We take a closer look at the life of Constantine II of Greece and how he became the last king of Greece.
Constantine II is the last reigning monarch of Greece. He was King of Greece from 1964 to 1974 until the abolition of the monarchy. During that period, he held the title of Konstantinos II, Vasileus ton Ellinon and lived in exile for over 40 years.
Constantine was born on June 2, 1940, at Psychiko, near Athens. He is the son of Frederika of Hanover who was a German princess. He was only a year old when Greece was invaded by the Germans. As a result, he spent the next four years in exile with his family in Egypt. In 1945, he returned to Greece and studied at a preparatory school whereafter he attended the requisite military academies.
Shortly after this, his father became King in 1947 following the death of George II of Greece.
As a young man, Constantine was athletic, handsome, and quite popular with the Greek public. In 1960, he competed in the Summer Olympics in Rome at the age of 20 and won a Gold Dragon Class gold medal in sailing.
Constantine became king at the age of 23 when his father King Paul died of cancer in 1964. He married Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark in the same year. Together the couple has five children.
In June 1973, King Constantine II of Greece was condemned as an enemy of the Greek people by the Greek dictatorial government. The same year in May, a Royal coup was staged by the officers of the majority royalist navy, although it has to be noted that Constantine was not involved in the planning or initiation of the coup. After fighting back the royalist, George Papadopoulos declared a republic as a retaliation. As a result, a referendum was arranged in order to permanently remove the monarchy.
Constantine remained in exile for over 40 years and even though he was not officially exiled nor stripped of his citizenship or property, he was strongly discouraged from returning to the country. In fact, he did not set foot in the country until 1981 and even that was only allowed to enter for his mother’s funeral.
He attempted his first lengthy visit to Greece in 1993, but the government became quite annoyed by his “tour”. The government asked him to leave because of the various loud protests from the opposition.
King Constantine II has had various health issues in recent years, but he recovered considerably in the last few months of 2017. Shortly before this, he suffered a stroke in 2016 but had a quick recovery.
He looked somewhat feeble in his appearance at the 50th birthday celebrations of his nephew Frederik of Denmark in 2018. In the same year, Constantine struggled to walk at his brother-in-law’s funeral and attended the event in a wheelchair.
Constantine II of Greece spent over 40 years living in London with his wife and children. During the financial crash when the wealthy of the country was fleeing and the youth were departing to search for a better life, he finally returned to Greece. He invested heavily in the country and now lives as a commoner but he is still invited to Royal functions under his former regal title and name.