Exiled Constantine set to return to Greece after 46 years

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 December, 2013, 10:01pm
UPDATED : Monday, 16 December, 2013, 10:03pm


Greeks who have the means may be leaving their country in droves, but after 46 years in exile the former king, Constantine II, has moved back to his crisis-plagued homeland.

The deposed monarch, who was forced to flee Athens shortly after the seizure of power by a group of army officers in 1967, has stunned Greeks, and most of his relatives in the royal households of Europe, by resettling in the capital where he was born.

"He and Anne-Marie have decided to move here permanently," said a member of Greece's small circle of royalists, referring to Constantine's Danish wife.

Soaring property prices in London apparently spurred the move, but Constantine, who was dethroned by referendum on the return of democracy in 1974 and stripped of his Greek citizenship by the then socialist government 20 years later, is known to have been homesick.

A first cousin of Britain's Duke of Edinburgh and Prince William's godfather, Constantine, 76, had his palaces and other royal estates expropriated in 1994. The European court of human rights ruled that the Greek state compensate Constantine for a fraction of the £320 million (HK$4.04 billion) he had sought.

Earlier this year, however, Constantine sold his north London mansion, his home for the past 30 years, for £9.5 million. By contrast, property prices in Athens have plummeted to the point where real estate can be snapped up at bargain rates. Studio flats are selling for as little as £5,000 in the city centre.

The former monarch has repeatedly denied having political ambitions.