The history books are filled with ancient tales of royals who were banished from their kingdoms. In the turbulent times of the medieval period, claims to the throne were often the subject of violent disputes or invasion from foreign forces, It was not unusual for kings and queens to have their monarchies overthrown and then become exiled from their own domains.
In modern times, the few remaining monarchies of the world are generally more stable, with many of the contemporary royal family lines succeeding to throne generation after generation without conflict or revolution.
Despite the relative stability of modern monarchies, however, there are still some tales of contemporary royals who have been removed from their throne and banished to another country.
Perhaps the most famous example of a modern monarch being banished from their kingdom is the story of King Edward VIII, the British king who gave up the throne for the woman he loved and spent the rest of his life in a form of exile from Britain, living quietly in France.
It could be argued that the former King of England voluntarily gave up his throne, but there are also occasions when modern monarchs have their royal status evoked by civil unrest or seismic political shifts that spell the end, not only of their role as sovereign but of the entire system of monarchy. This is precisely what happened in the twentieth-century history of the Greek monarchy.
The Crown Prince Of Greece – A Modern Royal Exile
Pavlos, Crown Prince of Greece, was born in 1967, the eldest son of the King of Greece. As such, he was expected to inherit the throne as the natural heir to the Kingdom of Greece. Pavlos is actually a double Prince – inheriting the status of Prince both from his father, King of Greece, and as a descendant of Christian IX of Denmark.
In another time, this twofold princely status may have secured a royal life akin to his ancestors – that of ascending to the throne and spending his years as king and sovereign ruler of the country of his forebears. Fate had other plans for Pavlos, however, and today he lives in a modern royal exile, effectively banished from his native Greece and the kingdom he would have inherited if the political winds had blown in his favor.
The Last King Of Greece
Despite being born the Crown Prince of Greece, the path to the Greek throne was not destined to be as straightforward for Pavlos as it had been for his father Constantine II – the last King of Greece – though the elder king himself had endured some royal turbulence, having been forced into exile during World War II.
King Constantine did ultimately return to the throne after the war, however, and reigned over his native land of Greece from a young age, being only 23 years old when he was crowned king in 1964. In addition to his new status as King of Greece, the young Constantine also proved his excellence in the realm of sport – becoming an Olympic champion and gold medallist for sailing.
These days of triumph were not to last, however, and political dissent soon began to cloud the future of both King Constantine II and his son, Pavlos, the Crown Prince.
A Royal Coup & The Abolition Of A Monarchy
After less than a decade on the Greek throne, King Constantine’s place as the sovereign ruler of Greece was in jeopardy. A military coup led to the king and his family being deposed from their position, and ultimately exiled from their country.
By 1973, not only had the former king been removed from the throne, the monarchy itself had been abolished. In a public referendum, the people of Greece voted overwhelmingly in favor of the abolition of the monarchy.
The last king of Greece fled from his kingdom with his family, including the Crown Prince, Pavlos. The royal family did not return to Greece for a number of years, living in exile in neighboring European countries, for a time with their relations in the Danish royal family, and later in London.
The Greek royal family not only lost their status as a result of the coup and the abolition of the monarchy, they also lost their homes, including their palatial properties and some of their royal assets. These losses resulted in legal disputes that also impacted the roles and reputations of the former royal family, both in Greece and around the world.
21st Century Royals Banished From Their Kingdom
After the tumultuous upheaval of the Greek monarchy in the later years of the 20th-century, the royal exiles now enjoy a relative calm after the royal drama of their banishment. King Constantine has spent many years in London where he is close friends with various members of the British royal family, including his second cousin Prince Charles.
The former king has found a peace of sorts with his exile and the loss of his kingdom, reportedly stating that the Greek people should be allowed to enjoy a republic if that is what they would prefer. The Greek nation also welcomed their erstwhile monarch to enjoy the Olympic Games in Athens in 2014, a short time after he had finally returned to make Greece his home along with his wife, the former queen of Greece, Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark.
Their son, Pavlos, the former Crown Prince of Greece, remains in exile, however, having lived variously in Denmark, America and the UK. After marrying a British heiress in 1995, the couple moved to America and Pavlos established a career in finance and consultancy. Today the couple are based mainly in London, and with their five children, they enjoy a quiet role in royal circles and the elite social realms of both America and the UK.
The histories and traditions of monarchies are vast and complex, and they are not immune to the shifting political landscapes and social upheavals. Though the modern royals are largely safe from the violent revolutions and deadly depositions of the past, the changes to the monarchy of Greece are evidence that even royal status is no guarantee of a predictable future.