Constantine, the last king of Greece, passed away at the age of 82 on Tuesday, January 12, 2023. He died at a private hospital in Athens, where he had been receiving treatment in an intensive care unit. Constantine was the second son of Prince Paul of Greece and Denmark and Princess Frederica of Hanover. He was known for his popularity as a young king, his Olympic gold medal in sailing, and his role in the political turmoil that led to a military coup in 1967.
- When Constantine acceded to the throne as Constantine II at the age of 23 in 1964, he was hugely popular among the Greek people. He had already achieved glory as an Olympic gold medalist in sailing and was seen as a youthful and dynamic leader.
- However, by the following year, he had squandered much of his support due to his active involvement in the machinations that brought down the popularly elected Center Union government of Prime Minister George Papandreou. The episode, still widely known in Greece as the ï¿½apostasyï¿½ or defection from the ruling party of several lawmakers, destabilized the constitutional order and led to a military coup in 1967.
Exile and Return
- Constantine eventually clashed with the military rulers and was forced into exile. The dictatorship abolished the monarchy in 1973, and a referendum after democracy was restored in 1974 dashed any hopes that Constantine had of ever reigning again.
- In the following decades, he was only able to make fleeting visits to Greece that raised a political and media storm each time. However, in his waning years, he was able to settle again in his home country when opposing his presence no longer held currency as a badge of vigilant republicanism. With minimal nostalgia for the monarchy in Greece, Constantine became a relatively uncontroversial figure from the past.
Family and Background
- Constantine was born on June 2, 1940, in Athens, to Prince Paul, younger brother to King George II and heir presumptive to the throne, and Princess Federica of Hanover. His older sister Sophia is the wife of former King Juan Carlos I of Spain.
- The Greek-born Prince Philip, the late Duke of Edinburgh and husband of the United Kingdomï¿½s late Queen Elizabeth II, was an uncle. The family, which had ruled in Greece from 1863 apart from a 12-year republican interlude between 1922-1935, was descended from Prince Christian, later Christian IX of Denmark, of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glï¿½cksburg branch of the Danish ruling family.
Constantine's passing marks the end of an era for Greece as he was the last king of Greece. He was known for his popularity as a young king, his Olympic gold medal in sailing, and his role in the political turmoil that led to a military coup in 1967. Despite his exile and the abolition of the monarchy in 1973, Constantine was able to return to Greece in his later years and became a relatively uncontroversial figure from the past. He will be remembered as a significant historical figure in Greece's history.
Written by IAS POINT