Thousands Turn Out To Bid Farewell To Greece’s Former King

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — As a crowd of 1000’s chanted “Long live the king” and “Constantine, Constantine,” the casket carrying the previous and final monarch of Greece emerged from Athens’ metropolitan cathedral Monday after a funeral service attended by royalty from throughout Europe.

Constantine’s spouse, Anne-Marie, the sister of Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II, and his eldest son, Pavlos, adopted on the head of the funeral procession. The casket, draped with the Greek flag, was loaded right into a hearse for the journey to Tatoi, a former royal property north of Athens the place Constantine was to be buried close to his dad and mom and ancestors.

As soon as a richly forested web site common with Athenians for picnics and nature walks, Tatoi was ravaged by a wildfire about two years in the past and had remained largely blackened and derelict ever since. Cleanup crews labored feverishly since Constantine’s loss of life final week at age 82 to scrub up the positioning in time for Monday’s funeral.

A referendum definitively abolished Greece’s monarchy in 1974. Constantine, a controversial determine throughout a turbulent time in Greek historical past, spent many years in exile earlier than returning to settle in his residence nation in his waning years.

“By the grace of God, you drew your last breath in our country, which you always loved above all else throughout your life,” Pavlos stated in a eulogy to his father. Constantine’s youngsters and grandchildren, Pavlos stated, “are ready, as you had always been, to offer Greece whatever the country asks of us.”

European royals, many intently associated to Constantine, descended on Athens for the funeral, together with Margrethe and the Spanish royal household. Constantine’s sister Sophia is the mom of Spain’s King Felipe VI and the spouse of former King Juan Carlos I.

Constantine was one of many godparents of Prince William, inheritor to the British throne. William’s aunt, Princess Anne, represented the British royal household in Athens.

Britain’s Princess Anne waves as she leaves the Metropolitan Cathedral through the funeral of former king of Greece Constantine II in Athens.

AP Picture/Petros Giannakouris

Juan Carlos, strolling with assistance from a strolling stick, attended with Sophia at his aspect. It was a uncommon public look for the previous king, who has lived in Abu Dhabi since being minimize off from the Spanish royal household in 2020 amid monetary scandals.

The Greek authorities had introduced Constantine can be buried as a non-public citizen with out honors reserved for former heads of state. A restricted mendacity in state was allowed from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m in a chapel subsequent to the cathedral.

Thousands of individuals turned out, some touring from throughout Greece and lining up for hours within the predawn darkness and winter chill.

“He was a constitutional leader of the country. It was a monarchy then, so we must honor this man who stayed in Greece for so many years and who is Greek,” Athens resident Georgia Florenti stated whereas ready to pay her respects to the previous monarch.

Some mourners expressed disappointment that Constantine was being buried with out the honors awarded to former heads of state.

“I feel anger because I consider it petty for funerals to be held at public expense for actors and singers, and for us not to honor a person who, for better or for worse, was king of Greece,” stated Irene Zagana.

Constantine acceded to the throne in 1964 at age 23, already an Olympic crusing gold medalist. The younger king and his spouse loved big reputation, which shortly eroded due to Constantine’s lively involvement within the machinations that introduced down the elected authorities of then-Prime Minister George Papandreou.

“There was social adoration for the young king. Any dislikes there were concerned his mother,” Thanassis Diamantopoulos, a political science professor at Athens’ Panteion College, stated. “He himself was beloved, but unfortunately, through the mindless and thoughtless management of the 1965 crisis, he managed to squander this sympathy very quickly.”

The episode involving the defection from the ruling get together of a number of lawmakers destabilized the constitutional order and led to a navy coup in 1967. Constantine ultimately clashed with the navy rulers and was pressured into exile.

When the dictatorship collapsed in July 1974, Constantine was wanting to return to Greece, however was suggested in opposition to it by veteran politician Constantine Karamanlis, who returned from exile to go a civilian authorities.

After profitable a November election that yr, Karamanlis referred to as for a plebiscite on the monarchy. Constantine wasn’t allowed to return to marketing campaign, however the consequence was extensively accepted: 69.2% voted in favor of a republic.

Constantine “should be given credit for something that other deposed monarchs have not done: he never threatened, challenged or undermined the state not headed by a king after he was dethroned,” Diamantopoulos stated. “He accepted the 1974 referendum. He did not create a party of monarchy nostalgics. … Thus, with his silence, he contributed to cementing the new system of government.”

There have been no opinion polls measuring attainable assist for the previous king for the reason that monarchy was abolished. Public discourse in Greece tends to be considerably unfavourable regarding the monarchy.

The variety of individuals ready patiently for hours in Athens to pay their ultimate respects advised Constantine was nonetheless a lot cherished by a phase of society.

“He is a former high-level official to whom we should certainly show the necessary honors, a person who is serious, who is noble, who is decent,” stated lawyer Giannis Katsiavos, who was among the many crowd. “We will remember him forever.”

Raphael Kominis contributed to this report.