King Charles wears tie 'with Greek flags' in pattern as he meets Sunak after row over Elgin Marbles

1 December 2023, 17:32 | Updated: 1 December 2023, 18:31

Charles's tie featured a display very similar to the Greek flag
Charles's tie featured a display very similar to the Greek flag. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

King Charles has caused questions over his choice of tie after Greek flags were spotted in its pattern - days after Rishi Sunak started a row over the Elgin Marbles.

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The Greek blue and white flag looked to repeatedly appear in the tie's design.

The King wore it as he gave a speech at the beginning of he UN climate talks, Cop28, in the UAE, and while meeting with Mr Sunak.

It is unclear if the choice was deliberate, as the King is expected to be politically neutral, or if it was just a coincidence.

Royal reporters have suggested it could even have been a Whitehall ploy to defuse tensions between the UK and Greece.

The King's father, the late Prince Philip, was born in Corfu to Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Alice of Battenberg.

Mr Sunak had cancelled a meeting with Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis after he spoke about the marbles, which are kept in the British Museum.

Read more: Starmer slams Sunak for 'trying to humiliate' Greek PM over Elgin Marbles row as he accuses him of 'small politics'

Charles spoke to Mr Sunak while wearing the tie
Charles spoke to Mr Sunak while wearing the tie. Picture: Alamy

He said keeping some of the artefacts, which come from the Parthenon in Athens, in Greece and others in the UK is like chopping the Mona Lisa in half.

The comments enraged No10, which called off a meeting with him, instead offering deputy PM Oliver Dowden. It was claimed the Greeks had broken a request not to discuss the artefacts, though Athens has insisted it made no such commitment.

Mr Mitsotakis opted to fly home instead.

It comes as the King said the "hope of the world" rests on Cop28.

Addressing the heads of state and climate delegates at Expo City Dubai, he called for "transformational action" to be taken, warning attendees that "the Earth does not belong to us, we belong to the Earth."

He stressed that the world still "remains so dreadfully far off track" in uniting to tackle climate change.

In the rousing speech, in which he reflected on his lifelong commitment to green causes, the King called for the restoration of nature, the need for sustainable agriculture, and the need for cooperation between the public and private sectors.

The King is the only head of state addressing the 167 world leaders at COP28 from the podium - eight years after he first spoke at the landmark COP21 in Paris in 2015.

Charles's tie featured an interesting pattern given the recent diplomatic spat with Greece
Charles's tie featured an interesting pattern given the recent diplomatic spat with Greece. Picture: Alamy

"Eight years ago, I was most touched to be asked to speak at the opening of Cop21 in Paris which, of course, culminated in the Paris Agreement; a landmark moment of hope and optimism, when nations put differences to one side for the common good.

"I pray with all my heart that Cop28 will be another critical turning point towards genuine transformational action at a time when, already, as scientists have been warning for so long, we are seeing alarming tipping points being reached.

Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, Pakistan prime minister and King Charles III attend the 28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, Pakistan prime minister and King Charles III attend the 28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Picture: Alamy
King Charles III walks during the opening ceremony at the COP28 U.N. Climate Summit, Friday, Dec. 1, 2023, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)
King Charles III walks during the opening ceremony at the COP28 U.N. Climate Summit, Friday, Dec. 1, 2023, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool). Picture: Alamy

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He told the conference that "the hope of the world rests on the decisions you must take" before asking them to consider a set of practical questions over the next two weeks after opening yesterday.

The monarch also warned the Dubai conference that the dangers of climate change were "no longer distant risks" as he noted there were communities across the Commonwealth that are now "unable to withstand repeated shocks".

"Records are now being broken so often that we are perhaps becoming immune to what they are really telling us," the King said.

King Charles III makes his opening address at the World Climate Action Summit at Cop28 in Dubai, calling on world leaders and climate delegates for 'transformational action' to combat climate change. Picture date: Friday December 1, 2023.
King Charles III makes his opening address at the World Climate Action Summit at Cop28 in Dubai, calling on world leaders and climate delegates for 'transformational action' to combat climate change. Picture date: Friday December 1, 2023. Picture: Alamy

It comes as Mr Sunak said the UK can "stand tall" at Cop28 as it remains a "leader" on tackling climate change despite his rollback of ambitions at home.

He also heaped praise on the King for his involvement in the annual UN climate talks in Dubai, saying Charles' role attested to Britain's authority on green issues.

Sunak will announce £1.6 billion for international climate finance, including to support projects to halt deforestation and accelerate the transition to renewable energy.

But his attendance at Cop28 comes after he scaled back a host of pledges designed to help the UK reach net zero by 2050 and vowed to "max out" the UK's oil and gas reserves by granting new North Sea drilling licences.

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