Let’s talk about the Greeks, shall we?

For some it may be surprising, what with the Greek being the inventors of democracy and all, but until 1967 (nominally until 1973) the Greeks were a monarchy and saw themselves as the successors to the Byzantine Empire.

Unlike most modern European monarchies, the last few Greek kings were heavily involved in their country’s politics, which was a good thing before and during WWII, but proved to be somewhat problematic later during the Greek Civil War, as factions started to form (see the section about the evacuation of the children especially). All this was under King Pavlos (Paul, King of the Hellenes; father of the current King of the Hellenes and of Queen Sophia of Spain). The political climate calmed down considerably after the Civil War but got stormier again when King Konstantin II (I’m using the K-spelling intentionally) ascended the throne with 23.

Contrary to the United Kingdom, where Konstantin’s cousin Philip was Prince Consort to the young Queen Elizabeth II, Greece was a country caught between extreme political views – communist, centrist and conservative – and not quite as stable as the UK. One could argue now why that is so but…let’s not go there.

At 23, Konstantin was an inexperienced young man and politician and had inherited a lot of his father’s views and baggage. That’s probably why he managed to cause a constitutional crisis at the tender age of 25, known as the Apostasia of 1965, when he dismissed the newly elected prime minister. Elections were scheduled for May 1967 and Konstantin appointed an interim government.

Only a few weeks before the elections, several right wing generals seized power in a coup d’etat, arresting and killing political rivals. Konstantin, as the head of state – and even though he was inexperienced he should have known better – sanctioned the putchist government and swore them in and had basically lost by then already. He claims he attempted a counter-coup but that did not bear any fruits. Konstantin and his family, Anne Marie of Denmark and their two babies Alexia and Pavlos, had to flee into exile to Rome. They later came to live in London and Konstantin is close to his British and Danish relatives.

Konstantin has made a lot of claims that run contrary to what other people directly involved in the coup have stated and I, personally, am not too sure he’s not simply covering his ass. I wouldn’t blame him, he made a few dire mistakes (some of which could have been avoided), but he also was a victim of the circumstances, at least in part.

The junta government lasted for seven years and the aftermath is what we see today. If you’re interested, the wikipedia article is quite interesting, I spent a good hour yesterday following Greek history from the 1940s until the 70s.

What is further interesting is that despite the monarchy being abolished in 1973, Konstantin never abdicated his throne. He still is Konstantine of Greece and Denmark, King of the Hellenes. Even though he is not allowed to return to the country as king – at present – he is free to enter and leave Greece as he pleases and he and his wife even have a vacation home somewhere on the coast. This leaves several rather interesting openings for future developments.

Restoring him to the throne is one possibility, although with the mistakes that have been made, with his statements and claims, and also considering his age (the man turned 70 this year), that is an unlikely development.

Konstantin and Anna Maria of Greece have five children who are in their forties and in their twenties today, Crown Prince of Greece is Pavlos of Greece and Denmark; should his father die before being restored to the throne he would become the pretender to the (defunct) Greek throne. He is the second option the Greeks would have and for more reasons than just him being the Crown Prince.

Pavlos attended college in London, underwent military training in Sandhurst and later studied at Georgetown University (sharing a flat with Felipe, Prince of Asturias and I don’t think we want to know what went on there), graduating in International Relations Law and Organization then later achieved a Master of Science in Foreign service, specializing in Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

Besides being more than on par with the political situation back home and in the surrounding countries, Pavlos seems to have a keen head for business, as he co-founded several investment groups and funds, among other dabbling in hedge funds and alternative investment.

Basically, Pavlos has more qualifications to lead the country of Greece than most, if not all, of the Greek politicians.

As for his personal life, he is married to Marie-Chantal Miller and they have five children, born and raised in the US (and London, where his parents reside today).

Sound advice, dear Greeks, get your Crown Prince on the throne and let him run the show for a few years. You can make a contract, give him more influence for a couple of years and cut back on it then.

For those who care to know: The royal line of Greece belongs to the House Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg (yep, we Germans dabble in all the royal lines ;)), Konstantin is descendant from Christian IX of Denmark both matri- and patrilineal and he retains his rank as a Danish prince even though he is not in line to the Danish throne any longer (a referendum having abolished his claim). Anne-Marie (Anna Maria) was a princess of Denmark before marrying Konstantin. Hence the members of the Greek royal family are always “of Greece and Denmark”.