Dragon class. Constantine II ( Greek: Κωνσταντίνος Βʹ, Konstantínos II, pronounced [ˌkonstanˈdinos]; born 2 June 1940) reigned as the last King of Greece, from 6 March 1964 until the abolition of the monarchy on 1 June 1973. Constantine is the only son of King Paul and Queen Frederica of Greece.
Constantine II (Greek: Κωνσταντῖνος Βʹ, Βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἑλλήνων, Konstantínos Βʹ, Vasiléfs ton Ellínon; born 2 June 1940) was King of the Hellenes from 1964 until the abolition of the monarchy in 1973, the sixth and last monarch of the Greek Royal Family. He succeeded his father Paul in March 1964, being styled His Majesty Constantine II, King of the ...
- Early Life
- Crown Prince
- Greek Dictatorship 1967–1974
- Restoration of Democracy and The Referendum
- in Exile
- Later Life
- Marriage and Children
- Titles, Styles and Honours
- See Also
Constantine was born in the afternoon of 2 June 1940 at his parent's residence, the Psychiko Palace in Psychiko, a suburb of Athens. He was the nephew of King George II, and also the second child and only legitimate son of the childless king's younger brother and heir presumptive, Crown Prince Paul. His mother, Princess Frederica of Hanover, was the only daughter of Ernest Augustus, Duke of Brunswick and Princess Victoria Louise of Prussia. The birth of a male heir to the throne was anxiously awaited by the Greek royal family and was celebrated with a 101–gun salute from Mount Lycabettus in Athens. According to Greek naming practices, being the first son, he was named for his paternal grandfather, King Constantine I. At his baptism in Athens, the Hellenic Armed Forces acted as his godparent. At birth, Prince Constantine had an elder sister, Princess Sofia, born in 1938, who would later become Queen of Spain as the wife of the now retired King Juan Carlos I of Spain. The family was l...
Constantine was educated at a preparatory school and later a boarding school (Victoria College of Alexandria, Egypt, where his classmates included King Hussein of Jordan and actor Omar Sharif).A fellow student recalled him as "a good chap, a young man with all the right instincts. He was at his best on the playing fields." Constantine served in all three branches of the Hellenic Armed Forces, attending the requisite military academies. He also attended the NATO Air Force Special Weapons School in Germany, as well as the University of Athens, where he took courses in the school of law. Constantine was an able sportsman. In 1960, aged 20, he won an Olympic gold medal in sailing (dragon class), which was the first Greek gold medal in sailing since the Stockholm 1912 Summer Olympics. He was also a strong swimmer and had a black belt in karate, with interests in squash, track events and riding. In 1963 Constantine became a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). He resigned...
In March 1964, King Paul died of cancer, and the 23-year-old Constantine succeeded him as king. Prior to this, Constantine had already been appointed as regentfor his ailing father. King Paul's long-time prime minister Konstantinos Karamanlis regarded him partly responsible for his fall from leadership in 1963. However, due to his youth, he was also perceived as a promise of change. The accession of Constantine coincided with the recent election of Centrist George Papandreou as prime minister in February 1964, which ended 11 years of right-wing rule by the National Radical Union(ERE). Greece was still feeling the effects of the Civil Warof 1944–49 between communists and monarchists, and society was strongly polarised between the royalist/conservative right and the liberal/socialist left. It was hoped that the new young king and the new prime minister would be able to overcome past dissensions. Initially, relations between the king and Papandreou seemed good, but by...
Elections were scheduled for 28 May 1967, with expectations of a wide Centrist victory. According to United States diplomat John Day, the Americans worried that, due to the old age of George Papandreou, Andreas Papandreouwould have a very powerful role in the next government. According to the United States diplomats Robert Keely and John Owens, who were attached to the United States embassy in Greece at the time, Constantine asked United States Ambassador Phillips Talbot what the attitude of the United States government would be to an extra-parliamentary solution to this problem. The embassy responded negatively in principle, adding that "US reaction to such a move cannot be determined in advance but would depend on circumstances at time". To this day, Constantine denies all this. According to then-Ambassador from the United States Phillips Talbot, after this communication, Constantine met with the generals of the army, who promised the king that they would not take any action befor...
In July 1974, the events in Cyprus led to the downfall of the military regime, and Karamanlis returned from exile to become prime minister. The 1973 republican constitution was regarded as illegitimate, and the new administration issued a constitutional decree restoring the 1952 constitution. Constantine confidently awaited an invitation to return.On 24 July he declared his "deep satisfaction with the initiative of the armed forces in overthrowing the dictatorial regime" and welcomed the advent of Karamanlis as prime minister. The former king visited both Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street and openly declared his hope to be shortly returning to Greece. However, the 1952 constitution was not restored with the overthrow of the illegal junta. Following Karamanlis' resounding victory in the November 1974 parliamentary elections (his New Democracy party won 54.4% of the vote), he called a referendum(held on 8 December 1974) on whether Greece would restore the monarchy or remain a re...
Constantine remained in exile for almost forty years after the vote in favour of the republic. He was strongly discouraged from returning to Greece, and he did not return until February 1981, when the government only allowed him to return for a few hours, to attend the funeral of his mother, Queen Frederica, in the family cemetery of the former Royal Palace at Tatoi. There were also legal disputes with the Greek state. In 1992 he concluded an agreement with the conservative government of Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis, ceding most of his land in Greece to a non-profit foundation in exchange for the former palace of Tatoi, near Athens, and the right to export a number of movables from Greece. The latter reportedly included privately owned art treasures from the royal palaces. As such, no formal account of what was removed was ever given or needed to be given. In 1993, Constantine visited Greece, but faced with government insecurity, he was asked to leave. In 1994, the second g...
Following the abolition of the monarchy, Constantine has repeatedly stated that he recognizes the Republic, the laws and the constitution of Greece. He told Time, "If the Greek people decide that they want a republic, they are entitled to have that and should be left in peace to enjoy it." Constantine and Anne-Marie for many years lived in Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, Constantine being a close friend of his second cousin Charles, Prince of Wales, and a godfather to Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, his second cousin once removed. He sold his house in Hampstead in 2013. Constantine is a patron of Box Hill School, a public school in Dorking, in the south of England. In 2004, Constantine returned to Greece temporarily during the Athens Olympic Games as a member of the International Olympic Committee. On 24 December 2004, Constantine and Anne-Marie and members of the former royal family visited the Presidential Mansion (the former Royal Palace) in Athens where Constantine met Presi...
On 18 September 1964, in a Greek Orthodox ceremony in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens, he married Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark. The children of Constantine and Anne-Marie are: 1. Princess Alexia, born on 10 July 1965 at Mon Repos in Corfu. She was married on 9 July 1999 in London to Carlos Morales Quintana. 2. Crown Prince Pavlos, born on 20 May 1967 at Tatoi Palace in Athens. He was married on 1 July 1995 in London to Marie-Chantal Miller. 3. Prince Nikolaos, born on 1 October 1969 at Villa Claudia Clinic in Rome. He was married on 25 August 2010 in Spetses to Tatiana Elinka Blatnik. 4. Princess Theodora, born on 9 June 1983 in St Mary's Hospital, London, who is pursuing an acting career. 5. Prince Philippos, born on 26 April 1986 in St Mary's Hospital, London. He works as a hedge fund analyst in New York. He married Nina Nastassja Flohr on 12 December 2020 in St. Moritzin a civil ceremony.
Titles and styles
Until 1994, Constantine's official Greek passport identified him as "Constantine, former King of the Hellenes". A law passed in 1994 stripped him of his Greek citizenship, passport, and property. The law stated that Constantine could not be granted a Greek passport unless he adopted a surname. Constantine has stated: "I don't have a name—my family doesn't have a name. The law that Mr Papandreou passed basically says that he considers that I am not Greek and that my family was Greek only so lo...
1. Denmark: Knight of the Order of the Elephant 1.1. Grand Commander of the Order of the Dannebrog 1.2. Recipient of the Silver Anniversary Medal of Queen Margrethe II and Prince Henrik 1.3. Recipient of the 75th Birthday Medal of Queen Margrethe II 1.4. Recipient of the Ruby Jubilee Medal of Queen Margrethe II 1.5. Recipient of the 70th Birthday Medal of Queen Margrethe II 1.6. Recipient of...
King Constantine II of Greece (* 2.6.1940, O 18.9.1964) Princess Sofía of Greece and Denmark, Queen consort of Spain Princess Irene of Greece and Denmark: King Paul of Greece (* 14.12.1901, O 9.1.1938, † 6.3.1964) King George II of Greece King Alexander of Greece Princess Helen of Greece and Denmark, Queen Mother of Romania: King Constantine ...
Constantine II is also Co-President of Honour of the International Sailing Federation with King Harald V of Norway, since 1994. As of 2013, Constantine II has returned to reside in Greece. In November 2015, the autobiography of Constantine was published in three volumes by the national newspaper, To Vima. It has not yet been published in ...
- June 02, 1940
- London, United Kingdom
- Psychiko, Athen, Greece
- Plot summary
- Later life
- Personal life
- Later years
Once upon a time, in a kingdom by the sea, a handsome 24-year-old king married a beautiful 18-year-old princess, and the people of the kingdom rejoiced, and the king and queen lived in a golden palace in the capital, surrounded by royal gardens. The king in this fairy tale was Constantine II of Greece. His teenage bride was Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark. But in 1967, three years after their wedding, after a coup and a failed countercoup, the young couple and their two small children were driven out of Greece, making a harrowing escape that forced the family into more than four decades of exile. In 1974, while Constantine was living in England and forbidden to speak on his own behalf, the king's subjects abolished the monarchy and stripped the royal family of its palaces, titles, property, and passports.
Now, almost 50 years after he left Greece, at a moment when the eyes of the world regard the country with pity and sorrow, when wealthy Greeks have long since stashed their money in other countries, and when young Greeks are desperately seeking ways to go anywhere else to find work, Constantine, no longer young, has chosen to move back to his native land, investing heavily in a new home for his remaining years and living as a commoner.
It's not as if his life of exile gave him no pleasure. Constantine has thrived for decades at the pinnacle of international society,socializing with Europe's royals (most of them his relatives). In 1986, to celebrate Queen Anne-Marie's 40th birthday, Constantine took over Claridge's Hotel in London for a ball attended by Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip (Constantine's cousin), along with Prince Charles and Princess Diana, King Juan Carlos of Spain and his wife Queen Sofia (Constantine's sister), Queen Margrethe of Denmark (his sister-in-law), and virtually all the other royals of Europe. The glittering crowd danced to Lester Lanin's orchestra until dawn, when breakfast was served. When Constantine turned 60, in 2000, Prince Charles hosted a gala at his country home, Highgrove. It was on that occasion that Queen Elizabeth and Camilla Parker Bowles retired to a convenient room for their first private conversation.
So the question must be asked: Why, at the moment of his country's greatest economic turmoil, would Constantine elect to return to a commoner's existence in Greece, the country that took away his crown, and even his citizenship?
\\"It's a mystery to us,\\" said Dino Anagnostopoulos, the king's lifelong friend and former classmate. \\"I don't understand how a man who knows everybody who is anybody in this world would choose to go back to Greeceand especially now, when the country is going through such hard times.\\"
The prince's parents created a rigorous boarding school, Anavryta, for his education and handpicked 14 boys to be his classmates. They became his closest friends for life. On weekends, away from the spartan school's regime of cold showers and 6 a.m. runs, the young prince would invite friends to the summer palace of Tatoi, north of Athens, where his parents held opulent balls and well-born Greek maidens dreamed of catching the eye of the handsome prince. It was not to be. At 19, on a state visit to Denmark, he fell hard for Princess Anne-Marie, youngest daughter of King Frederick IX of Denmark and sister of the current queen, Margrethe II. She was just 13. On their second meeting, in 1961, when she was 15 and he was 21, he announced to his parents that he was going to marry Anne-Marie. \\"I didn't ask or suggest. I talked about it as a fait accompli,\\" he recalled.
Convincing Anne-Marie's father was more difficult. When he asked Frederick IX for permission to marry his daughter, the king locked Constantine in a nearby bathroom. When Frederick told his wife, Queen Ingrid, of the proposal, she suggested he release Constantine and open a bottle of champagne.
In March 1964, King Paul died of cancer, making his 23-year-old son King Constantine II. The new king and Anne-Marie married six months later, in Athenstwo weeks after the bride's 18th birthday. \\"I was the first king ever to marry in Greece,\\" he said with a smile. \\"And last year we were fortunate to celebrate our 50th anniversaryback in Athens, at the former Royal Yacht Club in Piraeus.\\"
On December 13, 1967, before dawn, the king launched a countercoup, flying with his pregnant wife, their two-year-old daughter, Alexia, seven-month old Crown Prince Pavlos, Constantine's mother Queen Frederica, and his sister Princess Irene to Kavala, a city in northern Greecea place where he believed the army and its generals were loyal to him. He intended to create an alternative government in Thessaloniki, the second-largest city in Greece. As the dictatorship was crumbling, the veteran political leader Constantine Karamanlis, in self-exile in Paris, was in constant phone contact with the exiled king in London. \\"We had been talking throughout the day,\\" Constantine said, \\"and that afternoon Karamanlis said he had been asked to go back to Athens. I said, 'By whom?' He said by people representing the junta. I said, 'Shall I come with you?' He said, 'No, let me go and see what is happening and I'll call you in the morning.'
The air force and navy immediately declared for the king and mobilized, but the colonels in Athens put together a force that advanced north, and within hours it was clear the countercoup had failed. \\"I understood afterward, when you start something like this, it has to work in the first hour, two hours maximum, or it's a waste of time,\\" Constantine said. \\"You would have to enforce it with a lot of bloodshed. The Greeks had been through a terrible civil war, and I wasn't going to put them through that again.\\" On the heels of these agonizing events, Queen Anne-Marie suffered a miscarriage. \\"It was a very dark period in our history,\\" Constantine said, with obvious emotion. \\"A lot of officers who supported me were badly treated by the colonels when we failed. But at least we all made a major effort to free our country from that dictatorship.\\" In 1973 the colonels in the junta were themselves replaced by younger officers, and when the new leaders tried to stage a coup in Cyprus in the summer of 1974, it prompted an invasion of the island by Turkey, and military rule in Greece collapsed. Karamanlis formed a party, New Democracy, which won a resounding victory in November 1974, and then Constantine's former ally called for a referendum on the monarchy for December 8. The king was not allowed to go to Greece to campaign or to speak to the people on TV, and when the results were announced, only 31 percent of the population had voted for the king's restoration. When Papandreou lost the election the following year, negotiations continued with the new government, and a tentative agreement was reached. But when Papandreou returned to power in 1993, he revoked that agreement. According to Costas Strongylos, a longtime friend of Constantine's and his private secretary since 1999, \\"Under the new law, enacted in 1994, all of the king's property was confiscated by the Greek state. The law further stated that in order for the king and his family to hold Greek passports, they had to accept the referendum abolishing the monarchy and select an ordinary last name like those used by all other Greek citizens.\\" After the first surprise visit, the king and his family came back more often, without the excitement. But his arrival in Greece as a representative of the Olympics in the summer of 2004 was filled with irony and drew unexpected support from all points on the political spectrum. \\"As I approached the president, every pair of eyes were on us,\\" Constantine remembered. \\"I said to the poor man, 'Mr. President, do you do rousfetia [favors]?' And he said, 'What's on your mind?' I said, 'I want you to invite my family to the palace, to see all the changes.' \\"
Over the next year the junta sent feelers to the king, trying to negotiate terms under which he would return, but he insisted on the restoration of democracy. He believes the colonels also engineered two attempts on his life.
\\"The second time,\\" he said, \\"I was going to Tehran to meet the shah. When I got to Heathrow, I noticed that the flight was quite long, with two stops, so I changed to a direct flight on British Airways. When I got to Tehran the shah told me there had been an assassin on the Frankfurt leg of the original flight, but his people had intercepted him. 'So what happened to the fellow?' I asked. 'Do you really want to know?' he said.\\" \\"Of course,\\" Constantine said, \\"the call never came.\\" When Constantine and Anne-Marie landed in Athens, \\"it was clear nobody realized we were on the plane. We showed the passports and suddenly they said, 'The king is in the VIP lounge!' and there was all kinds of commotion. Then I called the Greek ambassador back in London and said, 'Tell the government the king is back in Greece, and here is my itinerary. I'm going to Tatoi to have a memorial service for my parents, and then I'm going to the Pentelikon Hotel to spend the night. I will leave the next morning.' I came to show them I could come when I wanted to come, not when someone told me I could.\\" \\" 'Of course!' he replied. 'Just tell your secretary and mine to agree on the date.' \\" That visit to what had once been the royal palace in Athens, now the presidential palace, occurred on December 24, 2004. \\"It was horrible!\\" Constantine exclaimed. \\"All the former bedrooms don't exist. Gone! Everything elseevery roomis an office. I asked him, 'How many people work here?' He told me 120. I had 13. \\"Today the president has a huge amount of security, and according to the constitution the president is paid a salary and it's his money,\\" Constantine continued. \\"Now the running of the presidential palace is paid for with the taxpayers' money. So are the president's telephones, heating, cars, drivers, clothes, state visitsall paid for by the state. For us it was the complete opposite. We were paid X amountI think it was 7 million drachmas and I paid for my own education with an inheritance, because my father was running out of money. Part of the excuse against me was that royalty costs too much. But royalty costs so much less! Today we have, I don't know, three or four former heads of state. All of them have pensions, and so do all their police, security, drivers, and secretaries.\\"
In 1980, Constantine and Anne-Marie created the Hellenic College of London, where their own children were educated in both English and Greek. (After the escape from Greece and the miscarriage, Anne-Marie gave birth in Rome to Prince Nikolaos, in 1969, and then, in London, to Princess Theodora, in 1983, and Prince Philippos, in 1986.)
The king then sued in the European Court of Human Rights, which set aside the name issue and asked for valuations of the king's properties. The government's appraisers put the value at $550 million, according to Strongylos; the king's put it at $500 million. The courts handed the case to a commission of three, which decided that the former royal family would not receive either estimate; the king would have to settle for 12 mil- lion euros, and his sister Irene for 900,000 euros.
The Greek government waited until the last day permitted by the ruling, then paid the king out of the country's natural disasters fund, in order to make it look as if Constantine were depleting his country's emergency resources. He countered by putting the money into the Anna-Maria Foundation, to allocate the funds back to the Greek people for use in \\"extraordinary natural disasters and charitable causes.\\"
As the 2004 summer Olympics in Athens approached, everyone knew that the ex-king would be coming to Greece as an honorary member of the International Olympic Committee. \\"Ever since they created the republic through the referendum in 1974, I decided to stay away and not interfere,\\" he said. \\"But as time passed, I had the feeling that they were going to use my presence at the Olympic Games to say that I was trying to come back as king. I wasn't going to have any of that. So I came back to Greece in 2003the year before the Olympics. Everyone was taken by surprise.\\"
Tales of Constantine's loyalty and kindness to his former classmates abound. \\"Constantine was not only best man at my wedding and my daughter's, he baptized two of my granddaughters, too,\\" said Anagnostopoulos, who feels that his friend's decision to return to Greece ultimately has to do with \\"wanting to end his life where he began it. Constantine is happiest when he's there.\\"
\\"He's homesickdown-to-the-bone homesick,\\" said Soucacos. \\"Besides his family, and standing up to the junta, he's proudest of winning an Olympic gold medal for Greece. He has never thought of any other place as home.\\"
Back in 2002, Constantine told Larry King that the only good thing about living in exile was that he had \\"much more time to see my children grow up.\\" But the children have done that and gone. His youngest son, Philippos, 29, works in finance in New York, and his youngest daughter, Theodora, 31, is an actress in Hollywood (as Theodora Greece). Nikolaos, 45, is married to Tatiana Blatnik and lives in Kastri, Greece, in an apartment owned by the daughter of the king's late nemesis, Papandreou. Eldest son Pavlos, 48, married Marie-Chantal Miller, whose billionaire father, Robert Warren Miller, developed duty-free shops at airports; they live with their five children in London. The eldest, Alexia, 50, is married to an architect, Carlos Morales Quintana, and they live with their four children in Spain. \\"My eldest grandchild turned 16 yesterday,\\" Constantine said. \\"He's a diver. He's everything: a rower, a diver, a scholar. We are very lucky with our grandchildren.\\"
Seven years ago, at the age of 68, Constantine underwent heart surgery in Londona reminder of his mortality that undoubtedly fueled his desire to move home full-time. When he's in Greece he lives in Porto Heli, the seaside town he visited years ago followed by the Greek navy. According to Costas Strongylos, Constantine financed the purchase of the house by \\"selling his London properties for a good profit. He also made money in business deals in the Middle East.\\"
But why, when so many others have chosen to flee, has he gone in the other direction and thrown in his lotand his own still considerable resourceswith the country that revoked his birth- right? Why return to his homeland when it has been reduced to economic chaos?
King Constantine II of Greece pictured together with Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark on their wedding day in Athens, Greece on 18th September 1964. Group portrait of members of the Greek royal family at the christening of Princess Alexia of Greece and Denmark in 1965. From left to right: King...