The Cradle of Democracy Greece was a Constitutional Monarchy with King Constantin II who reigned for more than 10 years before being toppled by a Military Junta on April 21st 1967. The Coup inspired Costa Gavras’ Z. It should be noted that Constantin’s elder Sister married future King Juan Carlos of Spain who was restored as King of Spain after General Franco’s death in 1976. Constantin was also close to Iran’s Royal Family and befriended the Shah and Shahbanou of Iran during his own years of exile when he visited Iran regularly. His Loyalty was also expressed to the Shah of Iran during the latter Persian King’s fall from power and was amongst the Rare foreign diginitaries who was present at the Shah’s funeral in Cairo in 1980.
Constantin’s failure in countering the Military Junta and his hesitations in fostering a successful counter Coup harmed his image in public opinion and the political class who initially supported the monarchy never quite forgave him.
The Monarchy was abolished by the Junta and led the King to Exile never to return as King but simply Greek Citizen after the fall of the Military Junta and the establishment of a Secular Republic after a national plebiscite on 8 December 1974.
Below are interesting documentaries by Al Jazeera English and History Channel as well as CNN about the Last Greek Monarch.
Richard Quest – HM King Constantine II of Greece
Al Jazeera Documentary: A King Without A Country, a rare look into the turbulent life of Constantine, the former king of Greece:
Trailer of Costa Gavras’s Z Starring Yves Montand and Jean Louis Trintignant in the Title Roles
Scenes from the Movie Z and the Famous Music Score by Mikis Theodorakis:
Royal House of Greece( Hisotry Channel):
Frost over the World – Civil unrest in Greece – 12 Dec 08
Costa Gavras, talks to WNYC’s Leonard Lopate about making the film and how it became a critically acclaimed, worldwide smash and the winner of both the Cannes Jury Prize and the Best Foreign Film Oscar, along with fifty other international awards.
About Constantin II:
Constantine II (born 2 June 1940) was King of the Hellenes from 1964 until the abolition of the monarchy in 1973. The sixth and last monarch of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, he is usually referred to in Greece as ο τέως βασιλιάς (“the former king”), or with the pejorative terms ο Τέως (“the Former”) or o Γκλύξμπουργκ (“Glücksburg”). As a male-line descendant of Christian IX of Denmark he retains his title as Prince of Denmark, although constitutional changes removed the Greek cadet branch from the line of Danish succession. He is referred by some of his supporters as Constantine XIII, originating in the perception that the Greek crown is the successor to that of the Byzantine Empire and as such the Greek kings should be numbered as successors to the Roman emperors.
He succeeded his father Paul in March 1964, being styled Constantine II, King of the Hellenes (). Although the accession of the young monarch was initially regarded auspiciously, his reign soon became controversial: Constantine’s involvement in the Apostasia of July 1965 made him unpopular in broad parts of the population and aggravated the ongoing political instability that culminated in the Colonels’ Coup of 21 April 1967. The coup stood on scant legitimate ground until Constantine, as head of state, agreed to swear-in the putschist government, thereby legitimizing it; this act became the subject of much criticism. On 13 December 1967, he was forced to flee the country following an abortive counter-coup against the junta, although he remained de jure head of state until 1 June 1973, when the junta abolished the monarchy and declared a republic. This abolition was confirmed after the fall of the junta by a plebiscite on 8 December 1974, which established the Third Hellenic Republic.
Constantine has never officially abdicated his throne. He has continued to live abroad since 1967, but enters and leaves his native country freely and has a house on the coastal resort of Saronida, outside Athens. More Here
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