Belgian Royal Family to travel to Greece for funeral of Constantine II

Belgian Royal Family to travel to Greece for funeral of Constantine II
Queen Mathilde and King Philippe of Belgium pictured during a visit to the Center for Physical Sciences and Technology during the official state visit of the Belgian Royal Couple to the Republic of Lithuania, Tuesday 25 October 2022, in Vilnius. Credit: Belga/Philip Reynaers

Belgian King Phillippe and Queen Mathilde will attend the funeral of the last King of Greece, Constantine II, who died on 10 January at 82 years old, the Royal Palace has confirmed. Greece, now a Republic, will not hold a state funeral for the former monarch.

The Kings and Queens of Belgium, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands, as well as Prince Albert II of Monaco, Norwegian Crown Prince Harald V, and Grand Duke of Luxembourg Henri will pay their respects to the deceased former monarch at the Cathedral of the Annunciation in Athens.

The British Royal Family will be represented at the event by Princess Anne, sister of current British King Charles III, Buckingham Palace confirmed on Friday. Both King Charles and Princess Anne are cousins of the deceased Constantine II.

Former Queen of Spain, Sofía, sister of Constantine II, as well as her husband Juan Carlos, will also be present at the Greek capital.

In the early hours of Monday, hundreds of well-wishers and supporters of the Greek Monarchy lined up in front of the cathedral to pay their respects in front of the coffin of Constantine II. His casket has been adorned with a large piece of fabric, sporting the national colours of Greece – blue and white.

The coffin remained on display until 10:00 on Monday in the chapel near the cathedral. Surrounding streets were closed to traffic, causing traffic in the city centre. In total, 187 guests are expected to attend the funeral.

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In a referendum organised by the Greek military dictatorship in 1973, nearly 70% of Greeks voted for the abolition of the monarchy. At one point, Constantine II enjoyed great public support among Greeks. Rising to the throne at the age of 23 in 1964, Constantine II was an Olympic gold medallist in sailing and a rising national figure.

However, in 1974, he was accused by many Greeks of wading into politics and playing a role in the dissolution of Greek democracy in 1967. Constantine himself later clashed with the military junta and was forced into exile. The monarch returned to Greece 14 years later to bury his mother.

As of 2008, an opinion poll found that fewer than 12% of Greeks favoured a return to a constitutional monarchy and over 43% blamed him for the military dictatorship.

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