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HMKC-portraitHM King Constantine, only son of King Paul I and Queen Frederica, was born on 2 June, 1940, at Villa Psychiko, Athens.

Soon after his birth, the Royal Family left Athens and went to Crete where they were caught in the Nazi invasion. The family was under threat of capture by the German Army. So King George II instructed his brother Crown Prince Paul and his family to leave for Alexandria, while he stayed behind and fought throughout the Battle of Crete with the Greek, British, Australian and New Zealand Armies - eventually escaping across the mountains.

From Alexandria, Prince Constantine's family moved to Capetown in South Africa, to live in the 'Grooteschuur House' of the South African Prime Minister, Jan Christian Smuts. King Constantine's first memories are of holding the hand of the South African leader and chasing a cow off a bed of tall flowers across the well-manicured lawns.

His younger sister, Princess Irene was born in South Africa on 11 May, 1942.

The Royal Family returned to Alexandria, where Constantine remembers talking fluent Arabic with those working for the family.

After World War II, Greece was in turmoil. In 1946, after a General Election, a Referendum was held and King George II and the family returned.

King George II died in 1947 and Constantine's father, King Paul I, ascended the throne. As Crown Prince, Constantine attended the funeral of his Uncle King George II, holding his father's hand in the procession.

From 1949, Crown Prince Constantine attended Anavryta High School in Athens - a school based on the educational principles of Professor Kurt Hahn and modelled on Hahn's own creation, Salem School in Germany (like Gordonstoun in Scotland).

King Constantine says that he loved the camaraderie of boarding school, and associating with other children - most of whom have become lifelong friends. His class (now bankers, businessmen, professors and doctors) meets for a reunion every year. He was good at sport (hockey, volleyball, high jump) and became Head Boy. He acted in school plays, and remembers playing Mark Anthony in Shakespeare's 'Julius Caesar' (he can still quote large sections of the play).

During his time at the school, he had military training every weekend and, after school, attended the three military academies - the army, navy and air force. On his 18th birthday, as the only son of his parents, he took an oath of allegiance in each of the armed forces.

In 1960, he became the first Greek to win an Olympic Gold Medal since 1912. He achieved this in Sailing (Dragon Class) as helmsman on the 'Nereus' in the Bay of Naples.

His sister Sofia (now Queen of Spain) was a member of the substitute crew, but trained as intensively as her brother. On his return, he received a public welcome in Athens.

In 1960, Constantine went to Athens University to study Law. He also visited the USA to see military and industrial establishments.

During these school years, he attended many State visits with King Paul and Queen Frederica - Italy, UK, West Germany, Lebanon, Ethiopia, India, Thailand.

He met World leaders, including President Tito of Yugoslavia - when he had an early lesson in diplomacy. He was challenged to a game of chess by Tito, and found himself in a winning position in the third, deciding game. His father, King Paul, nudged him under the table to make sure that he understood that he was expected to lose.

On 6 March 1964, King Paul I died, and King Constantine succeeded him as King of Greece.

Later that year, he married Princess Anne-Marie, youngest daughter of King Frederick IX of Denmark. He had first met her in 1959, when he visited Copenhagen on a journey to Sweden and Norway, as Crown Prince. He proposed during a sailing holiday in Norway, and they married in Athens on 18 September 1964.

Their first child, Princess Alexia, was born on 10 July 1965 at a house called 'Mon Repos' in Corfu (where the Duke of Edinburgh was born in 1921). Crown Prince Pavlos was born on 20 May 1967, Prince Nikolaos on 1 October 1969, Princess Theodora on 9 June 1983 and Prince Philippos on 26 April 1986.

After his accession to the throne, King Constantine was faced with a challenging internal situation. There were riots in the hot days of July 1965 after the resignation of Papandreou as Prime Minister.

Just before elections were due to be held in May 1967, there was a 'coup d'etat' by Army Colonels. King Constantine was faced with conflicting pressures, but always put the safety of the people at the top of his agenda.

On a visit to the USA he was quoted as saying 'This is not my Government, the 21st of April was the worst day of my life'. Serious tensions arose with Turkey.

In December 1967, King Constantine went to Kavalla, in the north of Greece, to lead an attempt to overthrow the military junta in order to restore democracy.

He soon recognised that any further action could result in bloodshed, so left with his family for Rome, where he lived until 1973.

Frequent requests were made to the King to return, but he refused to do so unless democracy was first restored.

On 1 June 1973, King Constantine was formally deposed by Papadopoulos, leader of the coup, and a Republic declared.

In 1974, Karamanlis returned from Paris to form a civil government. A Referendum on the monarchy was held in December 1974. The King was not allowed to return to Greece to campaign (and did not have an official party to represent him), but he received over 30% of the popular vote - which was an exceptional accomplishment.

During 1973, King Constantine flew regularly from Rome to Cambridge to attend a course in political history at the University.

The following year, he and his family moved to England - where they have lived ever since. After a short period in Chobham, Surrey, he settled in Hampstead, on the northern heights of London.

In 1980, along with his wife and members of the Greek community of London, he founded a Greek school. The Hellenic College of London continues to enjoy success as a school with students ranging from four to eighteen years of age. It is the first school in 120 years to offer a bilingual Greek-British education in London. The royal couple are still actively involved in the running of the College.

In 1981, King Constantine returned to Greece with his family for a few hours to attend the funeral of his mother, Queen Frederica, at the family estate in Tatoi. She had died suddenly of a heart attack in Madrid. A security ring was placed around Tatoi to prevent people from coming to the funeral. Nevertheless, thousands of people managed to assemble at the Paleocastro pinewoods to greet the family and pay their last respects.

King Constantine returned to Greece again, on a private two-week visit in 1993, with his family. They were touched by the spontaneous outpouring of affection they received from enthusiastic crowds wherever they went. He found it a very emotional experience. The Government had 'covered' the boat in which he was travelling around the coast, with torpedo boats and aeroplanes.

In 1994, the Greek Government passed a law which expropriated his property and revoked his citizenship. The Royal Family was eventually vindicated as regards to the confiscation of their property by the European Court of Human Rights, in December 2000. The court case persisted for another two years, as the Greek government refused to return the property and opted for compensation. King Constantine used his share of the compensation to establish the Anna-Maria Foundation, aiming to support communities in Greece, which have suffered from natural disasters (the Greek government drew the sum of the compensation from the allocation for natural disasters).

The latter part of the '94 law, -regarding the Royal Family's nationality-, has not been dealt with in court, as the former King does not accept being told he is not Greek. The Royal Family hopes that the issue will soon be resolved.

As soon as the court case concluded, King Constantine and his family returned to Greece and are currently seeking for a permanent residence in their homeland. The former King spends much of his time keeping in close touch with the Greek people. He receives over 140,000 letters a year.

He is Patron and Chairman of Round Square - a global organization of schools affiliated to the educational principles of Kurt Hahn. The association consists of 53 schools, all of which work to achieve a greater international understanding between young people across continents.

He has Prince Andrew, Sonya Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Kevan Gosper as patrons of this organisation. He meets regularly with the Patrons and the Heads of all the schools. The aim is to ensure that young people grow up with knowledge and understanding of what others (with different perspectives and experience) think.

King Constantine still sails whenever his busy schedule permits. He is President of Honour of the International Sailing Federation - a position he shares with HM King Harald of Norway. He is an Honorary Member of the International Olympic Committee.

King Constantine is a devout member of the Orthodox Church, enjoys classical music (opera and ballet), spending time with his grandchildren and re-visiting favourite places in Greece with his family.