Prince George – An uncertain reception?

In December 1898, the European Powers finally decided that Prince George of Greece, the second son of the Greek King, should be imposed on the Cretans as the High Commissioner of the island, the Cretans having been given no say in the matter. *

In spite of George being a Greek Prince, and theoretically therefore expected to be welcomed by the majority of the island’s population, the British at least were taking no chances on the nature of his reception by the Cretan population; a sailor who was part of the European reception party/bodyguard writing at the time:

“[W]e had the pleasure of taking prince George of Greece, to take over the Government of the place, landed him at candia and lined the streets with 40 rounds of Ball cartridges as he did not know how the people would receive him But they received him all right the next day we paraded before him with 40 rounds of Ball cartridge after that we went back to Malta.” **

The arrival of Prince George in Suda Bay

The arrival of Prince George in Suda Bay. German print. Note the British sailors, presumably armed with 40 rounds each.

The entry of prince George into Canea. December 1898. German print.

The entry of Prince George into Canea. December 1898. German print.

*This followed the pattern of European involvement in creating or restoring Greek monarchs. The first modern King of Greece, Otto, was a Bavarian prince chosen by the Concert of Europe; when the Greeks threw him out in 1834, the Concert gave them Prince Christian William Ferdinand Adolphus George of the Danish Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksburg line to reign as George I. As late as 1944, the British Government and army were involved in supporting the eventual reinstatement of King George II who, after enthusiastically supporting the extreme right-wing Metaxis dictatorship prior to the German invasion, had been in exile throughout the war.

** National Maritime Museum JOD 207. Dairy of Thomas Willis A. B.  H.M.S. Dido. Spelling and punctuation as original. Willis appears to have got the landing place incorrect; George landed at Suda Bay, Canea on 21st December 1898; he didn’t go to Candia (Iraklion) until mid-January 1899.

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