown?
Current COVID-19 restrictions ban Britons from travelling overseas, except in exceptional circumstances.
The current Government guidance for travel abroad states: “You can only travel internationally where you have a legally permitted reason to do so, such as work.
“Some jobs qualify for exemptions for certain travel-related requirements, such as self-isolation and testing. See guidance on which jobs qualify for travel exemptions.”
Charles and Camilla’s Greece trip was able to go ahead as it was classified as work.
A Clarence House statement about the visit read: “This visit is being undertaken at the request of the British Government.”
Charles and Camilla have been travelling to and from London to Gloucestershire for work during lockdown.
While their administrative base is at Clarence House in the capital, they have been living at their country home Highgrove since before Christmas.
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