The UK Will Not Return Parthenon Marbles to Greece

The UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak Said the Government’s Plan Is Not to Return the Parthenon’s Marbles Back to Greece Because of Their Worth for the UK.

Mar 13, 2023By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
The UK
The Parthenon Marbles, also known as the Elgin Marbles.


The UK Rishi Sunak said the Parthenon Marbles will remain in the UK. Overall, the attitude of the UK is based on the fact that the sculptures are of great importance to this country. The government called them their “greatest asset” and treasure. These marbles are Elgin Marbles. They are important Greek sculptures, which were no longer part of it after the era of Ottoman rule came. Now, the British Museum is their permanent home.


“The Elgin Marbles are the country’s great asset” – The UK PM

The UK
The Elgin Marbles


Sunak said Britain and the British Museum have been taking care of these sculptures for generations. This museum, as well as some other museums and galleries, are a great state treasure. Among other things, this reflects the fact that they are financed through taxes. The law protects the museum that will remain as it is – unchangeable.


“We share their treasures with the world, and the world comes to the UK to see them. The collection of The British Museum protects the law, and we have no plans to change it”, he said. In this way, he preserves the legacy of his predecessors, Liz Truss and Boris Johnson.  Everyone believes it is important to protect national wealth.


Parthenon Selene Horse
Parthenon Selene Horse


Regardless of the negotiations the UK and Greece conducted regarding the return of the sculptures, two countries did not come to an agreement. Through the government, the British Museum keeps track of the Elgin Marbles condition. Overall, sculptures have been part of the museum since the end of the 19th century. At that time, British diplomat Lord Elgin stripped them of the Parthenon.

Get the latest articles delivered to your inbox

Sign up to our Free Weekly Newsletter


Unsuccessful Negotiation Between the UK and Greece

Temporary Elgin Room
A portrait depicting the Elgin Marbles in a temporary Elgin Room at The British Museum, surrounded by museum staff, a trustee and visitors, 1819


The Greek government and George Osborne, the chair of the museum, had secret conversations for more than a year. Greece believes the sculptures must permanently return, while the British Museum considers only the loan. Osborne also thinks the marbles should remain in the UK. “We hear the voices calling for restitution. But creating this global British Museum was the dedicated work of many generations”, Osborne said.

He also says that the relocation of facilities must not become a permanent practice. The British government has no intention of repealing the British Museum Act. This act prohibits the museum from permanently returning any of the items in its collection, unless under very specific conditions.


The Elgin Marbles
The Elgin Marbles


The Greek Ministry of Culture issued a statement in January rejecting the prospect of any arrangement that upholds the UK’s ownership claim over the artifacts. “We repeat, once again, our country’s firm position that it does not recognize the British Museum’s jurisdiction, possession and ownership of the sculptures, as they are the product of theft”, the Greek Ministry of Culture said.
Author Image

By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.