On Wednesday 12 June more than 800 people joined the British Ambassador Mr John Kittmer and his partner Mr David Bates for a reception in honour of the birthday of Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth II.
Despite the rain the British Residence was full of friends of the UK and the British Embassy; addressing them the British Ambassador said:
A birthday should always be celebrated with friends. And it is a great pleasure to have very many dear friends of the United Kingdom and of this Embassy here today. In hosting this event, David and I have wanted not only to celebrate, but also to show: to show to you something of today’s Britain, and to show something of the strong and dynamic links between Britain and Greece.
Our countries have been bound together since the modern age began, and we have had many adventures together. For me at least, this is the first time that I have heard the ‘Hymn to Liberty’ and ‘God Save The Queen’ sung next to each other. In this context, the words penned by Solomos should remind us all that next year we will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the cessation of the Ionian Islands from Britain and their union with Greece.
I don’t have to strain historical memories to testify to the strong and dynamic links between Britain and Greece. Those links are evident every year. In the millions of British people who come to Greece and fall in love – with its people, its beauty and its culture. And the tens of thousands of Greeks who travel in the opposite direction – for education, work and pleasure.
The stars of the event yesterday had all been specially chosen to show the strength of the links between Greece and Britain.
Sophia Kokosalaki, examples of whose fashion designs were on display in the ballroom, was born, brought up and educated in Greece. Αfter graduating from the University of Athens, she went to London and studied at the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. She set up her business in London in 1999. Only a few years later, she was chosen to design the opening and closing ceremonial outfits for the 2004 Summer Olympic Games, held here in Athens.
Her designs show the influence on her work of classical Greece, but they show also the edgy style of modern London. A successful Greek designer and business-woman in London, creating jobs, trade – and adding more than a sparkle of glamour to both countries.
Our musicians tonight also have Greek and British lineage. Philip Modinos, who is English with Greek ancestry, trained in London at the Trinity College of Music; he is active in Greece and the UK, and in concert houses across the globe. Cassandra Dimopoulou was born in Thessaloniki and studied in Greece and Germany; she then won the prestigious Leventis Foundation Scholarship to undertake a Masters at the Royal Academy of Music in London. Philip and Cassandra are young singers with an already enviable international reputation.
The saxophonist and composer, Dimitris Vassilakis, moved to London after taking his first degree in Athens. He studied at the London College of Music and the Royal Academy of Music. He is the Greek representative of the International Association of Schools of Jazz and travels extensively. Another truly international career, with its roots in the UK and Greece.
The food was also a mixture of British and Greek: great British cheeses, a great selection of British beef, thanks to the generosity of EBLEX and typically British fish and chips provided by Greek chefs. Our guests also tasted some wonderful Greek wines, provided by the very special Vriniotis Winery on Evia and Stelios Parliaros created his ‘sweet alchemies’ to the delight of the guests.
Notes to editors
Sponsors: Glaxo Smithkline; Shell & Coral; BP; Coca Cola – 3E Hellenic Bottling Company; Aegean Airlines; and Reedsmith.
Supporters: HSBC; Benaki Museum.
Photos available here