Join us Sunday, March 5, 2023 at 2 P.M. New York EST/ 9 P.M. Athens EEST for EMBCA’s “The Legacy of Former King Constantine II of Greece” Webinar Panel Discussion. The panel discussion will be introduced and moderated by Lou Katsos and Marina A. Belessis Casoria, EMBCA’s President and EVP respectively. Our distinguished panel, in formation, will include Author/ Investigative Journalist Nicholas Gage; Educator/ Community Leader, Peter Stavrianidis, PHD; Journalist/Author Spiridoula Irida Spanea; Journalist/Public Relations Consultant Dimitrios Filios; and Author/Poet Nicholas Alexiou, Professor of Sociology, and Director of the American Hellenic Project (HAP).
Former King Constantine II (June 2, 1940- January 10, 2023) was the last King of the Hellenes (his formal/official title) and reigned from March 6, 1964, until the abolition of the Hellenic monarchy on June 1, 1973. Born in Athens he was the only son of King Paul of Greece and his Queen Consort, the former Princess Frederica of Hanover. Part of his childhood was spent in Africa during World War II, following the German invasion and occupation of Hellas. Following the return of the Hellenic royal family to Hellas after the end of World War II, his father succeeded to the throne in 1947 upon the death of his childless elder brother King George II ,with Constantine becoming Crown Prince. Constantine won an Olympic gold medal in sailing in 1960 and in 1963 became a member of the International Olympic Committee, serving until his resignation in 1974, after which he was made an honorary member. He succeeded to the throne following the death of his father in 1964 and several months later married Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark, with whom he had five children. His ascension to the Hellenic throne was at a time, although years later, when Hellas in some ways was still feeling the effects of the Civil War and with society strongly split between the royalist -conservative right and the liberal-socialist left. The ongoing and subsequent political instability leading to turmoil and violent social protests worsened in 1965. Although due to his youth he was perceived as an agent of positive change by some his reign was marred by this political turmoil which eventually spiraled into the “Colonels Coup D’etat” of April 21, 1967, who used the fear of a “communist danger”, and led to the Hellenic Dictatorship of 1967- 1974. Some historians, denied by others, suspected that Constantine and his mother Frederica were interested in a coup d’etat , along with the U.S. , even though King Constantine II attempted a counter coup from Kavala in December 13, 1967 which led to his forced exile fleeing to Rome and later London after a brief turbulent reign. He remained in exile through the rest of the Hellenic Dictatorship and he technically was the King until the Hellenic monarchy was abolished by vote on June 1, 1973. Following the abolition of the monarchy, he and his family removed to the United Kingdom and resided in Hampstead Garden Suburb, London. A Hellenic law passed under Prime Minister Andreas Papandreau in 1994 stripped him of his Hellenic citizenship, passport and property forcing him to travel in and out of Hellas on a Danish passport.
It is a timeless tale of Diaspora Hellenes, just as Odysseus in the Odyssey, to return home , the land and place of one’s birth, and former King Constantine II was not different. The former king and his wife returned to the Hellenic Republic in 2013 and he resided there for the remainder of his life. Former King Constantine II was last King of the Hellenes which started with King Otto in 1832 with the establishment of the Hellenic monarchy. From that period of the seven Hellenic monarchs three were deposed , one assassinated, two abdicated and one died after being bitten by a monkey in the royal gardens.
Former King Constantine II died on January 10, 2023 at age 82. By the decision of the Hellenic government he was not given a state funeral. After a private funeral officiated by Archbishop Ieronymos the head of the Orthodox Church of Hellas on January 16, 2023, and a moving tribute by his son former Crown Prince Pavlos, he was buried in Tatoi, the summer palace of the former Hellenic Royal family, next to his parents. Ultimately, the story of a person's life reflects the individual's legacy and what this panel discussion will explore.
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