For five very brief hours in 1981, Prince Nikolaos was allowed to enter the country his family once ruled.
He was there to bury his grandmother, Queen Frederika, at the palace they used to own, almost an hour from Athens.
Afterwards Prince Nikolaos, who was then aged 11, left immediately with his family.
Those few hours were enough to let an ache take hold for a country he had never before visited. He vowed to return.
Although he was born in Rome and grew up in London, Prince Nikolaos of Greece and Denmark had long felt uneasy in Britain.
His family had lived in exile since the late 1960s after a military uprising.
“I never felt English,” Prince Nikolaos said.
“I was brought up Greek and I always felt Greek, even though I couldn’t set foot there.”
Instead, his cultural education came from the Hellenic College of London, a boarding school set up by his parents in the exclusive west London suburb of Knightsbridge.
There, among the children of Greek families, he was schooled in the Hellenic way.
“I lived my daily life with Greeks, as a Greek,” he said proudly.
Together the children would speak the language of their parents and dream of the home they had left behind.
But this sense of belonging usually only lasted until the school holidays began.
“They’d go back home to Greece and I had a yearning to go and be there in the country and of course be there with my friends, and I didn’t have that opportunity,” he said.
That intense longing has been a major influence in the Prince’s work as a photographer.
His landscapes, which focus on the light, movement and colour of Greece, offer a stunning glimpse at the desire he had for his homeland.
“The underlying yearning to return is definitely present in my photography, although it’s not my intention,” Prince Nikolaos said.
“It is quite mesmerising,” said John Tatoulis, chief executive of the Hellenic Museum in Melbourne, where the Prince will open his first solo exhibition on Sunday.
“When I first saw a couple of examples of Nikolaos’ work, I felt that he captured that mood, that essence, that magic particularly of his seascapes where light interplays with water,” Mr Tatoulis said.
“It’s almost a spiritual experience, experiencing the Greek light.”
These days, after decades of absence, Prince Nikolaos now lives in Greece.
He hopes his photographs will speak to those people who have long missed their place of birth.
“I think when they do look at the photographs, I think that there will be a certain identification with what was going on in my mind and my soul when I was taking these photographs.”
Prince Nikolaos’ exhibition, PHOS: Journey of Light, will open at the Hellenic Museum at 280 William Street in Melbourne on Sunday, and will run until July 29, 2018.