Greek Presidential Guards

What Does It Take To Be A Greek Presidential Guard?

A half-Greek Yorkshireman has just completed his nine months of conscription in the Greek Army.

Greek Presidential Guards

Military precision matters for Armed Forces around the world, but a Yorkshireman considering joining the British Army is slightly more prepared than other new recruits.

Twenty-six-year-old Evangelos Marathos Rainey is half American and half Greek, but grew up in Yorkshire and has spent the past nine months as a Presidential Guard in Athens.

His role was to watch over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

All the guards are conscripts, and with Evangelos' conscription now complete he has returned to York and is now thinking of joining the British military.

What Does It Take To Join The Greek Presidential Guard?

In Greece it is seen as a huge honour to join the Guard, but not everybody is eligible to join.

To be considered, you must be:

  • Male
  • At least 6ft 2 in height
  • Greek Christian Orthodox
  • Caucasian 
  • Have no medical complaints
  • Have no visible tattoos

Every conscript guard is paid the same, 8.62 euros a month.

Symbolic Marching

The Greek Presidential Guard, also known as Evzones have a very technical and unique way of marching.

Each step and movement has a meaning behind it, even down to standing still while on duty.

Greek Presidential Guards on duty.

Standing still honours the dead, so the Guards do not move or talk. The only thing they are allowed to move are their eyes.

During the Guards marching, the leg flicks up as if saluting then stamps down. This is partly symbolic of a horse's step - as historically they would have been lead by officers on horseback.

Some believe the high step is also symbolic of stepping over dead bodies, as they would have had to do in battle.

At the top of the step the leg comes up, replicating their form of close combat fighting, as knives would have been concealed beneath the pom-poms on their clogs.

Lastly the raising of the leg makes the shape of a number four, which represents 400 years of Turkish rule and Turkish occupation.

Uniforms and facial hair

The Guards have to shave four times a day against the grain.

Members of the Presidential Guard are allowed to have a moustache, but only once they have completed 100 hours of Guard duty, meaning the facial hair is worn as a badge of honour.

The uniforms were worn originally by guerrilla fighters from the mountainous regions.

The thick socks kept them warm in the harsh winters, though are less comfortable in the 35 degrees Athens summers.

The nails on the bottoms of the clogs were for grip and the pompoms originally hid knives.

The red hat symbolises the blood of those who fell in battle.

The long tassel represents the tears of the Greeks under occupation by the Turks, and also the tears of Christ.