This Week in Greek History: Alexander Takes the Throne in 1917

One of the most unusual eras in Greek monarchical history took place 97 years ago this week.

King Constantine I and his oldest son, Crown Prince George, were pushed into exile by the Entente of France, Great Britain, and Russia, and supporters of Eleftherios Venizelos, thus leaving the throne to his son Alexander.

As the New York Times reported, “the deposed monarch’s proclamation announcing his June 11, 1917 abdication was posted throughout the streets of the capital. It read: ‘Obeying the necessity of fulfilling my duty toward Greece, I am departing from my beloved country with the heir to the throne and am leaving my son Alexander my crown. I beg you to accept my decision with calm, as the slightest incident may lead to a great catastrophe.”

The Times also reported that the Entente powers counted on the new king, Alexander, to join them against the Central Powers (Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, Germany, and the Ottoman Empire) as World War I endured. The United States had joined the Allies in the War only two months earlier, and played an instrumental role in the Allied victory a year later, in 1918.
As the Times reported, following Constantine’s abdication, Greece announced “with great sorrow that the King, under pressure of supreme political necessity, following the steps taken by three of the great powers, was obliged to leave Greece, accompanied by Queen Sophia and the Crown Prince George, leaving on the throne his son, Prince Alexander.”

The Venizelists eventually stripped Alexander of any real power, and even imprisoned him in his own palace, events which led him to be known as the “puppet king.”

In a bizarre ending to his brief life, Alexander caused great controversy when he married a non-royal, Aspasia Manos, and left Greece for a few months until things simmered.
Upon his return, he was bitten by a monkey, and died soon thereafter, on October 25, 1920, at age 27.