King Constantine II of Greece passed away on Tuesday according to a report by The Associated Press. Constantine was the king of Greece until that country abolished its monarchy, making him the last in that line of rulers. He was also the godfather of Prince William, the current heir to the British monarchy.
King Constantine II was 82 years old when he passed away at Hygeia Hospital in Athens, Greece, late on Tuesday. He was reportedly in the intensive care unit (ICU), but they did not disclose his condition or his cause of death. A more thorough announcement is expected sometime soon, but for now royal admirers around the world are sharing their tributes to Constantine online. Many have noted the strange coincidence that Constantine passed away on the day that Prince Harry released his royal tell-all memoir Spare.
Constantine was 23 years old when he acceded to the throne, picking up the mantle at a volatile time in Greek history. The country initially welcomed his coronation, having already become fond of the young man when he won a gold medal for sailing at the Olympics. However, as King Constantine II he became actively involved in the parliamentary politics of the time, which were extremely contentious.
King Constantine II appointed a succession of poorly-received prime ministers in 1964 – his first year on the throne. These appointments led to partisan outrage in the country which manifested as widespread strikes and protests. In 1967, the Greek military carried out a coup, denouncing King Constantine II and seizing control of the government. After a brief resistance, the king fled Greece and sheltered in Rome, Italy for the remainder of this dictatorial rule.
Officially, Constantine remained king until 1973, and he himself saw it that way. However, in 1974 the military regime lost power and the people of Greece organized a new democratic system in its place. The voters decided not to restore their monarchy in any capacity, and Constantine relinquished the title of king. At the time, he also acknowledged his mistakes and remained in exile from Greece for four more decades.
During that time, Constantine and his family lived mostly in England, explaining his connection to Prince William and the rest of the British royal family. He was also a second cousin to King Charles III. Finally, in 2013 he and his family returned to Greece where they lived for the remainder of his life. Constantine is survived by his wife Ann-Marie and their five children.