Wednesday 24 May 2006

Queen Margrethe & Prince Henrik arrive in Athens

The State Visit to Greece by the regent couple has begun. There is some interesting background to this visit.

Queen Margrethe and Henrik, the Prince Consort, have arrived at the port of Piræus on the royal yacht Dannebrog. The royal couple has met President Papoulias on arrival. Because of the history of the Greek royal family, not all of Greece's politicians wish to meet the Danish guests. The Communist Party, for example, object to royalty on principle. The well-known leader of the Socialist Party, Andreas Papandreou, has also declined the invitation to meet the Queen and Prince Henrik and sent his apologies. The Communist Party and Socialist Party both had a strained relationship with Queen Margrethe's brother-in-law Konstantin (Constantine) when he was king until 1967.

Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik have been invited by Greek President Karolos Papoulias in a gesture which will break a little ice because of the connection with the Greek royal family through Queen Anne-Marie. Queen Margrethe attended the Athens Olympics in 2004 with other members of Denmark's royal family and is of course the older sister of Queen Anne-Marie. Anne-Marie, aged 18, married Greece's King Constantine in 1964 in Athens. Constantine and Anne-Marie went into exile in London after the Greek monarchy was abolished a decade later.

TV 2 reports that with Greece's socialist president receiving Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik in the former royal castle in Athens this week, there will be a thaw in 40 years of cool diplomatic relations between Denmark and Greece. There has been no official royal visit since Constantine and Anne-Marie fled Greece in 1967.
Although Queen Margrethe and Denmark have a good image in Greece there will be minimal interest in the royals and therefore also little media coverage. The Danish royals' visit is likely to be as restrained as the recent visit by the Spanish royal couple (Queen Sofia is Constantine's sister), says Stathis Efstathiadis from the newspaper To Vima.
The family connection with Constantine and Anne-Marie is unlikely to provoke much reaction in Greece, because Greeks have put the monarchy behind them long ago. The angry memories about previous monarchs and the period of the Junta, plus the objectionable role many believe Constantine played, are apparently long forgotten.
While Constantine and Anne-Marie are referred to as king and queen in Denmark, Greeks dismissed their titles long ago along with the abolition of the monarchy.

TV 2 'The Queen arrives in Athens'
B.T. 'The Queen has arrived in Athens'
DR: Constantine II - Former King of Greece
DR: Anne-Marie - Former Queen of Greece
The Danish Monarchy/Queen Anne-Marie
The Greek Royal Family
The Greek Royal Family/historical archive
History of the Greek Royal Family by Lisa May Davidson on Christine's

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