Last Greek Monarch Dies Aged 82

Former King Constantine II of Greece

Former King Constantine II of Greece, has died at the age of 82.

The former monarch, whose nine-year reign oversaw one of the most volatile periods in the modern Greek history, passed away at a private hospital in Athens on Tuesday night, his doctors reported. 

A stroke claimed the life of Constantine, a cousin of the British king King Charles III. He was sent to a hospital in Athens last week for breathing difficulties, according to Greek media.

When he ascended to the throne as Constantine II in 1964 at the age of 23, the young monarch, who had already won an Olympic gold medal in sailing, was immensely popular.

By the following year, he had lost most of this popularity due to his participation in the plots that brought down the administration of Prime Minister George Papandreou’s Center Union party.

The episode, which is still widely remembered in Greece as the “apostasy” or defection of numerous parliamentarians from the ruling party, destabilized the constitutional order and precipitated the 1967 military coup. Constantine was eventually pushed into exile after clashing with the military leadership.

The dictatorship abolished the monarchy in 1973, and when democracy was restored the following year, approximately 70% of Greeks voted in favor of the monarchy’s abolition in a referendum, bringing an end to the dynasty founded by Constantine’s Danish-born great-grandfather George I in 1830.