Abolished Monarchy, Constitutional Monarchy, House of Glucksburg, House of Wittelsbach, King Constantine II of the Hellenes, Kingdom of Greece, Kingdom of the Hellenes, Plebiscite, Restoration
I began this series back on January 19th after the death of Constantine II the last King of the Hellenes. I knew the Greek Kingdom had a tumultuous history and I wanted to a survey of the reign of each King. I knew the monarchy was unstable so it was fascinating to see just how unstable the monarchy was.
Here is a list of each monarch and how each reign ended.
Otto – deposed
George I – assassinated
Constantine I (first reign) – deposed
Alexander – died tragically young
Constantine I (second reign) – abdicated
George II (first reign) – deposed
A referendum on becoming a republic was held in Greece on April 13, 1924. It followed the catastrophic outcome of the Asia Minor Campaign. On March 1924 the Second Hellenic Republic was proclaimed by Parliament.
On November 3, 1935, almost 98% of the reported votes supported restoration of the monarchy with a rigged plebiscite.
George II (second reign) – fled German invasion
German Occupation; George II led government in exile
George II (third reign) – died on throne
Paul – died on throne
Constantine II – exiled and deposed
Junta – overthrown, democracy restored
It is difficult to conceive that the Greek monarchy will ever be restored. Most Greeks consider both the reign of the sole King from the House of Wittelsbach and the reigns of the Kings from the House of Glücksburg as foreign rulers and non-Greek aliens imposed on them by foreign powers. This is an accurate view. With it’s perception of being a foreign dynasty the monarchy never established the firm cultural roots within the Greek nation.
As I reviewed the reigns of each King, one issue of the Greek monarchy is readily apparent; none of the kings of the Hellenes ever behaved as a constitutional monarch and held too much political power and influence. Personally, I believe that the role of the monarch as a symbol of national unity they need to remain politically neutral. One of main reasons most of the surviving European monarchies are still with us is due to the ability of it’s monarchs to remain neutral and to be above partisan politics. The Greek monarchy is a prime example of what happens when that political neutrality is not adhered to.
One of the sad issues with the failure of the Greek monarchy, especially with the collapse of the reign of King Constantine II, is that he was a good, kindly family man who loved Greece and desired a peaceful reign with all Greek citizens living peacefully amongst one another. This makes his record as a monarch was an unfortunate one. .
I believe that King Constantine II did have good intentions. He desired to keep his throne and to avoid Greece becoming a military dictatorship. Sadly, his actions when he acted unconstitutionally did destabilize the country, helping pave the way for the Colonel’s Coup which he then legitimated. However good a man King Constantine II may have been (and I believe he was a good man), he is forever associated by Greeks with not only the mistakes he made but also with a dark time in their history to which no one wants to return.
I am not only an historian, I am also a Monarchist. I firmly believe in and support the principals and concepts of a Constitutional Monarchy. My desire and dream, no matter how unrealistic, is to see the restoration of all deposed and extinct monarchies.
However, the Greek monarchy is an exception. History has shown that a monarchy and the Nation of Greece, are incompatible. I believe Greece is best served by being a Republic.