Greek-British relations are foreign relations between Greece and the United Kingdom. The two countries have been allies during the First World War and the Second World War, but also Greece received military and financial assistance from the United Kingdom during the Greek War of Independence. Both countries currently maintain relations via the British Embassy in Athens and a consulate general in Thessaloniki and the Greek Embassy in London and honorary Greek consulates in Belfast, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds and Gibraltar.
Greece and the United Kingdom maintain excellent and cordial bilateral relations with the (then) British Prime Minister, David Cameron, paying an official visit to Athens in 2011. Greece and the United Kingdom share a membership of the European Union, United Nations, NATO and the Council of Europe, however this may change following the United Kingdom's future departure from the European Union.
When the Greek King Otto was deposed by the Greeks in 1862, Queen Victoria's son Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was chosen to succeed him by the Greek people with a referendum. However, the British government would not allow this. The current British monarch Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom's husband Prince Philip is the grandson of Otto's eventual successor George I of Greece.
The United Kingdom wrested control of the Ionian Islands from Napoleonic France in 1815. As the "United States of the Ionian Islands", they remained under British control, even after Greek Independence (partly because Greece's first king being German caused concern in London). However, in 1864, the United Kingdom responded to calls for enosis by transferring the islands to Greece as a present for the enthronement of George I of Greece.
In 2000, Stephen Saunders, the British military attaché in Athens, was murdered by motorcycle gunmen who were members of Revolutionary Organization 17 November. The investigation that followed led to an unprecedented level of co-operation between Greek and UK Police services, who achieved, following a lengthy investigation the arrest of members of 17N who were then brought to trial.
The Conference of Hydra took place in the island of Hydra in March 2000 in order to boost further the friendship between Great Britain and Greece. Discussions during the conference emphasised the economic aspect of this relations and the ways to soar trade between Great Britain and Greece.
Greece has an embassy in London and Honorary Consulates in Belfast, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Gibraltar, Glasgow and Leeds. The United Kingdom has an embassy in Athens and a Honorary Vice Consulate in Patras and Thessaloniki. The United Kingdom also has Honorary Consulates in Crete, Corfu, Rhodes, Thessaloniki and Zakynthos.
There are between 40-45 thousand Greeks residing permanently in the UK, and the Greek Orthodox Church has a strong presence in the Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain. The British cultural presence in Greece is promoted mainly through the British Council. There is a significant Greek presence of Greek students in tertiary education in the UK. A large Cypriot community - numbering 250-300 thousand - rallies round the National Federation of Cypriots in Great Britain and the Association of Greek Orthodox Communities of Great Britain. There are some 20 Greek cultural, philanthropic and professional organizations. There are seven chairs of Greek and Byzantine studies at the universities of Cambridge, Oxford, East Anglia, Royal Holloway, Birmingham, King's College and the London School of Economics, and two Greek Studies Centres, at the universities of Bristol and Reading.
A source of tension between the UK and the Greece is the dispute over the ownership of the Elgin Marbles, a collection of Classical Greek marble sculptures, inscriptions and architectural pieces that originally were part of the temple of Parthenon and other buildings on the Acropolis of Athens.Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin was given written permission by the then government of Greece to remove the Marbles between 1801 and 1812 and transported them by sea to Great Britain. In Britain, the acquisition of the collection was supported by many, while others likened Elgin's actions to vandalism.
The Marbles are currently held in the collection of the British Museum. After gaining its independence from the Ottoman Empire, Greece began major projects for the restoration of the country's monuments, and has expressed its disapproval of Elgin's actions to remove the Marbles from the Acropolis and the Parthenon, which is regarded as one of the world's greatest cultural monuments, disputes the subsequent purchase of the Marbles by the British Government and urges the return of the marbles to Greece. The dispute is ongoing and in 2014 UNESCO agreed to mediate between Greece and the United Kingdom in resolving the dispute of the Elgin Marbles.