rulers from across Europe at the funeral of former King Constantine

This Monday, January 16, in the Cathedral of the Annunciation in Athens, the crowned heads of the old continent will pay homage to the deposed king who died last Tuesday.

Sovereigns from all over Europe are due to attend Monday, January 16 at midday at Athens at the funeral of the last king of Greece Constantin II, died on Tuesday at the age of 82but no national tribute will be paid to this contested former monarch.

In the Cathedral of the Annunciation in Athens, the kings and queens of Spain, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Prince Albert II of Monacothe Norwegian Crown Prince, the Grand Duke of Luxembourg will pay a last tribute to the former Greek sovereign.

Spanish and British royal families

The British royal family will be represented by Princess Anne, sister of Charles III, both cousins ​​of Constantine II, Buckingham Palace said on Friday. The Greek media wondered this weekend about the possible presence of Prince William, godson of the former King of Greece, but without obtaining confirmation or denial.

The former Queen of Spain, Sophie, sister of Constantine, and her husband Juan Carlos will also be present in the Greek capital. In the early hours of the day, hundreds of people lined up in front of the cathedral to come and pray in front of the coffin of the deceased, covered for the occasion with a large piece of fabric in the national colors, blue and white. .

Funeral directors transport the coffin covered in the colors of the Greek flag to the Saint Eleftherios chapel, in Athens, on January 16, 2023. Angelos Tzortzinis / AFP

Between indifference and anger

The coffin will be on display until 10 a.m. local (8 a.m. Paris) in a chapel near the cathedral for this tribute while the surrounding streets have been closed to traffic, promising traffic jams in the city center of the Greek capital. A total of 187 guests are expected to attend this funeral.

Deeply republican, the vast majority of the population hesitated between indifference and anger since this descendant of the royal family of Schleswig-Holstein-Glücksburg died Tuesday in a private hospital in Athens following a stroke.

A man holds a picture of former Greek King Constantine II in the queue to pay respects to former Greek King Constantine II at the Saint Eleftherios Chapel, Athens, January 16, 2023. ANGELOS TZORTZINIS / AFP
People wait to pay their respects to former Greek King Constantine II at the Saint Eleftherios Chapel in Athens on January 16, 2023. Angelos Tzortzinis / AFP

Prime Minister and Head of State absent

Following Constantine’s death, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced that the funeral would be private. Neither he nor the current Head of State Katerina Sakellaropoulou will go to the funeral of a deposed king in 1974 during the restoration of the Republic, after the dark period of the dictatorship of the colonels (1967-1974) .

In Athens, only the flags around the Panathenaic Stadium, the ancient stadium in the Greek capital renovated for the first modern Olympics in 1896, were lowered. In 1960, Constantin won a gold medal in sailing at the Olympic Games in Rome. He was also an honorary member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

A picture of Greece’s former King Constantine II and his wife Anne-Marie hangs from the national flag in the queue to pay their respects at the Saint Eleftherios Chapel, in Athens, January 16, 2023. Angelos Tzortzinis / AFP

old wounds

After the Orthodox religious ceremony, he will be buried privately at the former royal residence in Tatoi, north of Athens, where most of the former members of the royal family are buried, including King George Ierthe first of the Danish dynasty ascended to the throne of Greece in 1863. The death of the ex-monarch, who lived some forty years in exile, rekindled old wounds in Greece, particularly around his role during the dictatorship of the colonels (1967-1974).

Criticized for not having prevented the accession to power of the junta, Constantin had left Greece in 1968 and lived forty years in London, before returning to his country in 2013, continuing to call himself “king“. The monarchy in Greece was abolished by referendum in 1974 which, with a 70% majority, officially deposed Constantine II.

Constantin Glücksburg, as some media call him without mentioning his former royal title, has long battled in court with the Greek state which had confiscated royal property. Stripped of his nationality in 1994, he lodged a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights to recover his property. In 2002, the latter condemned Greece to pay 14 million euros to the royal family.

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