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Why are some monarchs sent to exile after a country is declared a republic?

Why are some monarchs sent to exile after a country is declared a republic?

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Personally, I like monarchy. Monarchs are symbols of national unity and rich heritage. Just look at the British monarchy. It is a matter of their pride. And, I also think that countries like France, Italy, Turkey and so on are very unlucky not to have monarchies.

We see in some countries that, when they changed from kingdoms to republics, monarchs were exiled even though they could not do any harm to the republic, when the whole situation was under control and they didn't even commit any crimes.

For example, Mehmed VI of Turkey, Farouk I of Egypt and Umberto II of Italy were exiled.

Why didn't these countries adopt constitutional monarchies so that the monarchs could be granted an honored life?

This is because the forces that overthrew them used to consider the monarchy as an alternative source of power that commanded loyalty of thousands of people. In case of any crisis, the monarch could have the power to overthrow the democratic forces, especially since many in the administration and army (not all of whom can be removed) are expected to remain loyal to the monarch even after constitutional monarchy is declared. Something similar to this was observed in Nepal. In England the parliament gained power only gradually, and so the monarch was generally not a direct threat to the power of the elected representatives.

The examples you gave were either deposed through a revolution, or lost power because the former monarch chose the wrong side and was seen as complicit in leading the nation to ruin. If the populace was upset enough to end royal rule, why would they tolerate a reminder of their unhappy past living lavishly in their midst?

The British monarchy, which you mentioned, is a case where the king gradually lost power through ceding it to Parliament. There was a somewhat amicable transfer of power without lasting bitter feelings among the public and political classes. This facilitated the idea of a 'constitutional monarchy' in which the nation has a sanctioned figurehead who also serves as a reminder of their glorious past, while the actual decisions are made by a democratic caucus.

Some of the reasons to exile ex-rulers (kings, dictators, even PMs out of political favor) are:

  • Prevents them from rebuilding a network of loyalists for a possible counter coup.
  • Prevents discussion on the legitimacy of the incumbents especially when the transfer of power was disputed.
  • Removes an unnecessary drain on the state exchequer.
  • Security considerations, especially if the ruler was greatly disliked in public.
  • They may simply exile themselves out of shame at losing their position or to avoid conflict.

Most absolute rulers, be they Monarchs or dictators, will accept no diminution of their power, so that when the populous approach them with such a suggestion they, the absolute ruler, relinquish some or all of their power,they tend to reject the demands of the populous.

If the feelings of the populous are strong enough then the populous will persist with their demands, and typically, the ruler persists in their rejection, and thus tension in the country builds. That tension often reaches a point where it explodes into outright confrontation, (something of the sort can be seen in countries around the world today), and when this happens the fight then becomes all-or-nothing. That is 1 side becomes the outright winner and the other the loser. If the ruler loses then either the ruler gets executed, as was the case in Romania in the latter half of the last century, or perhaps the ruler is given the chance to flee into exile.

The point is, that by the time conflict erupts within a country the opportunities for a peaceful and negotiated transfer of all or part of the rulers power is generally lost and so monarchies tend not to evolve into parliamentary or democratic monarchies. Of course, this is a generalisation and over simplified, but for the purpose of your question I hope it provides something of a an answer.

PS, as a British national I cannot agree with your statement that Monarchs are symbols of national unity and pride. Even a cursory examination of the history of the 'british' royal family (many of whom throughout history could not even speak english) shows them to have been ruthless in their determination to retain power, and careless towards the sufferings and plaints of the people they governed.

Your question is flawed.

You start saying that you like monarchy, and then you wonder why countries which rejected it exiled the former monarchs.

Quite the opposite: if a country abandoned monarchy, it is most likely because it wasn't very popular, so it is perfectly natural to treat harshly the former rules.

Actually very often exile can be considered a soft punishment, considering the amount of damage they might have done towards their former country.

History of Roman Exile

While Ovid laments the suffering he experienced during his enforced separation from the city he loved so much, ancient Roman law actually adopted the penalty of exile in an effort to avoid excessive capital punishment. In addition, while the death penalty offers little or flexibility, imposing the same final outcome, the possibility of different degrees of exile allowed the state, or ruler, to impose a punishment that more fairly matched the severity of a particular crime. This page delineates the different gradations of exile, and identifies the kind of crimes that each type of exile punished.

What is Exile?

“Exile” deriving from the Latin word exilium, or exsilium, banishment, exile, or the place of exile, or from exul, or exsul, describing the person who is leaving. According to Polybius, a famous Roman historian who documented the Roman Republic, “exilium was a voluntary act through which a citizen could avoid legal penalty by quitting the community.” Nowadays, we define exile as “the state of being barred from one’s native country, typically for political or punitive reasons: a person who lives away from their native country, either from choice or compulsion.” As the definition makes clear, victims of exile are forced out of their patria to live in another place for a certain period of time. However, as Polybius reveals, a person could choose to avoid a worse punishment. Thus it was seen as an alternative to capital or pecuniary punishment.

Degrees of Exile

Ovid in Exile, by Romanian painter Ion Theodorescu-Sion, 1915.

Although the English language often uses banishment and exile interchangeably, the two word words have distinctive meanings, one voluntary, and the other imposed. Exile can be broken into two branches, and banishment. The fuga was considered the more voluntary option of exile.Banishment, on the other hand, is exile by forced removal. Furthermore, banishment can be broken down into three levels of severity , , and . The severity of the punishment is measured by the duration, location, and rights associated with each of the three tiers.

The mildest form of banishment is called the relegatio. The relegatio is removal (of undesirable foreigners) from Rome or a Roman province by magisterial decree for a specified amount of time or for life. A person subject to relegatio is ordered to leave Rome by a certain date however they are not sent to a designated location or do not lose any of their civil rights.

Aquae et Ignis Interdictio

The great general Camillus returned from exile to save Rome from the Gauls in 387BCE.

Literally meaning ‘debarred from fire and water”, the second tier was similar to the first in the sense that the exsul had no permanent place of residency. However, aquae et ignis interdictio differed in terms of duration and rights. The victim lost the civil rights that came with Roman citizenship and their property was confiscated. The dersignation aquae et ignis interdictio occasionally was applied to unique cases of voluntary exile, or self-banishment. Despite voluntary departure, the person was stripped of rights and property.

Deportatio was the most extreme case of banishment. It required forcible removal to a fixed place, most commonly an island in the Mediterranean, usually for life. The English word deportation means “to expel (a foreigner) from a country, typically on the grounds of illegal status or for having committed a crime.” Deportation is a common practice among countries today, and the American government deports hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants every year.

Exile as an Alternative to Imprisonment, Death, and Dishonor

Polybius’ remarks that exile was often used an alternative to potentially harsher punishments concur with those of the great orator and statesman, M. Tullius Cicero. Unaware that he would one day be exiled by Julius Caesar, Cicero documented the experiences of many exiles, including a man named Albucius. After serving as a Roman praetor, Albucius was convicted of . a crime punishable with banishment. Banished for his crime, Albucius thrived in exile, free from the pressures to achieve professional success, and pursued his interest in philosophy. In this comments, Cicero comments that

“exile is not a punishment: it is a harbor of refuge from punishment.” He goes on to explain that those who avail themselves of exilium ‘“quit their native soil,’ that is to say, they change the place of their abode . . . people seeking to avoid imprisonment, death, or dishonor . . . take refuge in exile as in a sanctuary . . . and therefore citizenship is not taken from them, but is by them abandoned and discarded. For no one under our law can be a citizen of two states” .

Victims of Exile

A tense contest for power defined much of the republican period. Anything that could have threatened the republican way of life was often effectively diminished or silenced. Similarly, public immorality was not tolerated. Jews, philosophers, magicians, dancers, actors, poets, and astrologers were often exiled because their work was seen as questioning and threatening to the dominant ideologies of the time. Most, if not all, the victims were men. It is important to note that although exile had a varying impact depending on the severity of its terms, the overall effects were relatively lenient. For example, rather than being taken to a particular destination, many exiles were given a mandate to remain a certain distance outside of Rome. Furthermore, it was common that wealthy exiles traveled with a small entourage comprised of slaves and freedmen. In preparation, many an tried to liquidate his material assets to make transportation easier. No matter where the place of banishment or what connections the exiles might have there, access to necessities and money was vital.

Cicero, 1st century BCE, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

A case study of Cicero’s banishment gives us a detailed look in the life of an exile because his writings document his life so well. Although he had forged numerous political alliances, and earned the gratitude of many powerful figures who had relied on his oratorical skills, Cicero was not able to avoid exile himself. As consul, Cicero had urged the decision to execute captured conspirators without trial, a violation of the law. For this reason, he himself had to leave Rome in 58 B.C. and go into exile temporarily. During his exile, Cicero traveled almost constantly, making stops in places like Epirus, Thessalonica, Dyrrachium, Brundisium, and Cyzicus. He wrote many letters to contacts back in Rome, including his friend and colleague Atticus as well as his wife, Terentia. In one of the letters to his wife, who remained back in Rome with their daughter Tullia and son Marcus, Cicero voiced the following concerns:

o me perditum, o me adflictum! … rogem te ut venias, mulierem aegram, et corpore et animo confectam? … sine te igitur sim? opinor, sic agam: si est spes nostri reditus, eam confirmes et rem adiuves sin, ut ego metuo, trasactum est, quoquo modo potes, ad me fac venias. unum hoc scito: si te habebo, non mihi videbor plane perisse (Cic. Fam. 14.4.3).

Oh, how I am ruined and shattered! … Should I ask you to come, a sick woman exhausted in both body and mind? … Am I therefore to be without you? I suppose I should express it thus: if there is hope of my recall from exile, you ought to strengthen it and advance my cause but if matters have run their course, as I fear, come to me by any means you are able. Know this one thing: if I have you, I will not consider myself as totally ruined.

Cicero was exiled for his illegal politico-judicial decision whereas Ovid was allegedly exiled, in part, because of the perceived immorality in his work the Ars Amatoria. The terms of their exile differed, too. Cicero fled voluntarily during his trial, as was common practice, and was sentenced to aquae et ignis interdictio within four hundred miles of the city. He was stripped of his property, and declared a public enemy. Ovid in all likelihood retained his property however, he did not go voluntarily but was banished by Augustus in 8 A.D.

Neapolis was one of the many refuges for Roman exiles. Unless banished to a particular place, exiles were usually ‘free’ to travel as they pleased.

The location of exile was normally related to the prescribed duration, whether it was temporary or for life. If only banished for a fixed period of time, the extent of the exile’s desire to remain involved in political or social life became of great importance to where he spent his time away from Rome. These factors contributed heavily to determining the destination for exile. Safe refuge could be sought among states of allied with Rome such as Neapolis, Praeneste, Tibur, and others. In order to isolate themselves from political intrigues, many exiles including C. Porcius Cato and Q. Caecilius Metellus Numidicus sought locations abroad, Tarraco, Spain, and the island of Rhodes respectively. Destinations such as Sicily and Dyrrachium were used for their proximity to Italy by those who wanted to keep in touch with events in Rome.

Exile can be a very harsh punishment but it is not without its gifts. It is a kinder penalty than execution. It offers hope of a return. And in some cases, it leads to unexpected outcomes. Rome itself is said to owe her rise to exiles. To some extent, Aeneas can be seen as an exile, driven from his Trojan home, and leading his people to Italy where his descendants would one day found Rome. Moreover, Rome’s founding father Romulus populated his newly established city with prisoners of war, slaves, criminals and exiles. Finally, turning our focus back to Ovid, we must acknowledge that Ovid’s great exilic works, the Tristia and the Epistulae ex Ponto owe their conception to the poet’s banishment.


In 1793, the revolutionary French government sent Edmond-Charles Genêt to the United States to negotiate an alliance with the U.S. government. France empowered Genêt to issue letters of marque —documents authorizing ships and their crews to engage in piracy—to allow him to arm captured British ships in American ports with U.S. soldiers. Genêt arrived in Charleston, South Carolina, amid great Democratic-Republican fanfare. He immediately began commissioning American privateer ships and organizing volunteer American militias to attack Spanish holdings in the Americas, then traveled to Philadelphia, gathering support for the French cause along the way. President Washington and Hamilton denounced Genêt, knowing his actions threatened to pull the United States into a war with Great Britain. The Citizen Genêt affair , as it became known, spurred Great Britain to instruct its naval commanders in the West Indies to seize all ships trading with the French. The British captured hundreds of American ships and their cargoes, increasing the possibility of war between the two countries.

In this tense situation, Great Britain worked to prevent a wider conflict by ending its seizure of American ships and offered to pay for captured cargoes. Hamilton saw an opportunity and recommended to Washington that the United States negotiate. Supreme Court Justice John Jay was sent to Britain, instructed by Hamilton to secure compensation for captured American ships ensure the British leave the Northwest outposts they still occupied despite the 1783 Treaty of Paris and gain an agreement for American trade in the West Indies. Even though Jay personally disliked slavery, his mission also required him to seek compensation from the British for slaves who left with the British at the end of the Revolutionary War.

The resulting 1794 agreement, known as Jay’s Treaty, fulfilled most of his original goals. The British would turn over the frontier posts in the Northwest, American ships would be allowed to trade freely in the West Indies, and the United States agreed to assemble a commission charged with settling colonial debts U.S. citizens owed British merchants. The treaty did not address the important issue of impressment , however—the British navy’s practice of forcing or “impressing” American sailors to work and fight on British warships. Jay’s Treaty led the Spanish, who worried that it signaled an alliance between the United States and Great Britain, to negotiate a treaty of their own—Pinckney’s Treaty—that allowed American commerce to flow through the Spanish port of New Orleans. Pinckney’s Treaty allowed American farmers, who were moving in greater numbers to the Ohio River Valley, to ship their products down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to New Orleans, where they could be transported to East Coast markets.

Jay’s Treaty confirmed the fears of Democratic-Republicans, who saw it as a betrayal of republican France, cementing the idea that the Federalists favored aristocracy and monarchy. Partisan American newspapers tried to sway public opinion, while the skillful writing of Hamilton, who published a number of essays on the subject, explained the benefits of commerce with Great Britain.

The 1848 Revolutions: “The People’s Spring”

In 1848, all of Europe faced a series of rebellions and revolutions. In what some referred to as “The Springtime of the People”, pro-democracy and pro-reform demonstrations broke out in every capitol of Europe. The “Year of Revolution” toppled regimes, altered the political history of Europe, and inspired a German economist named Karl Marx to write a pamphlet entitled “The Communist Manifesto”.

The 1848 Revolution in Paris photo from Wiki Commons

After the French Revolution of 1789 overthrew the most powerful monarchy in the world and declared a democratic Republic, the idea of democracy was planted all across Europe. The result was 50 years of civil war and internal repression, as monarchies sought to hold back the tide of democratic ideology and maintain their positions of power, and ethnic and national minorities fought for independence and citizens fought for a democratic government. In Italy, Austria, Hungary, and the principalities that made up the region of Germany, royal houses formed secret police forces and stationed troops in the capitol to silence dissent and crush pro-democracy demonstrations. In England, where royal power had already been subject to limits by a Parliament, a mass movement known as the “Chartists” used written petitions with six million signatures to demand that the Parliament be made democratic, with freely-elected members under universal suffrage (without property qualifications for voting). In France itself, Napoleon Bonaparte destroyed the Republic and declared himself Emperor, and after his defeat the French monarchy had been re-established under King Louis-Philippe.

There was also another force at work. Led by England, the European economy was changing. For centuries, Europe had been an agricultural society where large land-owners held the economic and political power. But now the world was being changed by industrialization, in which huge factories were mass-producing a level of products that had been unthinkable in previous times. These factories were owned by a rapidly-rising middle class, whose wealth soon led to political influence and conflict with the traditional land-owners and royal nobility. The factories also produced an entirely new social class–the industrial workers, who labored long hours in the factories, in horribly unsafe conditions for meager pay, and who lived in poverty in crowded urban tenements, voiceless and powerless. The aspirations of the working class were expressed in the ideologies of socialism and communism, which envisioned not only political democracy, but economic democracy as well. It was a social situation that was ripe for an explosion. And the explosion happened early in 1848.

Sparks had already appeared. In January 1848, demonstrations broke out in Milan, then a part of the Austrian Empire, after another increase in taxes was announced, and 61 demonstrators were killed. And later that month, pro-democracy protests were held in Sicily.

In France, the pro-democracy movement had been driven underground by police repression, and now took the form of “banquets”, large dinner parties held by political idealists which featured speeches calling for democracy and the restoration of the Republic. In February 1848, King Louis-Philippe outlawed “banquets” along with all other political gatherings. In response, Parisians took to the streets, and 40 protesters were shot by the King’s troops. That fueled even larger demonstrations, and events happened quickly. Mobs of demonstrators invaded the Chamber of Deputies. King Louis-Philippe abdicated and fled to England, leaving his nine-year old nephew as the titular King of France. The revolutionaries seized the government, and declared the Second Republic on February 24. In March, the revolutionary government opened a program of public-works projects to provide jobs for the working class poor, and announced free elections for April.

Within weeks, news of the victory of the French democracy movement shot across Europe and unleashed a wave of rebellions. In Germany, rebellions broke out in Munich, Cologne, Mannheim and Berlin, local princes and the king were removed in Bavaria, and in Prussia King Wilhelm was forced to produce a new constitution and promise democratic elections for a Constituent Assembly. In Vienna, the Hapsburg Emperor’s Prime Minister fled to England. In Italy, uprisings in Milan and Venice led to the withdrawal of Austrian troops and independence. In Budapest, street demonstrations forced the Austrian Emperor to grant autonomy to Hungary: in Prague, revolts demanded independence for a Czech nation. Independence movements also took to the streets in Poland, Bessarabia, and Romania. In England, where Chartist demonstrations broke out, the Queen was moved to the Isle of Wight for her own safety, and one thousand troops under the Duke of Wellington were dispatched to guard London.

When the French elections were held in April, the radical socialists and communists found themselves in a minority. As a result, when the Republic announced that it would end the public-works project, the working class radicals, unable to influence the Assembly, took to the streets instead. In the rebellion that became known as “The June Days”, barricades and red flags went up all over Paris, the Army went in with cannons and bayonets, and 1500 rebels were killed in the fighting.

Once again, a victory in Paris set the tone for events in Europe, but this time in the opposite direction. Now, the royalist reactionaries had the momentum, and government troops were sent in to crush nationalist pro-democracy rebellions in nearly every major city in Europe, including Prague, Vienna, Berlin, Milan, and Budapest. By October 1848, the “Year of Revolution” was over, and the European monarchies were firmly back in control. In the December French elections, Louis Napoleon, the nephew of Bonaparte, won, and promptly disbanded the Second Republic and declared himself Emperor.

In the end, none of the 1848 Revolutions achieved their goals, the monarchies of Europe emerged more powerful than before, and a wave of reaction and repression swept the continent, arresting thousands and setting back the democracy movement for decades. It would not be until the cataclysm of World War One reduced Europe to a smoking blood-stained ruin that the last defeated royal empires would finally fall, and parliamentary democracy would establish itself in every major country.

The 1848 Revolutions would have one other long-term effect. In 1847, a group of German exiles living in London had formed a group to agitate for democracy and socialism. Originally called the “League of the Just”, they changed their name to “The Communist League”. That July, they appointed a German exile named Karl Mark and his partner Friedrich Engels to draft a platform for the group. When the February 1848 revolt broke out in France, Marx left London for Paris, and the following month published The Communist Manifesto, which spelled out his ideas about class struggle, historical materialism, and the downfall of capitalism and the rise of communism. When the reaction set in and the Republic began arresting radicals, Marx tried to leave for Switzerland but was denied entry, and instead returned to London. Marx’s pamphlet was little noticed at the time and played no role in the 1848 rebellions, but by the time of the next major social upheaval in France, the 1870 Paris Commune, Marx’s Manifesto had fueled one of the most powerful political movements in the world.

Retaining the royals: why has the British monarchy survived – and thrived?

As the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announce their desire to step back as senior members of the royal family, we look back at an article by Sarah Gristwood asking why, as the world sees a decline in the number of monarchs, fascination with the British royals continues to flourish.

This competition is now closed

Published: January 13, 2020 at 3:30 pm

There is, of course, much truth in both these theories. We love tradition, especially when it is softened by a little flexibility. But maybe the real secret to the long success of the British monarchy is its connection, not to the stodgy old ways of the stately home, but to the aggressive, thrusting, young nation that we used to be.

Magna Carta

Looking back, of course, one sees a long chain of events that have shaped – curbed, coloured – the British monarchy. We’ve celebrated one in recent years – King John’s sealing of Magna Carta in 1215, requiring the king to rule only under law. (Scotland in 1320 saw the Declaration of Arbroath, which while primarily a declaration of the nation’s independence seemed also to suggest that a monarch might be made by popular choice.)

And although in many ways the kings of England actually assumed more authority during the few centuries that followed, this is an idea that has never gone away. Even in the days of that earlier, authoritarian, Queen Elizabeth I, the bishop John Aylmer could write that England was governed by a ‘rule mixte’ of prince, peers and people – assuaging fears of a female monarch with the assurance that she did not in any case rule autonomously.

The model family

William IV and Victoria after him were horrified to learn they could not even choose their own prime minister. It was the great Victorian Walter Bagehot who wrote provocatively that Britain was “a secret republic”. But that was the secret of the royal family’s survival, perhaps. And it was Victoria’s husband, Albert, who carved out for the crown another, a moral, kind of authority as the nation’s first and model family – one which, in spite of any evidence to the contrary, they have retained almost until the present day.

The popularity game

Not that the royals won’t change the tradition and trim the privilege, when necessary. The Queen’s decision to pay taxes and to cut down the Civil List is only part of that readiness seen in 1917 to play the popularity game. To try to be whatever we want them to be. The change in tone that followed Diana’s death may be the ultimate example – and, indeed, she may have played a role she never intended in reshaping the monarchy. While the furore around Diana’s death finally proved to the royal establishment the need to adapt, she also gave us, in her sons and now her grandson and granddaughter, royals better equipped to give the institution a successful 21st century.

Edward V

Richard III plays a central role in one of the most emotionally charged stories in English history. In April 1483 Edward IV died leaving his 12-year-old son, also called Edward, as heir.

The dying king had appointed his brother, Richard of Gloucester, as the boy's protector. In short order Edward was placed in the Tower of London, had his coronation postponed and was then barred from the throne after his parents' marriage was declared illegitimate. In June Richard was declared king.

Along with his younger brother Richard, Edward was never seen outside the tower again.

In 1674, the skeletons of two children were discovered during building work in the tower and were reburied in Westminster Abbey under the names of the missing children but controversy rages as to who they really were - as well as the true fate of the princes and the identity of any killer.

What happened to Portugal’s monarchy?

On a chilly February day in 1908, the King of Portugal and his family were making their way back to their home in Lisbon after a holiday when tragedy struck. Gunmen attacked their carriage, fatally wounding the King. In the confusion, more bullets rained down on them. A gun battle ensued, but by the time officials got the royal carriage to safety, the King was dead, and his heir was in the last moments of his life. The monarch’s younger son would take the throne, but the crown never recovered from the blow suffered that day. A double assassination, a weakened successor and the rise of republicanism led to the fall of the House of Braganza and the end of the monarchy in Portugal.

The Background

The death of Carlos I was the beginning of the end for Portugal’s monarchy (Picture Public Domain, CC, Wiki Commons)

The murders of Carlos I and his eldest son, Luis Filipe, that cold day caused shockwaves around Europe. However, an angry end to the King’s 19-year reign had seemed inevitable for some time, even if the brutality of his death was hard to comprehend. In fact, such was the rising opposition in some parts of Portuguese society to the monarchy that the succession of Carlos’ second son, Manuel, as king in the aftermath of the assassinations only seemed to be delaying the inevitable tumble of the throne.

Carlos had inherited a difficult crown. The House of Braganza had ruled Portugal since 1640 and had seen its power expand throughout the 17 th and 18 th centuries. But by the early 1800s, the Portuguese Royal Family found itself weakened and based itself in Brazil, part of its empire. In the decades that followed, the thrones of the two countries parted ways leading to power struggles within the ruling house. The kind and clever Maria II had re-established Braganza power in Lisbon. But by the time her grandson, Carlos I, became King of Portugal and the Algarves in 1889, the country was once again facing a crisis.

At the heart of Carlos’ problems was the empire which had once brought Portugal so much wealth. Just a year into his reign, the country was forced to agree to the ‘British Ultimatum’, a series of treaties which ended claims of Portuguese sovereignty in parts of Africa. It was seen as a humiliation for the King while popular unrest grew as the economy wobbled and the country found itself bankrupt.

Strikes and protests took place while the press became more outspoken in its criticism of the monarchy. Republican parties began to gain support while the mainstream political set up of Portugal fragmented and effective government began to disappear. By the time Carlos appointed Joao Franco as Prime Minister in 1906, with sweeping powers that would only be scaled back when the new premier and the King thought it appropriate, he was facing opposition in every quarter, and he knew it. As the King of Portugal signed a decree in the early part of 1908 which would allow his government to send opponents into exile, he called it his death sentence. Soon afterwards, he was proved right.

Killing a King

In fact, his assassins had already made plans to murder their monarch before Carlos put his pen to parchment that fateful day. The fact that the King was talking of death as a real possibility only underlined how fragile he realised his power and position were. The end came on February 1 st 1908 as Carlos, his wife Maria Amelia and their two sons rode in an open carriage through the centre of Lisbon on their return from a break at their country retreat.

Carlos I, Amelia and a newborn Luis Filipe of Portugal (Photo Public Domain, Wiki Commons)

As the royal party entered the Terreiro do Paco in the centre of Lisbon, it was fired on by republicans. Carlos was killed instantly, and in the chaos that followed, one of the assassins, Alfredo Luis da Costa, jumped into the coach and attacked Luis Filipe, Prince Royal of Portugal and the man who would be declared monarch as soon as his father’s death was confirmed. As Queen Maria Amelia tried to shield her family with a bouquet of flowers she’d been given, the heir fought back, drawing his own gun, but in the process his movements allowed another assassin to fire at him with a rifle. His younger brother, Manuel, tried to save him, but it was too late. Police shot and killed Da Costa and fellow attacker, Manuel Buica, while other officers and soldiers rushed the carriage to the Royal Naval Arsenal. Carlos I was confirmed dead. His heir, Luis Filipe, died soon afterwards. The blood soaked brother who had tried to save the Prince’s life was now King Manuel II.

The aftermath

The tragic start to his reign would be a shadow of things to come for Manuel who was just 18 and still a student when he became king. He made public declarations that he would not intervene in politics and undertook a wide range of visits across his new kingdom to try and reach out to his subjects. However, political unrest continued, and within two years of his accession, Manuel’s new kingdom had experienced a string of different governments.

Manuel II, Last King of Portugal (Photo by Augusto Bobone – Leiloeira São Domingos, Public Domain, Wiki Commons)

Growing agitation bubbled into revolution in October 1910. A military coup turned into wider rebellion and Manuel’s official residence, the Palacio das Necessidades, was bombarded. The King fled, hoping to make it to the northern city of Porto on the royal yacht, Amelia IV. With him were his mother and grandmother, but soon after they left, they found out Porto had fallen to the revolutionaries. They were forced to divert to Gibraltar. Manuel headed to the UK – and exile.

The last days of monarchy

There were attempts to restore the throne in the early years of Manuel’s exile although the King became increasingly anxious about the impact of the efforts would have on the future of his country. He insisted that the crown could only be restored at the will of the people.

Manuel, meanwhile, married and settled in Twickenham, where he set about trying to help his country and his new local community wherever he could. He also met other members of his royal dynasty to discuss where the right to rule the country should pass as he and his wife, Augusta Victoria, had no children.

There was no concrete resolution to that question when Manuel died suddenly, at his home in Fulwell Park, on July 2 nd 1932. He was buried in Lisbon. The crown has never been restored. Now, over 100 years since the violent deaths of Carlos I and Prince Luis Filipe and the short and tumultuous reign of Manuel II, those momentous events remain the last acts of the Portuguese monarchy.

When was the most stable time in recent Iraqi history? Most likely it was during the British-sponsored Hashemite Kingdom of Iraq from 1921 to 1958.

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The Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this year welcomed former British colonies, but absent were those Middle Eastern states where Britain had exercised imperial soft power in the twentieth century. From around the time of the First World War protectorates and mandates were used to control these territories. In Jordan, Iraq, Egypt and later Libya, the British set up kings to help their rule.

Back in 1921 two brothers, Faisal and Abdullah (the sons of Hussein ibn Ali who lead the Arab Revolt), were rewarded by the British and made rulers of Mesopotamia and Transjordan respectively. These were territories captured by the British from the Ottoman Empire 1917-1918 (with not inconsiderable help from the Arab Revolt), and were awarded by the League of Nations to Britain as mandates. This territory was supposedly to be held in trust for eventual independence, while the mandatory power built up the administration and infrastructure. To help the British, Faisal became ruler of the Hashemite Kingdom of Iraq, while Abdullah was Emir and then King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

The Hashemite family trace their descent from the Prophet Mohammed and were governors, or Sharifs, of Mecca for hundreds of years. Sharif Hussein ibn Ali launched the Arab Revolt against the Ottomans in 1916 in response to British promises of independence. He made himself King of the Hejaz, the strip of Arabia along the Red Sea, but lost it in the mid-1920s to the fundamentalist Saudis. Hussein ibn Ali and his eldest son Ali – who had tried to fight a rear guard action against Abdul-Aziz ibn Saud as King of the Hejaz (1924-1925) – each found ready-made exile in the British sponsored realms of Jordan and Iraq.

Although outsiders to Mesopotamia, the Hashemites arguably developed the administration and infrastructure in a country that had become a backwater in the former Ottoman Empire, and three generations ruled as Kings of Iraq for 37 years. The urbane Faisal I (1921-1933) had been a member of the Ottoman parliament but while participating in his father’s Arab revolt became a friend of T E Lawrence. At the Paris Peace Conference in 1920 he had tried to establish himself as King of Greater Syria in Damascus, but was blocked by the French.

Faisal I was an inspired candidate as King of Iraq, since he was unencumbered by French notions of secular republicanism. His rule meant that the British relinquished their mandate in 1932 and Iraq gained independence, although the British retained military bases. Faisal I died suddenly the next year, aged 48, while having a health check-up in Switzerland. His son Ghazi (1933-1939) was something of a playboy and more antipathetic to the continuing British influence (as well as being sympathetic to the strong nationalism of Nazi Germany). A lover of fast cars, he died in April 1939 at the wheel of his Buick after an evening of drinking. Some have even suggested that British intelligence services engineered the car accident.

The final king Faisal II (1939-1958) succeeded as a four year old. The regent was his uncle (actually second cousin) Abdulilah, the son of Faisal I’s brother, Ali (who had been defeated and thrown out of Arabia by the Saudis in 1925). The regent was active in government, although he was also fond of shopping in Bond Street shops and smart young men. He was briefly removed by pro-Nazi officers, an event that lead to the short Anglo-Iraqi War in May 1941, after which Britain restored him. Faisal II came of age in 1953 but his sole rule was hampered because Abdulilah remained the heir-apparent to this young and as yet unmarried monarch. Faisal II’s reputation was also harmed by being pro-British. He made a state visit to the young Queen Elizabeth II, but he could not defend Britain’s actions during the Suez Crisis. In 1958 Faisal II, Abdulilah and most of the royal family were murdered on Bastille Day.

The British also promoted a royal family in Egypt: the dynasty of Mehmet Ali. An Albanian soldier, Mehmet Ali, had gone to Egypt to help the Ottomans restore control after Napoleon’s Egyptian expedition 1798-1801. But Mehmet Ali instead established himself and his successors as independent rulers, using the title Khedive (for which the best translation is viceroy). The British had first established bases to protect the Suez Canal in 1882. When war broke out in 1914, the Khedive Abbas Hilmi was visiting the Ottoman capital Constantinople. The British, now at war with the Turks, could not accept this and deposed him.

Britain declared a protectorate over Egypt and set up the last Khedive’s uncle as Sultan Hussein Kamil (1914-1917). He was succeeded by his brother Fuad I (1917-1936) who took the western title King when Egypt nominally became independent in 1922 (as in Iraq, Britain retained military bases and a strong influence on ministerial appointments). Fuad I worked with the Egyptian parliament and promoted education, establishing a secular university in Cairo. His son King Farouk (1936-1952) came to the throne as a popular, intelligent and handsome young man. Egypt’s prestige soured – being the centre of Arab film, newspapers and education.

When the Arab League was formed in 1945, Cairo was the natural choice for its headquarters. But Farouk’s power was curtailed when the British, wary of his antagonism during the Second World War, imposed a new government in 1942. Farouk became more licentious and his weight ballooned. Cairo was known for its parties – at one event the Kings of Egypt, Albania, Bulgaria, Greece and Yugoslavia were reportedly present. The Free Officers movement deposed Farouk in 1952 he died overweight, choking on his meal at a restaurant table in Rome in 1965, aged only 45. The Egyptian monarchy was not quite finished, though. Farouk’s infant son was proclaimed King Fuad II (1952-1953) but a baby in exile with his deposed father was not a sustainable head of state, and a republic was declared within a year. Fuad II, now in his early 60s, has not attempted to reclaim the Egyptian throne.

The British were also behind Libya’s brief monarchy. The Italians seized the north African coast adjacent to Sicily from the Ottomans in 1912, taking advantage of the Turk’s defeat in the First Balkan War. In 1920, to aid their control the leader of the Sufi Senussi religious-tribal order, Sidi Mohammed Idris al-Senussi had become their vassal as Emir of Cyrenaica in the east around Benghazi, but he soon went into exile in British-occupied Egypt. He got his reward for ardently supporting the British against the Italians and Germans in the Western Desert during the Second World War when, at the end of Allied military occupation, the British installed him as King Idris (1951-1969). Idris consolidated his power with the help of the old elite Ottoman-Libyan families and multinational oil companies. Into the 1960s Idris allowed his nephew and heir Hassan al-Senuusi, to exercise increasing power. In 1969 Idris announced that he would formally abdicate in favour of his nephew. However, despite the presence of USAF and RAF airbases, Idris was deposed by Colonel Gaddafi while on an overseas medical trip.

The British-sponsored monarchies in Iraq, Egypt and Libya did not last. However, the Hashemites continue to reign in Jordan, with Abdullah I (1921-1951), Talal (1951-1952), the well-respected Hussein (1951-1999) and Abdullah II (1999 onwards). The Jordanian kings, cousins of Iraq’s monarchs, have successfully introduced modern concepts of the nation-state, administration and education. But this could have been said of the other monarchies. They fell to ideas of pan-Arab nationalism and are now beset by Islamism.

History judges the old kingdoms harshly. From the outside we may favour democratic secular republics, but at present the remaining monarchy in Jordan endures, while the deposed monarchies in Libya, Egypt and Iraq are beset by tragedy. When was the most stable time in recent Iraqi history? Most likely it was during the Hashemite Kingdom of Iraq from 1921 to 1958. Abdulilah, the Regent of Iraq, reportedly said that monarchy was best for the east. Should the reasonableness of this view be judged by his and his nephew King Faisal II’s fate, or by the fate of Iraq since their murders?

Prelude to revolution

The 1979 revolution, which brought together Iranians across many different social groups, has its roots in Iran’s long history. These groups, which included clergy, landowners, intellectuals, and merchants, had previously come together in the Constitutional Revolution of 1905–11. Efforts toward satisfactory reform were continually stifled, however, amid reemerging social tensions as well as foreign intervention from Russia, the United Kingdom, and, later, the United States. The United Kingdom helped Reza Shah Pahlavi establish a monarchy in 1921. Along with Russia, the U.K. then pushed Reza Shah into exile in 1941, and his son Mohammad Reza Pahlavi took the throne. In 1953, amid a power struggle between Mohammed Reza Shah and Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the U.K. Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) orchestrated a coup against Mosaddegh’s government.

Years later, Mohammad Reza Shah dismissed the parliament and launched the White Revolution—an aggressive modernization program that upended the wealth and influence of landowners and clerics, disrupted rural economies, led to rapid urbanization and Westernization, and prompted concerns over democracy and human rights. The program was economically successful, but the benefits were not distributed evenly, though the transformative effects on social norms and institutions were widely felt. Opposition to the shah’s policies was accentuated in the 1970s, when world monetary instability and fluctuations in Western oil consumption seriously threatened the country’s economy, still directed in large part toward high-cost projects and programs. A decade of extraordinary economic growth, heavy government spending, and a boom in oil prices led to high rates of inflation and the stagnation of Iranians’ buying power and standard of living.

In addition to mounting economic difficulties, sociopolitical repression by the shah’s regime increased in the 1970s. Outlets for political participation were minimal, and opposition parties such as the National Front (a loose coalition of nationalists, clerics, and noncommunist left-wing parties) and the pro-Soviet Tūdeh (“Masses”) Party were marginalized or outlawed. Social and political protest was often met with censorship, surveillance, or harassment, and illegal detention and torture were common.

For the first time in more than half a century, the secular intellectuals—many of whom were fascinated by the populist appeal of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, a former professor of philosophy in Qom who had been exiled in 1964 after speaking out harshly against the shah’s recent reform program—abandoned their aim of reducing the authority and power of the Shiʿi ulama (religious scholars) and argued that, with the help of the ulama, the shah could be overthrown.

In this environment, members of the National Front, the Tūdeh Party, and their various splinter groups now joined the ulama in broad opposition to the shah’s regime. Khomeini continued to preach in exile about the evils of the Pahlavi regime, accusing the shah of irreligion and subservience to foreign powers. Thousands of tapes and print copies of Khomeini’s speeches were smuggled back into Iran during the 1970s as an increasing number of unemployed and working-poor Iranians—mostly new migrants from the countryside, who were disenchanted by the cultural vacuum of modern urban Iran—turned to the ulama for guidance. The shah’s dependence on the United States, his close ties with Israel—then engaged in extended hostilities with the overwhelmingly Muslim Arab states—and his regime’s ill-considered economic policies served to fuel the potency of dissident rhetoric with the masses.

Outwardly, with a swiftly expanding economy and a rapidly modernizing infrastructure, everything was going well in Iran. But in little more than a generation, Iran had changed from a traditional, conservative, and rural society to one that was industrial, modern, and urban. The sense that in both agriculture and industry too much had been attempted too soon and that the government, either through corruption or incompetence, had failed to deliver all that was promised was manifested in demonstrations against the regime in 1978.

Jan. 17, 1893 | Hawaiian Monarchy Overthrown by America-Backed Businessmen

Queen Liliuokalani, the last monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii, is shown in this uncredited portrait taken around 1890.
Historic Headlines

Learn about key events in history and their connections to today.

On Jan. 17, 1893, Hawaii’s monarchy was overthrown when a group of businessmen and sugar planters forced Queen Liliuokalani to abdicate. The coup led to the dissolving of the Kingdom of Hawaii two years later, its annexation as a U.S. territory and eventual admission as the 50th state in the union.

The first European contact with Hawaii was made in 1778 by Capt. James Cook. In the 19th century, traders and missionaries came to the islands from Europe and the United States. They often opposed the Hawaiian monarchy, favoring instead a British-style constitutional monarchy where the monarch held little power.

In 1874, David Kalakaua became king and sought to reduce the power of the white Missionary Party (later Reform Party) in the government. In 1887, angered by King Kalakaua’s extravagant spending and his attempts to dilute their power, a small group of Missionary Party members, known as the Hawaiian League, struck back against the king.

Led by Lorrin A. Thurston and Sanford B. Dole, the Hawaiian League drafted a new constitution that reduced the power of the king and increased the power of the cabinet and Legislature. It also extended voting rights to wealthy noncitizens, while excluding Asians and restricting access for native Hawaiians through land-owning and literacy provisions. Backed by a militia, the group used the threat of violence to force King Kalakaua to sign the constitution, which became known as the Bayonet Constitution.

King Kalakaua died in 1891 and was succeeded by his sister, Liliuokalani, who proposed a new constitution that would restore powers of the monarchy and extend voting rights for native Hawaiians. The queen’s actions angered many of Hawaii’s white businessmen, who formed a 13-member Committee of Safety with the goal of overthrowing the monarchy and seeking annexation by the United States.

The Jan. 29, 1893 edition of The New York Times recounted the events of the coup. On Jan. 16, Hawaiian Marshal Charles B. Wilson attempted to arrest the committee members and declare martial law, but his attempts were turned down by other government officials who feared violence. The next day, after a police officer was shot and wounded trying to halt the distribution of weapons to the Committee of Safety’s militia, the committee decided to put its coup into action. Near the queen’s ʻIolani Palace in Honolulu, the committee’s militia gathered and were joined by 162 U.S. Marines and Navy sailors who were ordered by John L. Stevens, U.S. Minister to Hawaii, to protect the committee. The queen surrendered peacefully to avoid violence.

The Committee of Safety established a provisional government headed by Mr. Dole. U.S. President Grover Cleveland opposed the provisional government and called for the queen to be restored to power, but the Committee of Safety established the Republic of Hawaii and refused to cede power. In 1895, Hawaiian royalists began a coup against the republic, but it did not succeed. Queen Liliuokalani was arrested for her alleged role in the coup and convicted of treason while under house arrest, the queen agreed to formally abdicate and dissolve the monarchy.

In 1898, the United States annexed Hawaii. Hawaii was administered as a U.S. territory until 1959, when it became the 50th state.

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In 1993, Congress issued an apology to the people of Hawaii for the U.S. government’s role in the overthrow and acknowledged that “the native Hawaiian people never directly relinquished to the United States their claims to their inherent sovereignty.” And, since 2000, Senator Daniel K. Akaka of Hawaii, who is soon to retire, has repeatedly proposed to Congress the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, also known as the Akaka Bill, which would extend sovereignty to 400,000 native Hawaiians.

In 2005, The Times described the bill: “The measure would give [Native Hawaiians] equivalent legal standing to American Indians and native Alaskans and lead to the creation of a governing body that would make decisions on [their] behalf … The governing body would also have the power to negotiate with federal and state authorities over the disposition of vast amounts of land and resources taken by the United States when the islands were annexed in 1898.”

Supporters say the bill is necessary to protect native culture and redress Hawaiians for past injustices. Opponents say the bill is unworkable and would create a racially divided state.

What are your thoughts on legislation that gives native Hawaiians more control over the land, culture and resources of the islands? Given your understanding of history, would you support or oppose a bill that grants more autonomy to native Hawaiians? Why?

Why Is the King of Greece Living as a Commoner?

As his country faces collapse, the former monarch makes a dramatic choice.

Once upon a time, in a kingdom by the sea, a handsome 24-year-old king married a beautiful 18-year-old princess, and the people of the kingdom rejoiced, and the king and queen lived in a golden palace in the capital, surrounded by royal gardens.

The king in this fairy tale was Constantine II of Greece. His teenage bride was Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark. But in 1967, three years after their wedding, after a coup and a failed countercoup, the young couple and their two small children were driven out of Greece, making a harrowing escape that forced the family into more than four decades of exile. In 1974, while Constantine was living in England and forbidden to speak on his own behalf, the king's subjects abolished the monarchy and stripped the royal family of its palaces, titles, property, and passports.

Now, almost 50 years after he left Greece, at a moment when the eyes of the world regard the country with pity and sorrow, when wealthy Greeks have long since stashed their money in other countries, and when young Greeks are desperately seeking ways to go anywhere else to find work, Constantine, no longer young, has chosen to move back to his native land, investing heavily in a new home for his remaining years and living as a commoner.

It's not as if his life of exile gave him no pleasure. Constantine has thrived for decades at the pinnacle of international society,socializing with Europe's royals (most of them his relatives). In 1986, to celebrate Queen Anne-Marie's 40th birthday, Constantine took over Claridge's Hotel in London for a ball attended by Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip (Constantine's cousin), along with Prince Charles and Princess Diana, King Juan Carlos of Spain and his wife Queen Sofía (Constantine's sister), Queen Margrethe of Denmark (his sister-in-law), and virtually all the other royals of Europe. The glittering crowd danced to Lester Lanin's orchestra until dawn, when breakfast was served.

When Constantine turned 60, in 2000, Prince Charles hosted a gala at his country home, Highgrove. It was on that occasion that Queen Elizabeth and Camilla Parker Bowles retired to a convenient room for their first private conversation.

So the question must be asked: Why, at the moment of his country's greatest economic turmoil, would Constantine elect to return to a commoner's existence in Greece, the country that took away his crown, and even his citizenship?

"It's a mystery to us," said Dino Anagnostopoulos, the king's lifelong friend and former classmate. "I don't understand how a man who knows everybody who is anybody in this world would choose to go back to Greece&mdashand especially now, when the country is going through such hard times."

"Why" has become the central mystery of Constantine's life. In person he comes across as a regular guy. He speaks fluent English with a bit of a British accent, and he enjoys hearing and telling a good joke, even at his own expense. Yet despite his chatty bonhomie, it is difficult to pin down the reason for the 75-year-old ex-king's decision to return to his place of birth. In fact, it took three long interviews&mdash two in Athens, one in London&mdashbefore he would address the topic.

One would certainly understand if he never wanted to return, given the often traumatic events of his young life, beginning with his family's escape from Greece just ahead of the invading Germans when he was a year old. The family settled in Cairo, where the infant prince nearly died after an intentional misdiagnosis by a doctor who was a communist agent (a second doctor diagnosed acute appendicitis and recommended a timely surgery). A year after his family returned to Greece, when he was six, he became the crown prince after his childless uncle, King George II, died and his father assumed the throne as King Paul.

The prince's parents created a rigorous boarding school, Anavryta, for his education and handpicked 14 boys to be his classmates. They became his closest friends for life. On weekends, away from the spartan school's regime of cold showers and 6 a.m. runs, the young prince would invite friends to the summer palace of Tatoi, north of Athens, where his parents held opulent balls and well-born Greek maidens dreamed of catching the eye of the handsome prince. It was not to be. At 19, on a state visit to Denmark, he fell hard for Princess Anne-Marie, youngest daughter of King Frederick IX of Denmark and sister of the current queen, Margrethe II. She was just 13. On their second meeting, in 1961, when she was 15 and he was 21, he announced to his parents that he was going to marry Anne-Marie. "I didn't ask or suggest. I talked about it as a fait accompli," he recalled.

Convincing Anne-Marie's father was more difficult. When he asked Frederick IX for permission to marry his daughter, the king locked Constantine in a nearby bathroom. When Frederick told his wife, Queen Ingrid, of the proposal, she suggested he release Constantine and open a bottle of champagne.

Constantine was no slouch. He was a dashing young Olympic medalist, having won gold in sailing at the Rome summer games in 1960&mdashthe first gold medal for Greece since 1912. "It is the most wonderful feeling I've ever had, other than getting engaged to my wife," he said.

In March 1964, King Paul died of cancer, making his 23-year-old son King Constantine II. The new king and Anne-Marie married six months later, in Athens&mdashtwo weeks after the bride's 18th birthday. "I was the first king ever to marry in Greece," he said with a smile. "And last year we were fortunate to celebrate our 50th anniversary&mdashback in Athens, at the former Royal Yacht Club in Piraeus."

Less than three years after Constantine became king, a group of right-wing midlevel army officers led by Colonel George Papadopoulos staged a coup d'état, on April 21, 1967, surrounding the palace at Tatoi with tanks. Many Greeks would suffer under Papadopoulos's dictatorship. "That night the colonels arrested somewhere between 6,000 and 8,000 people, including all my staff, in under two hours," Constantine told me. "I had to think of all the blood that would be shed if I openly opposed them."

A month after the coup, the king met a group of his old classmates. According to Anagnostopoulos, when they berated Constantine for recognizing the regime, he told them, "Don't worry, in six months everything will be straightened out."

On December 13, 1967, before dawn, the king launched a countercoup, flying with his pregnant wife, their two-year-old daughter, Alexia, seven-month old Crown Prince Pavlos, Constantine's mother Queen Frederica, and his sister Princess Irene to Kavala, a city in northern Greece&mdasha place where he believed the army and its generals were loyal to him. He intended to create an alternative government in Thessaloniki, the second-largest city in Greece.

The air force and navy immediately declared for the king and mobilized, but the colonels in Athens put together a force that advanced north, and within hours it was clear the countercoup had failed. "I understood afterward, when you start something like this, it has to work in the first hour, two hours maximum, or it's a waste of time," Constantine said. "You would have to enforce it with a lot of bloodshed. The Greeks had been through a terrible civil war, and I wasn't going to put them through that again."

That night, to avoid open conflict, Constantine flew his family out of the country, toward Italy he piloted the plane himself. "We had less than three minutes of fuel when we touched down," he said. "I had to borrow $300 from my valet to refuel the plane, and my brother-in-law [King Juan Carlos] had to send me clothes."

On the heels of these agonizing events, Queen Anne-Marie suffered a miscarriage. "It was a very dark period in our history," Constantine said, with obvious emotion. "A lot of officers who supported me were badly treated by the colonels when we failed. But at least we all made a major effort to free our country from that dictatorship."

From Rome, Constantine declared, "I am sure I shall go back the way my ancestors did." (Both his grandfather King Constantine I and his uncle King George II spent large portions of their reigns in exile during the world wars, which caused George II to remark, "The most important tool for a king of Greece is a suitcase.") Constantine and his family lived for two months in the Greek embassy in Rome and then for five years in a house in a suburb.

Over the next year the junta sent feelers to the king, trying to negotiate terms under which he would return, but he insisted on the restoration of democracy. He believes the colonels also engineered two attempts on his life.

"The second time," he said, "I was going to Tehran to meet the shah. When I got to Heathrow, I noticed that the flight was quite long, with two stops, so I changed to a direct flight on British Airways. When I got to Tehran the shah told me there had been an assassin on the Frankfurt leg of the original flight, but his people had intercepted him. 'So what happened to the fellow?' I asked. 'Do you really want to know?' he said."

In 1973 the colonels in the junta were themselves replaced by younger officers, and when the new leaders tried to stage a coup in Cyprus in the summer of 1974, it prompted an invasion of the island by Turkey, and military rule in Greece collapsed.

As the dictatorship was crumbling, the veteran political leader Constantine Karamanlis, in self-exile in Paris, was in constant phone contact with the exiled king in London. "We had been talking throughout the day," Constantine said, "and that afternoon Karamanlis said he had been asked to go back to Athens. I said, 'By whom?' He said by people representing the junta. I said, 'Shall I come with you?' He said, 'No, let me go and see what is happening and I'll call you in the morning.'

"Of course," Constantine said, "the call never came."

Karamanlis formed a party, New Democracy, which won a resounding victory in November 1974, and then Constantine's former ally called for a referendum on the monarchy for December 8. The king was not allowed to go to Greece to campaign or to speak to the people on TV, and when the results were announced, only 31 percent of the population had voted for the king's restoration.

Having lost any hope for a return of the monarchy, the deposed king settled down in London, where he had moved in 1973. He opened an office in Mayfair and maintained contact with his supporters, who included wealthy Greek ship owners based in Britain.

In 1980, Constantine and Anne-Marie created the Hellenic College of London, where their own children were educated in both English and Greek. (After the escape from Greece and the miscarriage, Anne-Marie gave birth in Rome to Prince Nikolaos, in 1969, and then, in London, to Princess Theodora, in 1983, and Prince Philippos, in 1986.)

A devastating moment in Constantine's long exile occurred in February 1981, when his mother died, at the age of 63, in Madrid of heart failure during eyelid surgery. The Greek government announced that it would allow the former king and his family to return for only a few hours to bury her in the family cemetery at Tatoi, where Constantine and his sisters had spent idyllic summers as children.

Constantine began negotiations in 1986 with the government of Andreas Papandreou to receive a financial settlement for seized property that had belonged to the king: the 10,000-acre Tatoi estate, the royal estate of Mon Repos, on Corfu (birthplace of many royals, including Prince Philip it is now a public park and museum), and 7,500 acres of timberland in central Greece. Two years later "we reached an agreement that Papandreou was supposed to sign on a Thursday," Constantine said. "But that Wednesday he collapsed from a heart problem and was rushed to a hospital in England. Our agreement was never signed."

When Papandreou lost the election the following year, negotiations continued with the new government, and a tentative agreement was reached. But when Papandreou returned to power in 1993, he revoked that agreement. According to Costas Strongylos, a longtime friend of Constantine's and his private secretary since 1999, "Under the new law, enacted in 1994, all of the king's property was confiscated by the Greek state. The law further stated that in order for the king and his family to hold Greek passports, they had to accept the referendum abolishing the monarchy and select an ordinary last name like those used by all other Greek citizens."

The king then sued in the European Court of Human Rights, which set aside the name issue and asked for valuations of the king's properties. The government's appraisers put the value at $550 million, according to Strongylos the king's put it at $500 million. The courts handed the case to a commission of three, which decided that the former royal family would not receive either estimate the king would have to settle for 12 mil- lion euros, and his sister Irene for 900,000 euros.

The Greek government waited until the last day permitted by the ruling, then paid the king out of the country's natural disasters fund, in order to make it look as if Constantine were depleting his country's emergency resources. He countered by putting the money into the Anna-Maria Foundation, to allocate the funds back to the Greek people for use in "extraordinary natural disasters and charitable causes."

Constantine insists that he long ago accepted the rejection of the monarchy. "If the Greek people decide that they want a republic, they are entitled to have that and should be left in peace to enjoy it," he told Time in 2002. What was impossible to accept was the enforced exile. To keep Constantine and his family out of Greece, in the early 1980s the government sent an order to all consulates to deny any requests by members of the former royal family to have their passports renewed, effectively rendering them stateless persons. For a time they traveled on passports issued by the Spanish government, which listed the king's name as "Constantino de Grecia." Now he and his wife travel with Danish passports, which identify them as "H.M. King Constantine" and "H.M. Queen Anne-Marie."

The first time they ventured back to Greece after burying Queen Frederica was in 1993, when they flew into Thessaloniki, boarded a friend's yacht, and sailed down the Aegean to the wealthy Porto Heli area. Constantine remembered being "followed all the way by navy vessels, as if we were an invading force."

As the 2004 summer Olympics in Athens approached, everyone knew that the ex-king would be coming to Greece as an honorary member of the International Olympic Committee. "Ever since they created the republic through the referendum in 1974, I decided to stay away and not interfere," he said. "But as time passed, I had the feeling that they were going to use my presence at the Olympic Games to say that I was trying to come back as king. I wasn't going to have any of that. So I came back to Greece in 2003&mdashthe year before the Olympics. Everyone was taken by surprise."

When Constantine and Anne-Marie landed in Athens, "it was clear nobody realized we were on the plane. We showed the passports and suddenly they said, 'The king is in the VIP lounge!' and there was all kinds of commotion. Then I called the Greek ambassador back in London and said, 'Tell the government the king is back in Greece, and here is my itinerary. I'm going to Tatoi to have a memorial service for my parents, and then I'm going to the Pentelikon Hotel to spend the night. I will leave the next morning.' I came to show them I could come when I wanted to come, not when someone told me I could."

After the first surprise visit, the king and his family came back more often, without the excitement. But his arrival in Greece as a representative of the Olympics in the summer of 2004 was filled with irony and drew unexpected support from all points on the political spectrum. "As I approached the president, every pair of eyes were on us," Constantine remembered. "I said to the poor man, 'Mr. President, do you do rousfetia [favors]?' And he said, 'What's on your mind?' I said, 'I want you to invite my family to the palace, to see all the changes.' "

" 'Of course!' he replied. 'Just tell your secretary and mine to agree on the date.' "

That visit to what had once been the royal palace in Athens, now the presidential palace, occurred on December 24, 2004. "It was horrible!" Constantine exclaimed. "All the former bedrooms don't exist. Gone! Everything else&mdashevery room&mdashis an office. I asked him, 'How many people work here?' He told me 120. I had 13.

"Today the president has a huge amount of security, and according to the constitution the president is paid a salary and it's his money," Constantine continued. "Now the running of the presidential palace is paid for with the taxpayers' money. So are the president's telephones, heating, cars, drivers, clothes, state visits&mdashall paid for by the state. For us it was the complete opposite. We were paid X amount&mdashI think it was 7 million drachmas&mdash and I paid for my own education with an inheritance, because my father was running out of money. Part of the excuse against me was that royalty costs too much. But royalty costs so much less! Today we have, I don't know, three or four former heads of state. All of them have pensions, and so do all their police, security, drivers, and secretaries."

Through all the vicissitudes Constantine has endured over the years, the one foundation that has provided him with a sense of security is the friendship of the 14 men who, years ago, were chosen to be his fourth-grade classmates in the newly created Anavryta School. The boys had been selected through tests of their intelligence and chosen to represent all classes of Greek society. They had only alternate weekends free to go home, and if their parents could not afford the boarding fees, they were given full scholarships.

"The Anavryta School was set up in Kifissia by King Paul so that Constantine would be educated with smart Greek boys from different backgrounds," said Panayiotis Soucacos, who was one of those 14 boys and is now a professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of Athens Medical School. "It was established on the principles of German educator Kurt Hahn, who founded the Gordonstoun School in Scotland, where British royals have gone, including Prince Philip and Prince Charles. Of the 14 in the first class, 13 are still alive. All did well. Five became university professors, four in medicine [including Anagnostopoulos, a clinical professor of surgery at the Columbia University Medical Center, in New York] and one in nuclear physics. The others became successful businessmen."

Tales of Constantine's loyalty and kindness to his former classmates abound. "Constantine was not only best man at my wedding and my daughter's, he baptized two of my granddaughters, too," said Anagnostopoulos, who feels that his friend's decision to return to Greece ultimately has to do with "wanting to end his life where he began it. Constantine is happiest when he's there."

"He's homesick&mdashdown-to-the-bone homesick," said Soucacos. "Besides his family, and standing up to the junta, he's proudest of winning an Olympic gold medal for Greece. He has never thought of any other place as home."

Back in 2002, Constantine told Larry King that the only good thing about living in exile was that he had "much more time to see my children grow up." But the children have done that and gone. His youngest son, Philippos, 29, works in finance in New York, and his youngest daughter, Theodora, 31, is an actress in Hollywood (as Theodora Greece). Nikolaos, 45, is married to Tatiana Blatnik and lives in Kastri, Greece, in an apartment owned by the daughter of the king's late nemesis, Papandreou. Eldest son Pavlos, 48, married Marie-Chantal Miller, whose billionaire father, Robert Warren Miller, developed duty-free shops at airports they live with their five children in London. The eldest, Alexia, 50, is married to an architect, Carlos Morales Quintana, and they live with their four children in Spain. "My eldest grandchild turned 16 yesterday," Constantine said. "He's a diver. He's everything: a rower, a diver, a scholar. We are very lucky with our grandchildren."

Seven years ago, at the age of 68, Constantine underwent heart surgery in London&mdasha reminder of his mortality that undoubtedly fueled his desire to move home full-time. When he's in Greece he lives in Porto Heli, the seaside town he visited years ago followed by the Greek navy. According to Costas Strongylos, Constantine financed the purchase of the house by "selling his London properties for a good profit. He also made money in business deals in the Middle East."

The result is a lavish if less than royal life that does feature his other great love: the sea. "He can sail his caïque any time he wants, and he does almost every afternoon," Strongylos said. "He takes her out from three to seven, finds a quiet cove, and anchors there to swim and relax."

Near the end of our interviews, Constantine finally offered his reasons for returning. We were sitting in the Byzantino Restaurant at the Athens Hilton with Nikolaos. "Look a t ancient Greek history," he said. "All Greeks who live in exile, they want to go back. It's in the blood. Funnily enough, the one pushing hardest was my wife. I think she realized I would be happy only when I came back home."

But why, when so many others have chosen to flee, has he gone in the other direction and thrown in his lot&mdashand his own still considerable resources&mdashwith the country that revoked his birth- right? Why return to his homeland when it has been reduced to economic chaos?

In a way, his reasons for returning reflect his attitude about the future of his troubled country. History presents ample evidence of the resiliency of the Greeks. "They have seen their standard of living drop by 30 percent and unemployment soar to more than 25 percent," he said. "It's painful to see how much suffering they have endured. But the Greeks are a tough people who not only know how to enjoy life but how to endure hardship. We suffered centuries of subjugation under the Ottoman Turks, a brutal Nazi occupation, and a devastating civil war, but we bounced back to create a beautiful land to call home. Everyone must take great care not to allow our glorious country to fall into the kind of national division that brought so much misery in the past. I have faith that Greeks will face our current troubles with patience and resolve and that we will prevail."

During our conversation Constantine confided that he has already decided where he will be buried: the royal cemetery on the grounds of Tatoi. "My family doesn't like it when I talk about it, but I've chosen the spot. that part where the graves are shad- owed by blossoming hickory trees, farther down and a little to the left of my father. Facing toward the sea. "

Watch the video: 56 χρόνια από την ανακήρυξη της Κυπριακής Δημοκρατίας (July 2022).


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