King’s tie resembles Greek flag after Elgin Marbles row

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After Mr Sunak’s Greek row, eyebrows were raised by the pattern on the King’s tie
By Sean Coughlan & Brian Wheeler
BBC News

King Charles’s choice of neckwear at the COP28 conference has sparked speculation that it was a coded message to Rishi Sunak.

The King’s tie had a pattern based on the Greek flag – after a week-long row between the UK PM and the Greek PM over the Parthenon Sculptures.

The dispute is over whether the sculptures, also known as the Elgin Marbles, should return to Athens.

Buckingham Palace suggested it was just a random choice of ties.

Did the tie look like the Greek flag?

Royal sources noted that the tie, worn on Friday at the COP28 summit in Dubai, had also been worn by the King when he met the South Korean delegation on their state visit last week.

The blue and white-striped tie worn by the King when he met Mr Sunak was said not to have any connection with Greece or the diplomatic row about the sculptures.

Mr Sunak cancelled a meeting with Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the last minute on Monday because Mr Mitsotakis said he wanted to talk about the return of the sculptures – something the UK prime minister is firmly against.

It sparked an angry backlash in Greece and claims by the Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer that Mr Sunak had tried to “humiliate” an important European ally.

Former Chancellor George Osborne, who chairs the British Museum, where the Marbles are currently housed, described Mr Sunak’s actions as a “hissy fit”.

He said the Museum was exploring a deal “whereby they spend part of their time in Athens and part of their time in London”.

King Charles and Rishi Sunak met at the COP summit in Dubai

Mr Sunak has, however, ruled out a loan arrangement, saying: “Our position is very clear – as a matter of law the Marbles can’t be returned and we’ve been unequivocal about that.”

The King has family connections with Greece – his father, the late Prince Philip, was born in Greece and was a member of the Greek royal family.

There were questions about whether the late Queen’s hat had similarities to the EU flag

The King had given the keynote speech to the climate change summit. Although now, as head of state, he has to speak on the advice of ministers and there has been speculation about the King’s private thoughts about delivering a government-approved message.

It’s been said that nothing in the royal world is ever accidental – and with royals unable to speak out directly on political matters, there have been previous debates about hidden messages.

The late Queen was seen as saying it with flowers with blooms in Ukrainian colours

In 2017, with fierce debates running about Brexit, there were claims that the late Queen Elizabeth had opened Parliament wearing a hat that resembled the European Union flag.

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the late Queen was pictured meeting Canadian premier Justin Trudeau, standing in front of a vase full of blue and yellow-coloured flowers, the Ukrainian national colours.

Although saying nothing in public, the flowers were seen as an eloquent if unspoken message.

But in the case of the blue and white motif worn by the King in Dubai, sources were adamant that there were no political ties.

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