Charles compares Southend to Ayia Napa as he celebrates UK-Cyprus relations

The Prince of Wales compared British seaside towns Margate and Southend to party destination Ayia Napa as he celebrated the UK’s ties to Cyprus.

Charles hosted the nation’s president Nicos Anastasiades at Buckingham Palace on Monday evening, along with guests including artist Tracey Emin, who was raised in the Kent seaside resort.

The prince celebrated the waves of migration of Cypriots to Britain and their support of the Army during both world wars.

He added: “I’m told that some early British-Cypriot communities were established in Southend and Margate which – I can only imagine – were the closest thing they could find to Ayia Napa.”

After his remark was met with laughter, he said: “I’m glad you got the joke.”

Charles praised Britons of Cypriot descent including George Michael, Emin and the entrepreneurs Theo Paphitis and Touker Suleyman, who have both featured on Dragons’ Den.

Charles speaks to Theo Paphitis
Charles speaks to Theo Paphitis

Mr Paphitis discussed his nearly 150-year-old firm Robert Dyas with the prince, who replied with a quip.

“I own them – they can’t get rid of me,” Mr Paphitis returned.

Speaking after their conversation, the businessman praised Britain’s ties with Cyprus and predicted they would only get closer following the UK’s departure from the European Union, of which Cyprus is a member.

“I think with everything that’s going on around the world at the moment, and especially with Brexit, I’m sure Cyprus will remain very, very close to the UK,” he said.

During the reception, The Prince of Wales viewed maps of Cyprus dating back to the 1870s, and artefacts from the Bronze Age Cypriot town of Enkomi.

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Ms Emin, who is best known for her piece My Bed, discussed art with Charles and her family’s ties to the Mediterranean island.

Tracey Emin meeting the Prince of Wales
Tracey Emin meeting the Prince of Wales

“He wanted to know what my connection was to Cyprus so I said about the fact my great-great grandfather was a slave in the Ottoman Empire,” she said.

Ms Emin said she prompted laughter from Charles when she told him how her Sudanese ancestor was given 50 sheep along with his freedom by Cyprus 1860.