Anne-Marie of Denmark, Frederica of Hanover, Frederik IX of Denmark, Greek Civil War, King Constantine II of the Hellenes, King Paul I of the Hellenes, Military Junta, Queen of the Hellenes
On April 1, 1947, George II died and Frederica’s husband ascended the throne as Paul I, with Frederica as Queen Consort p. A Communist insurgency in Northern Greece led to the Greek Civil War. The King and Queen toured Northern Greece under tight security to appeal for loyalty in the summer of 1947.
Queen Frederica was constantly attacked for her German ancestry. Left-wing politicians in Greece repeatedly used the fact that the German Emperor Wilhelm II was her grandfather, and that she had brothers who were members of the SS, as propaganda against her.
She was also criticized variously as “very Prussian” and “was a Nazi”. When she was in London representing her sick husband at the wedding of his first cousin Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark to King George VI’s elder daughter Princess Elizabeth in November 1947, Winston Churchill remarked on German Emperor Wilhelm II being her grandfather.
Queen Frederica had replied acknowledging the fact, but reminding him that she was also descended from Queen Victoria, and that her father would be the British king if the country had operated under the Salic Law (allowing only males to inherit the crown).
During the civil war, Queen Frederica set the Queen’s Camps or Child Cities a network of 53 camps around Greece where she would rescue children of members of DSE and former partisans.
The role of these Queen’s Camps is disputed as a means of propaganda by the monarchy through the educational program. There were allegations, generally by opposition or communist sources, which held that children were illegally adopted by American families while they were in the Queen’s Camps. Children were most likely provided with education and care.
The Greek Civil War ended in August 1949. The Sovereigns took this opportunity to strengthen the monarchy, they paid official visits to Marshal Josip Broz Tito in Belgrade, Presidents Luigi Einaudi of Italy in Rome, Theodor Heuss of West Germany, and Bechara El Khoury of Lebanon, Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia, Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari of India, King George VI of the United Kingdom, and the United States as guest of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
However, at home in Greece and abroad in the United Kingdom, Queen Frederica was targeted by the opposition, because as a girl she had belonged to the Bund Deutscher Mädel (League of German Girls), a branch of the Hitler Youth group for young women; her supporters argued that evading membership in the group would be difficult under the existing political climate in Nazi Germany at the time.
Her November 16, 1953 appearance in Life as America’s guest was taken on one of the many state visits she paid around the world. Also that year she appeared on the cover of Time. On May 14, 1962 her eldest daughter Sofia married Prince Juan Carlos of Spain, (later King Juan Carlos I of Spain) in Athens.
Frederica has been described as “inherently undemocratic”. She was notorious for her numerous arbitrary and unconstitutional interventions in Greek politics and clashes with democratically elected governments.
She actively politicked against the election of Alexander Papagos. At home in Greece and abroad in the United Kingdom, she was targeted by the opposition. In 1963 while visiting London, rioting by Greek leftists demonstrating against the situation with the political prisoners of the Greek civil war, forced her to temporarily seek refuge in a stranger’s house. Her interference in politics was harshly criticized and possibly was a significant factor in the strengthening of republican sentiments.
On March 6, 1964, King Paul died of cancer. When her son, now King Constantine II of the Hellenes, married Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark, daughter of King Frederik IX of Denmark and Princess Ingrid of Sweden, later that year on September 18, Queen Frederica stepped back from the majority of her public duties in favor of her daughter-in-law. She remained a figure of controversy and was accused in the press of being the éminence grise behind the throne.
She retired to the countryside where she lived an almost reclusive life. However, she continued to attend Royal events that were family-oriented, such as the baptisms of her grandchildren in both Spain and Greece.
King Constantine II’s clashes with the democratically elected Prime Minister George Papandreou Sr. were blamed by critics for causing the destabilisation that led to a military coup on April 21, 1967 and the rise of the regime of the colonels.
Faced with a difficult situation, King Constantine initially collaborated with the military dictatorship, swearing in their government under a royalist prime minister. Later that year he attempted a counter-coup in an attempt to restore democracy, whose failure forced him into exile. Following this, the junta appointed a regent to carry out the tasks of the exiled monarch.
In 1971, Frederica published an autobiography, A Measure of Understanding.
On June 1, 1973 the junta abolished the Greek Monarchy without the consent of the Greek people and then attempted to legitimize its actions through a 1973 plebiscite that was widely suspected of being rigged. The new head-of-state became President of Greece George Papadopoulos.
The dictatorship ended on July 24, 1974 and the pre-junta constitutional monarchy was never restored. A plebiscite was held on December 8, 1974 in which Constantine (who was able to campaign only from outside the country) freely admitted his past errors, promised to support democracy, and in particular, promised to keep his mother Frederica away from Greece and out of Greek politics. However, 69% of Greeks voted to make Greece a democratic republic.
Frederica died on February 6, 1981 in exile in Madrid of heart failure, reportedly following eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty), although a biographer has claimed the surgery was cataract removal.
She was interred at Tatoi (the Royal family’s palace and burial ground in Greece). Her son and his family were allowed to attend the service but had to leave immediately afterwards.