Tag Archives: Cretan High Commissioner

High Commissioner Zaimis

In September 1906, following the elections which came after the Theriso Revolt, Prince George had had enough of Crete, and Crete had had enough of Prince George. His replacement, who took office shortly after George’s departure from the island on 25th September, arriving there on 30th September 1906, was Alexandros Zaimis; twice previously Prime Minister of Greece and ‘…an experienced politician not noted for superabundant energy (energy was the last thing the Powers wanted in Crete).’[1]

Alexandros Zaimis High Commissioner of Crete.

Alexandros Zaimis High Commissioner of Crete.

Zaimis arrived in Canea and was greeted with an appropriate military guard of honour, the British contingent apparently being provided by the Royal Navy, as shown on the contemporary postcard photograph below.

The arrival of High Commissioner Zaimis. Canea 30 September 1906.

The arrival of High Commissioner Zaimis. Canea 30 September 1906.

Interestingly, an almost identical photograph – note to positions of the rowing boats – was used on another postcard  This time more detail of the event is added; however, the date given is one month out.

High Commissioner Zaimis arriving Canea. Note the incorrect date.

High Commissioner Zaimis arriving Canea. Note the incorrect date.

Zaimis’s career as High Commissioner was relatively brief. Although appointed for a term of office of 3 years, on 12th October 1908 he was in Athens, by coincidence or otherwise, when  the Cretan Administration declared union with Greece. Following this Zaimis, though technically remaining High Commissioner, never returned to the island.

During his stay on Crete, on at least one occasion he made a formal visit to Iraklion. During this visit he reviewed the British troops stationed there. This parade was captured on camera and turned into a series of souvenir postcards

Parade of British Troops in honour of High Commissioner Zaimis.

Parade of British Troops in honour of High Commissioner Zaimis.

Iraklion parade for High Commissioner Zaimis.

Iraklion parade for High Commissioner Zaimis.

High Commissioner Zaimis passing British troops in review.

High Commissioner Zaimis passing British troops in review.

The exact date of the parade is, as yet, undetermined. However, if it was between his arrival in September 1906 and February 1907 it was 2/Royal Sussex, between February 1907 and February 1908, 1/Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, and after then until his departure, 3/King’s Royal Rifle Corps.

A regiment which definitely WAS NOT involved was the unidentified Highland regiment shown in the card below; the last Scottish regiment to serve on Crete, 2/Cameron Highlanders,  left the island  in March 1903.

Souvenir postcard of High Commissioner Zaimis - date unknown.

Souvenir postcard of High Commissioner Zaimis – date unknown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Holland, R. and Markides, D. The British and the Hellenes. Struggles for Mastery in the Eastern Mediterranean 1850 – 1960 (Oxford, 2006). 128.

 

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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.