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Sunday, February 5, 2023

Prince William’s godfather: Former Greek King Constantine II is dead

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This was reported in the evening by the state radio and the state news agency. The ex-monarch’s health had deteriorated in the past few days after a stroke. He is to be buried privately. This was decided by the government under Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Wednesday. The funeral will take place in his family’s summer palace, “where his ancestors are buried,” the Greek Prime Minister’s office said in a statement.

constantine II. was the last king of the country. Ten years after he ascended the throne as King of the Hellenes in 1964, the monarchy in Greece was abolished by referendum. The former king maintained close ties to the British royal family. In 1982 he even became Prince William’s godfather.

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In recent days, his entire family has been by his side – including his wife Anne-Marie, who is the Danish Queen’s sister, and their five children. His sister, the Spanish queen mother Sofia, also traveled to Greece at the weekend, as reported by state radio.

Death is likely to trigger mourning, especially among the older Greeks. constantine was in the headlines from a young age. The playboy life of the young crown prince is legendary in the country constantine. Veteran journalists still tell of secret meetings with a successful actress. He is said to have had a lot of arguments with his mother. constantine was also successful in sport: in 1960, together with two other Greek sailors, he won the gold medal at the Olympic Games in Rome in what was then the dragon class.

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After ascending the throne in 1964, he was one of the youngest monarchs in Europe. In the same year he married the then 18-year-old Danish Princess Anne-Marie. The wedding in Athens was then televised in many countries.

The initially inexperienced constantine II. but quickly got involved in disputes with the political leadership. He made a fatal mistake: on April 21, 1967, a military group staged a coup in Greece. In order – as he kept saying – to avert bloodshed, tolerated constantine the putschists. He had his picture taken with them and even signed for the formation of a military government. Many Greeks have never forgiven him for that.

After the restoration of democracy, the monarchy in Greece was abolished in December 1974. Almost 70 percent of voters voted against in a referendum constantine.

Painful years of disputes with his native country followed. He was expropriated and only compensated after a decision by the European Court of Human Rights in 2000. After that, relations with both the governments and the Greeks normalized. constantine bought a villa on the Peloponnese peninsula and spent several months of the year at home.

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