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GreekReporter.comGreek NewsQueen Camilla Leads Memorial Service for Ex-King of Greece Constantine

Queen Camilla Leads Memorial Service for Ex-King of Greece Constantine

Constantine Greece
Former king Constantine died in January 2023. Credit: AMNA

Queen Camilla took the reins as head of the British Royal family as she led a memorial service for the ex-King Constantine of Greece at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.

King Charles III missed the service as his treatment for cancer continues, while Prince William had been due to give a reading but pulled out for “personal reasons.”

Camilla and other family members were joined by the late ex-king’s widow Queen Anne-Marie, their eldest son, Prince Pavlos and other members of the deposed Greek royal family for the service in the nave of the 15th-century chapel.

Prince Andrew was present along with Sarah, Duchess of York and his daughters Princess Eugenie and Beatrice because it was deemed a personal family event.

The service was held in honor of the King’s close friend and second cousin Constantine II, the former ruler and last king of Greece.

The King has reportedly sought spiritual advice from his friend Archimandrite Ephraim, Abbot of the Greek Orthodox Vatopedi monastery on Mount Athos.

Abbot Ephraim is said to have told Greek media outlets: “Yes, he has been in contact since the diagnosis and I believe he’ll overcome it. Charles has a spiritual sophistication, a spiritual life.”

In January a memorial service was held at the former royal residence of Tatoi, north of Athens, for the former King of Greece.

His children, grandchildren and his wife Anna Maria attended the service of the former King who passed away at the age of 83. Some supporters of the monarchy, which was abolished by a referendum in 1974, were also in attendance.

Constantine was a first cousin once removed and sailing partner of the late Duke of Edinburgh, and died at the age of 82 in January last year, decades after being toppled from the throne in a military coup.

The King had a close friendship with Constantine, choosing him as a godfather for his son William, now the Prince of Wales.

Life and reign of Constantine in Greece and abroad

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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