Flags …yet again

In 1898 the European Powers imposed upon the newly autonomous Cretan State a High Commissioner of the Powers’ own choosing: Prince George of Greece. The Cretan people were not consulted. George’s arrival was delayed by a dispute over the nature of the flag for the new state but he eventually arrived in December 1898.

While the photograph below showing the High Commissioner being escorted through the then capital Canea by an escort from three of the four Powers, is undated, it’s unlikely to be Prince George. In the first place there aren’t that many people around and secondly there are no British troops in sight. It’s more likely to be the High Commissioner who succeeded George in 1906; Alexandros Zaimis, a former, and future, Greek Prime Minister. According to the annotation on the photograph, the escort appears to consist of French gendarmes, Italian Carabinaire, Russian troops and, leading the parade, Cretan gendarmes.

What is of interest also, given the controversy about the Cretan flag, is the presence of two Greek flags in the bottom right hand corner of the picture. This is highly unusual since the Powers would eventually take extreme exception to the flying of the Greek flag; as would the Ottoman Government. Indeed, such was the objection to the official flying of the Greek flag during the period of the Cretan State, that on one occasion the Powers intervened not only by taking down the offending flag, but also by destroying the flag pole so that it couldn’t be raised again.

Parade through  Canea

Parade through Canea

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