Constantine II in the Match photo archive
The first white hair appeared at the age of 27. Suddenly, December 13, 1967. “Worst day of my life,” he said. He was unable to restore the monarchy inherited from his great-grandfather George I, the last king of the Hellenes, Constantine II of Greece. Eight months earlier, in April 1967, taking advantage of the rift between the royal and executive powers, Greek colonels deposed him and tanks invested his palace. Constantine II, supported by democratic generals, in turn staged a coup to try to change the situation. Unsuccessful. After this failure, he had to flee his country to Italy.
It is not the first time that the monarch has been forced to leave Greece. He was only one year old when the occupation of his country by Nazi Germany in 1941 forced his family to settle in Egypt and then in South Africa, where his sister Princess Irene was born. Cherished by the women in his life, including his mother, Queen Frederica, Princess of Hanover, and the eldest, Sophie, who would become Queen of Spain by marrying Juan Carlos I, he returned to the land of his ancestors in 1947. He attends the coronation ceremony of his father Paul I, who replaced his uncle George II, who died suddenly at the age of 56.
His reign was short and turbulent, marked by an explosive political situation
Almost at the age of 7, he became the title of “diadoka”, which is held by the heir to the throne. Constantine then thinks about using his youth. A black belt in karate, an outstanding swimmer, he won a gold medal in sailing at the 1960 Rome Olympics. In addition to her performance as a sailor, she broke hearts, but her eyes were on her cousin, Anne-Marie of Denmark. , six years younger than him. The palace will wait for the bride to blow out seventeen candles to announce her engagement. But on March 6, 1964, the party was spoiled by a new twist of fate: Paul I succumbed to stomach cancer and died. Only 23 years old, Constantine should ascend the throne.
Despite the mourning, her marriage was celebrated six months later in joyous Athens, attended by dignitaries from around the world, including Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and a close cousin. His reign was short and turbulent, marked by an explosive political situation. When Constantine II packed his bags for Rome in 1967, taking his wife and first two children, Alexia and Paul, they persuaded him to return early. But what he thought was a temporary exile continues: the family, which includes three other infants – Nikolaos, Theodora and Philippos – settles in a spacious residence in London’s Hampstead district, where his budding butlers recall his happy aristocratic past.
In 1974, the Greeks voted to abolish the monarchy in a referendum.
In 1974, 70% of Greeks polled in a referendum declared that they were in favor of the absolute abolition of the monarchy: Constantine II’s last hopes were dashed. After the death of his mother, the former Queen Frederica, in 1981, he returned to his country for the first time as an ordinary citizen as Mr. Glucksburg, named after his dynasty. “It was clear to me that a large part of the Greek people wanted to see us again. And this welcome strengthened this deep desire in me to return to my country,” he said.
A dream that finally came true in 2013 when the former royal couple bought a magnificent villa in the Peloponnese overlooking the island of Spetses, where they gather their clan every summer. Constantine made one of his last public appearances in October 2021 at the wedding of his youngest son Philippos to Swiss businesswoman Nina Flohr. Impaired in a wheelchair, Constantine II relished this historic moment in the same way: the first royal wedding would take place in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens almost sixty years later.