As part of President Anastasiades’ ‘Guest of the UK Government’ visit, HRH the Prince of Wales hosted a reception at Buckingham Palace in celebration of the UK Cypriot community and the close ties between the UK and Cyprus. The reception, titled ‘Celebrating Cyprus’, took place on the evening of Monday 4 March in the presence of the HRH the Prince of Wales and H.E. the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades.
150 high profile and successful UK Cypriots were in attendance including: scientists, academics, artists, philanthropists, politicians, businesspeople, professionals, medics, journalists, community leaders and many other members of the UK Cypriot diaspora that have excelled in their area. The event brought Cypriots from all the communities of Cyprus to share and celebrate their achievements as a community.
In his speech, President Anastasiades thanked the Prince of Wales for hosting the special event, which marked the first time the Cypriot diaspora and the bilateral ties were celebrated at Buckingham Palace in such a way.
“Tonight’s event offers us the opportunity to celebrate the long-lasting friendship and enduring bonds between our two countries and peoples,” said President Anastasiades.
He reminded the audience that these bonds were also celebrated last year to mark 100 years since the end of the First World War, during which 16,000 Cypriots fought alongside the British. The President added that, during the Second World War more than 60,000 Cypriots joined the struggle against fascism, notably his “mentor” and former President of Cyprus, Glafcos Clerides.
President Anastasiades highlighted the UK and Cyprus’ membership of the Commonwealth and praised Her Majesty the Queen’s leadership of the organisation and stressed that he has no doubt that Prince Charles will be “equally successful” as the next Head of the Commonwealth.
He said that, “Cyprus has been an active member of the Commonwealth since 1960 and I wish to assure of Cyprus’ determination to continue playing a dynamic role in implementing our joint agenda, particularly in increasingly important global challenges such as climate change, sustainable development, research and innovation, protection of cultural heritage and of the environment,” said President Anastasiades.
The President then stressed the important and dynamic relations between the Cypriot and British people, and said that these relations were demonstrated by the over 300,000 strong UK Cypriot community and the fact that over 1 million Brits visit Cyprus on holiday every year.
Three exhibitions were on display at the reception, one featuring antiquities from Engomi hosted both at the British Museum and the Cyprus Museum in Nicosia; another with authentic maps of late 19th century Cyprus by Lord Kitchener; and the third a reference to a joint academic project by the University of Cyprus and Imperial College. The President referenced these as he spoke of the “undeniable proof of the historic depth and of the dynamic contemporary relationship between our two countries”. Furthermore, he expressed his hope that the Cypriot cultural treasures preserved in the UK would one day be exhibited reunified Cyprus.
HRH The Prince of Wales began his speech by praising the “indispensable contribution” of UK Cypriots to the UK and the Commonwealth and he noted that the island of Cyprus has been capturing the imagination of Brits for decades as they visit the island and enjoy its cuisine, particularly halloumi. The Prince described Cyprus as a crossroad of civilisations and that its influence over the years has been felt far and wide.
He also highlighted the joint efforts of the two peoples during the two World Wars and he then briefly referred to the evolution of the UK Cypriot community – first settling in north London and then establishing itself in many other areas of the UK. He said, “wherever they settled, these communities thrived and over the years they have made the most tremendous difference to our society, to our economy and to our culture,” said the Prince.
The Prince then commented, jokingly, that when shortages of halloumi cheese were reported in the UK last summer the situation resembled “nothing short of a national crisis.”
In his concluding remarks, he praised the leadership that Cyprus and President Anastasiades have been showing as representatives of small island countries and on a series of issues relating to the environment, such as the blue economy, agriculture and the Commonwealth’s Blue Charter.
Both HRH the Prince of Wales and the President of the Republic of Cyprus paid warm tributes to the contribution of the High Commissioner for Cyprus to the UK, H.E. Euripides Evriviades, towards strengthening bilateral relations between the UK and Cyprus and for his championing of the Commonwealth.