Former King Constsantine II of the Hellenes, who was born in Psychiko, a suburb of the capital of Athens on 2 June 1940, died at the private Hygeia Hospital in Marousi outside Athens in the evening of 10 January 2023, 82 years old.
Constantine succeeded to the throne of Greece on the death of his father King Paul on 6 March 1964. After a failed counter-coup against the military rulers (the junta) in December 1967, the king and his family went into exile. In 1973 the junta declared Greece a republic. In 1974, following the downfall of the junta, the new leaders called a referendum to settle the question of the form of government. About 69 % of the electorate voted in favour of a republic. The King was not allowed back into the country before the referendum to defend his cause and was only able to hold a televised speech from London, but the republican majority was so strong that it is very doubtful that the outcome had been different if the king had been allowed to go home. The king's meddling in politics might have caused too many people to turn against him.
The former king and his family lived for many years at Hampstead, London. For many years the king was not allowed to visit his homeland, but the authorities let him make a brief stay in 1981 when his mother was buried at Tatoi, and could not stop him from visiting Athens during the Olympic Games in 2004 due to his role as a member of the International Olympic Committee. For many years the king was in conflict with the Greek authorities over property rights and citizenship. In 2013 the king received compensation (€12 millions) after winning the property case he had brought to the European Court of Human Righs. 2013 was also the year he returned to Greece for good, buying a house in Porto Cheli in the region of Argolis. As his health declined, he sold his villa and moved to Athens in 2021 to be closer to better health facilities there.
King Constantine II died the day before the 100th anniversary of the death of his grandfather King Constantine I (1868–1923).
Marriage and family
King Constantine married in 1964 in Athens his 3rd cousin Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark, by whom he had five children and 9 grandchildren. His eldest son Pavlos (Paul) succeeds him as head of the Greek Royal Family.
Due to his Danish, German and Russian ancestry the king was related to all the other royal and princely families in Europe. He was a brother-in-law to Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, the elder sister of his wife, and to the former King Juan Carlos of Spain, who was married to his sister Sofia. He was a 2nd cousin to King Charles III of the United Kingdom and a 3rd cousin to King Harald V of Norway.
The Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has extended his sincere condolences to the king's family, but did not make much effort to hide his views on the history of the Greek monarchy and the late king's role in it. He has been quoted as saying that «The eventful life of former king Constantine marked and was marked by turbulent moments in the country’s modern history. The wounds were healed by the choices, the free conscience and the maturity of the Greek people. His passing is, on a human level, the formal epilogue to a chapter that was closed and done with the 1974 referendum.»
The Danish Royal Court has issued the following statement:
It is with great sorrow that HM The Queen and The Royal Family have received the announcement that HM King Konstantin II of Greece passed away on Tuesday evening.
At this time, The Royal Family’s thoughts are with HM Queen Anne-Marie and the entire Greek family.
King Konstantin was born in Greece in 1940 as the son of King Paul and Queen Frederikke. King Konstantin assumed the Greek throne after his father in 1964 and was married to the Danish Princess Anne-Marie the same year.
The Royal Couple lived in Rome and London respectively from 1967 to 2013, after which they again settled in Greece.
In 1974, the monarchy in Greece was abolished by a national referendum.
The flags at Amalienborg are flying at half-mast today.
The Office of Crown Prince Alexander of Serbia has released the following statement at its website:
With great sadness, Their Royal Highnesses Crown Prince Alexander and Crown Princess Katherine received the very sad news that their dear cousin, Godfather and friend, HM King Constantine II of Hellenes passed away yesterday, 10 January 2023, in Athens, Greece.
Relations between the Royal families of Greece and Serbia have always been marked with sincere and cordial friendship and deep family bonds. HM King Constantine II was the best man at TRH Crown Prince Alexander and Crown Princess Katherine’s wedding in 1985, and His Majesty was also the Godfather of the Crown Prince’s sons, HRH Hereditary Prince Philip and HRH Prince Alexander. Also, the daughter of the late King of Greece, HRH Princess Theodora, is HRH Crown Prince Alexander’s Godchild.
HRH Crown Prince Alexander and the Royal family of Serbia send their condolences and deepest sympathy to HM Queen Anne-Marie, late King’s sisters HM Queen Sophia of Spain, and HRH Princess Irene of Greece, his children HRH Crown Prince Pavlos, HRH Princess Alexia, HRH Prince Nikolaos, HRH Princess Theodora, and HRH Prince Philippos, and all the other members of the Royal family of Greece for their extremely sad loss.
During these most difficult moments, the Royal Family of Serbia shares grief and pain for the passing of His Majesty and sends prayers to the Lord to remember the late King in His mercy. HM King Constantine II will be greatly missed, but the memory of him will be kept forever, with great love and respect.
HRH Crown Prince Alexander was also in close family relations with the late HM King Constantine II. Crown Prince Alexander’s maternal grandfather HM King Alexander of Greece who married Aspasia Manos, was the brother of HM King Paul of Greece, HM King Constantine II’s father.
Crown Prince Alexander was a first cousin once removed to King Constantine.
The Greek government discussed earlier today whether «a state funeral is appropriate», but decided against it. The funeral will therefore be private. Considering the fact that the Greek government offers a state funeral to other former heads of state, as for instance when former president Karolos Papoulias died in 2021, it is quite telling that the late king was refused one. Although the king was a controversial figure, one could have hoped that the government would show more generosity towards a man who always had Greece and his people close at heart. Shouldn't the authorities show more confidence in its republic after so many years?
The funeral service will take place in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens on Monday 16 January 2023, followed by burial at the royal cemetery at Tatoi. It is expected that the funeral will be attended by members of Europe's current and past royal and princely families, including Spain, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania.