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GreekReporter.comGreek NewsMemorial Service for Former Greek King Constantine Held in Athens

Memorial Service for Former Greek King Constantine Held in Athens

Former King Greece Constantine
The late ex-king of Greece Constantine II. Credit: AMNA

On Saturday, the memorial service for former Greek King Constantine II was held at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Athens. The ceremony marked the end of the 40-day period of mourning after his death, as per the Greek Orthodox tradition.

The memorial ceremony came just over a month after a grander funeral service was held for the former king of Greece. Many royals from across the world attended the service.

Family gathers for former king Constantine II’s memorial

Among those in attendance were members of his family including Constantine’s widow, Anne-Marie and their children.

Former Princess Sofia of Spain, the wife of former King Juan Carlos, was also present at the memorial service. Sofia is the first child of King Paul of Greece and Frederica of Hanover.  Constantine II was her brother.

The memorial service was held at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens. It took place 40 days after Constantine was laid to rest at the former royal residence of Tatoi, north of Athens in January. A private service officiated by Archbishop Ieronymos, head of the Orthodox Church of Greece preceded Constantine’s burial that day, with almost 200 guests attending.

Life and reign

Constantine was born on June 2, 1940, in a suburb of Athens. He was the second child and only legitimate son of Prince Paul, the heir presumptive of Greece. His mother, Princess Frederica, was a German aristocrat and princess of Hannover.

Constantine was sent to a boarding school in his younger years and then attended Victoria College of Alexandria, Egypt, where he crossed paths with fellow royalty, King Hussein of Jordan. Actor Omar Sharif was another one of his classmates.

The young crown prince served in all three branches of the Greek military and attended each of their academies. This also gave him the opportunity to attend the NATO Air Force Special Weapons School in Germany.

On March 6, 1964, King Paul died of cancer, and Constantine inherited the throne. He was just twenty-three at the time. He had already been appointed regent prior to this due to his father’s worsening health

The new king inherited a precarious political position in Greece. The country was still shaken by the civil war which lasted from 1944 to 1949. Greek society remained polarized between the conservative and royalist right versus the liberal and socialist left.

On April 21, 1967, a group of middle-ranking army officers led by Colonel George Papadopoulos took advantage of the political turmoil destabilizing Greece and successfully took control of the government during a coup.

Ultimately, the political instability in Greece proved fatal for the Greek royal family who were essentially exiled. Although Constantine officially remained king until 1973, he never returned to Greece as the reigning monarch.

In July 1973 the Greek military junta called a referendum, which abolished the monarchy for the second time in Greek history. Then in 1974, the democratically elected prime minister, Konstantinos Karamanlis, called a referendum which legitimately confirmed the abolition.

Constantine spent most of the remainder of his life in London. He was a close friend of King Charles III and became the godfather of Prince William.

With his wife Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark, whom he married in 1964, he had five children.

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