Saturday, June 5, 2010

King Constantine Celebrates 70th Birthday

Constantine II, the deposed king of Greece, celebrated his 70th birthday on June 2.

Prince Constantine of Greece and Denmark was born June 2, 1940 in Psy
chiko, a suburb of Athens. He was the second child and only son of Crown Prince Paul of Greece and Princess Frederika of Hanover. At the time of his birth, his uncle King George II was on the Greek throne, but because his marriage to Princess Elisabeth of Romania had produced no children, Constantine's father was the heir presumptive.

In April 1941, when Constantine was barely a year old, his family fled into
exile as the Nazis marched into Greece. Constantine went to Cairo and eventually South Africa with his mother and elder sister Sophia, while his father went to London, where George II established the Greek government-in-exile.


Crown Prince Constantine with his mother, Queen Frederica, and his sister, Princess Sophia, the present Queen of Spain.



The royal family returned to Greece in 1946, and Constantine became crown prince when his father, Paul, ascended the throne upon the sudden death of George II in 1947. Constantine served in all three divisions of the Greek armed forces and studied law at Athens University. In 1960, 20-year-old Crown Prince Constantine competed in sailing at the Olympic Games in Rome, where his team won a Gold medal in sailing, Dragon Class.

Constantine became engaged to Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark, yo
ungest daughter of King Frederick IX, in 1964. In March of that year, King Paul died, and Constantine ascended the throne as Constantine II, King of the Hellenes. He and Anne-Marie were married in Athens in September 1964; the wedding was one of the largest gatherings of European royalty Greece had ever seen.


Queen Frederica, the future Queen Sophia of Spain, Queen Anne-Marie with her son Crown Prince Pavlos, Princess Irene, King Constantine and his daughter Princess Alexia at the christening of Crown Prince Pavlos in 1964.



A military coup in April 1967 placed Constantine in a precarious position. He swore in the military junta as the legitimate Greek government, but in December of that year he staged a counter-coup to overthrow the regime. The coup failed, and Constantine fled with his wife, their two elder children, his mother and his younger sister to Rome. Constantine remained the de facto head of state of Greece until 1973, when the junta declared Greece a republic and abolished the monarchy. When the junta collapsed a year later, the democratic prime minister Karamanlis returned from exile and, since the junta was generally regarded as an illegal government who took their power by illegitimate means, ordered a plebiscite to officially decide the fate of the monarchy. The Greek people voted 2 to 1 for the abolition of the monarchy, and since officially being deposed as king of Greece, Constantine and his wife have lived in exile near London.

King Constantine and Queen Anne-Marie have five children- Alexia, Pavlos, Nikolaos, Theodora and Philippos.


King Constantine is related to most of Europe's royal families. His elder sister, Soph
ia, is the Queen of Spain, while his wife Anne-Marie is the sister of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark. Through both of his parents, Constantine is descended from both Queen Victoria of Britain and King Christian IX of Denmark (Queen Anne-Marie is also their descendant). King Constantine is a close friend of Charles, Prince of Wales (Charles' father, Prince Philip, is a first cousin of Constantine's late father King Paul) and Constantine is also godfather to Charles' son, Prince William. The 1995 wedding of Constantine and Anne-Marie's eldest son Pavlos saw the gathering of more crowned heads of Europe than the storybook wedding of the Prince of Wales to Lady Diana Spencer.



King Constantine and Queen Anne-Marie at the 2004 wedding of Anne-Marie's nephew, Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark.


From left: Crown Princess Pavlos, Crown Prince Pavlos, Queen Anne-Marie, King Constantine and Constantine's sister, Princess Irene, in Madrid at the 2004 wedding of Constantine's nephew, Felipe of Spain.

2 comments:

  1. Long Live King Konstantine II, Βασιλευς των Ελληνων! We love you and I pray every day for your return to our country to help us... I believe you feel the same pain we do... watching our great and beautiful country on the brink of collapse and anarchy... I believe you can save us... Only you can save us... only his majesty our King...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Nikolaos. I like your comment that you wrote. I, also, am a fan of the Greek Royal Family.

      George from Boston, USA

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