Constantine II, the Last King of Greece, dies at 82 in Athens. Sending Our Condolences

King Constantine II of Greece dies at 82

Constantine II, the last King of Greece, died in Athens, Greece, on January 10. He was 82. Four days ago, he was rushed to the ICU of Hygeia hospital in Athens after suffering from an acute stroke at his home according to an earlier report. 

"It is with deep sadness that the royal family announces that HM King Constantine, beloved husband, father, and brother, passed away yesterday," Constantine's private office said in a statement on Wednesday.

King Constantine II of Greece dies at 82

His three sons, Crown Prince Pavlos, Prince Nikolaos, and Prince Philippos visited Maximos Mansion for a meeting with members of the Greek government, in Athens, Greece, today, January 11. 

King Constantine II of Greece dies at 82
Prince Philippos, Crown Prince Pavlos, and Prince Nikolaos

The former Greek king would be buried privately in Tatoi, the summer palace of the former Greek royal family, where his ancestors are also laid to rest, the Greek government said.

There will be a funeral procession on January 16, 2023, at the Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens, according to the statement of the former king's office.

King Constantine II of Greece dies at 82

Greek politicians extended their condolences to the Greek royal family.

"The eventful journey of the former King Constantine marked and was marked by turbulent moments in Greece's modern history, wounds healed by the choices, the free conscience, and the maturity of our people," Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a statement.

He added that the former king's death is "the formal epilogue of a chapter that has been definitively closed with the 1974 referendum."

Life of the fallen king

Constantine II was born during World War II, on June 2, 1940, in Villa Psychiko at Leoforos Diamantidou, Psychiko, a suburb of Athens, Greece, during the reign of his paternal uncle, King George II. 

King Constantine II of Greece dies at 82
The young King Constantine II of Greece

He was the second child and only son of then-Crown Prince Paul and Princess Frederica of Hanover. He has an older sister, Queen Sofia of Spain, and a younger sister, Princess Irene who is now living in Spain. 

The following year, his family lived in exile in Egypt when Germany invaded Greece. They went back home in 1946 after World War II.

King Constantine II of Greece dies at 82
King Constantine II and his uncle, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

His father, a first cousin of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, became King Paul I in 1947, following the death of the childless King George II. Constantine became the Crown Prince.

Constantine was an avid sportsman, apart from his blackbelt in taekwondo, he was an Olympian, having won gold with his team in the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Italy, in the Dragon Class category of the sailing event.

Four years later on March 6, 1964, King Paul I died from stomach cancer, the Crown Prince immediately ascended the throne as King Constantine II at the age of 23. 

King Constantine II of Greece dies at 82
wedding of King Constantine II of Greece and Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark

In September of that year, he married his second cousin, Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark, the youngest child of King Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid of Denmark. 

Their eldest child, Princess Alexia, was born in 1965, at the royal family's summer residence, Mon Repos, in Corfu, Greece, also the birthplace of Prince Philip. Their second child, Crown Prince Pavlos, was born two years later.

King Constantine II ascended the Greek throne during the time Greece experienced political unrest. For the next three years since his accession to the throne, the Greek government was unstable and the society was largely polarized.

King Constantine II of Greece dies at 82
young King Constantine II of Greece

The prime minister, George Papandreou, initially had a close relationship with Constantine, but it soon ended when the prime minister did not like Constantine’s views on his prerogatives as the monarch.

Papandreou later had a heated exchange of letters with the king, demanding to be appointed as defense minister. But he later resigned in July 1965.

King Constantine’s decision to appoint government officials composed of centrist defectors was hugely unpopular. Later, protests erupted in 1965, and two years later in April 1967, a military coup was launched by middle-aged high-ranking military officers.

The king reportedly refused to exercise his power as Commander-in-Chief to crush the military coup to avoid bloodshed in his country. 

On Dec. 13, 1967, he and his family flew to the northern city of Kavala to seek support from the remaining royalists to prepare a counter-coup. But the plan was infiltrated and failed. 

King Constantine was forced to flee Greece and took his family on a royal plane to Rome the following day. He would never return as reigning king again until the Greek government abolished the monarchy in 1973. Greece declared a republic in 1974.

In 1994, the Greek socialist government stripped him of his nationality and sequestered the royal family’s property. Constantine went to the European Court of Human Rights to bring his case and was awarded 12 million euros in 2002, a fraction of the 500 million he had sought.

King Constantine II, Queen Anne-Marie, and their children later moved to England and settled in Hampstead. 

After his deposition, the Greek government refused to issue him and his family a passport, so Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, her sister-in-law, issued them a Danish diplomatic passport because as direct descendants of King Christian IX of Denmark in the male line, they are also Danish royals.

Family vacation in Palma de Mallorca. From left: Constantine II holding Princess Theodora (Queen Anne Marie at the back), Princess Diana, Prince Charles, King Juan Carlos of Spain holding Prince William, Queen Sofia with Prince Harry, and Infanta Elena (Infanta Cristina partly hidden)
Former King of Greece and his godson, Prince William

Living in Hampstead, England, King Constantine II founded a management consultancy business. He also took part in many royal events around Europe. The European Royal Houses continued to address him as His Majesty King Constantine II.

King Constantine II of Greece dies at 82
Constantine II with then Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall

He was the closest cousin of now King Charles III and one of the godfathers of Prince William, the Prince of Wales.

In 2004, he briefly returned to Greece during the Athens Olympics as a member of the International Olympic Committee. The IOC continued to address him as His Majesty.

Constantine II (center) with his son, Prince Nikolaos, and daughter, Princess Theodora. Standing at the back: Princess Irene, Queen Anne-Marie, and Queen Sofia of Spain

In 2013, King Constantine II and Queen Anne-Marie returned to live permanently in Greece. They purchased a home in Porto Cheli, Peloponnese, a summer resort town in the municipality of Ermionida in the southeastern part of Argolis, Greece. 

In the spring of 2022, they relocated to Athens. The former Greek king suffered multiple health problems in his final years, including heart conditions and decreased mobility.

He became wheelchair-bound which made him unable to travel out of Greece. 

Former King of Greece, Constantine II, in a wheelchair, attending the wedding of his youngest child, Prince Philippos, in October 2021, Athens.

He was the sixth King of Greece under the House of Glucksburg since his great-grandfather, King George I, born Prince William of Denmark, was elected to reign in Greece after the Ottoman era.

He and Queen Anne-Marie had five children: Princess Alexia (born in 1965 in Mon Repos), Crown Prince Pavlos (born in 1967 in Athens), Prince Nikolaus (born in 1969 in Rome), Princess Theodora (born in 1983 in London), and Prince Philippos (born in 1986 in London).

Our deepest sympathy and condolences to the bereaved family of King Constantine II on his passing. May his soul rest in eternal peace.

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