As Rishi Sunak denied throwing a “hissy fit” over the Elgin Marbles, a new row was emerging on Friday after King Charles was pictured wearing a tie, that appeared to resemble a Greek flag.
Both the Prime Minister and monarch are in the United Arab Emirates for the COP28 conference, but Sunak has had a rough week as a new diplomatic row was breaking out at home.
Eagle-eyed reporters were, however, also concerned by the attire of King Charles, well known for being an ardent conservationist — and son of Prince Philip, who was Greek.
The Guardian’s Pippa Crerar said on X, formerly Twitter, in on (half Greek) King Charles’ tie on the day that Rishi Sunak denied having a “hissy fit” over the marbles. Meanwhile, Laura Kuenssberg of the BBC said the incident, called ‘tie-gate’ by some on X, had “after days of a simmering diplomatic row btw UK and Greek PM”.
The prime minister was accused of having a “hissy fit” by scrapping a planned meeting with his Greek counterpart this week.
He cancelled the meeting after accusing him of grandstanding about the return of the Parthenon Sculptures to Athens, also known as the Elgin Marbles.
The Prime Minister sparked the row by controversially snubbing Kyriakos Mitsotakis after the Greek leader compared the artefacts’ removal to cutting the Mona Lisa in half.
George Osborne, the former chancellor-turned-British Museum chairman, said Sunak may have been indulging in a “hissy fit” as he insisted the feud would not stop long-running talks on an exchange deal to allow the Elgin Marbles to be displayed in Greece.
Asked whether the former senior Tory was right, Sunak told journalists, including City A.M.‘s Jessica Frank-Keyes, travelling with him to Dubai for the Cop28 climate talks: “No, no. I think I’ve said everything I’ve got to say on this in Parliament the other day and now I’m focused on delivering for people on the things they care about.”
The Prime Minister also hinted that a loan arrangement could be impossible due to Greece’s stance.
“Our position is very clear — as a matter of law the marbles can’t be returned and we’ve been unequivocal about that,” he said.
Sunak continued: “And I think the British Museum’s website itself says that in order for the loans to happen the recipient needs to acknowledge the lawful ownership of the country that’s lending the things and I think the Greeks have not suggested that they are in any way shape or form willing to do that.
“Our view and our position on that is crystal clear: the marbles were acquired legally at the time.”
Press Association — Sophie Wingate