Now that the dust has settled from the hoopla of King Charles III’s coronation, is it time, perhaps, for the Greek nation to consider a return to constitutional monarchy? Is it time to correct a pettiness that included designating Greece’s last king as persona non grata; expropriating the royal family’s estates in 1994; and annulling their passports? This pettiness, extended to denying its former king a state burial in 2023, was on display for so many reigning foreign heads of state who attended Constantine II’s funeral. Observers would note that those actions smacked of a third world nation.
Most may ask, “what’s in it for me?” should monarchy be restored to Greece. I suggest: stability, legitimacy, tourism, greater prosperity. Look at the family of nations of modern Europe – Spain, Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Andorra, United Kingdom, Lichtenstein, Monaco – all prosperous constitutional monarchies. Need any more evidence? Portugal – once a superpower – chucked its monarchy in 1910 and got in return Third World status until lifted by EEC membership.
Constitutional monarchies in Europe tend to be both stable and to confer legitimacy to the governmental system. In Europe there is the added benefit of most of the ruling monarchs having familial links to one another, which binds these nations together to an extent that goes beyond European Union and NATO membership. Looking further afield, both Egypt and Iraq abolished their monarchies. The payback? Constant instability. Contrast them with the stability Jordan’s monarchy brings that nation. Some would remark, “but we are not Egypt or Iraq” – this writer would caution, however: never take national stability for granted.
Nearly 19 million Brits watched Charles III’s coronation and were joined by about 11 million Americans with countless viewers around the world. How many watched the investiture of Greece’s president? Indeed, how many people around the globe could even name the President of Greece? One of the underpinnings of tourism for England is its monarchy; Brand Finance has estimated that the monarchy’s brand contributes 2.5 Billion pounds annually to the British economy.
Which is the most desirable city in the world for the rich to wish to purchase a residence? Most would agree that it is London. So, a constitutional monarchy, one could argue, is an ingredient for prosperity – witness too the other constitutional monarchies listed earlier in this essay.
Greece supports a ‘monarchy’ of sorts in its Greek President elected to a five-year term by Parliament. Parliamentary systems require a head of state – the only choice is between a presidency and a monarch. The Greek taxpayer funds Greece’s president residing in the ‘Proedriko Megaro’ (built 1897) – on seven acres – located on Herodou Attikou Street in Athens Centre and a Presidential Guard. By Presidential Decree n. 351/91, the Greek nation funds and staffs within the Presidency the following offices: Press; Public Relations; Legal Affairs; Diplomatic; Military; Administrative; and Financial Affairs.
Greece’s last king was Constantine II; he had succeeded to the throne upon the death of his father Paul I in 1964. His family ruled Greece on and off since the overthrow in 1862 of Greece’s first king, Otto of Bavaria. The monarchy was made a scapegoat for the failure of the ‘Megali Idea’ and Greece declared a republic in 1924 which lasted until the monarchy was restored in 1935. With the Nazi invasion, the royal family was forced to flee to Egypt. In 1946, 69 percent of voters approved a referendum on maintaining the monarchy. The monarchy was again abolished by a referendum in 1973 with a referendum in 1974 confirming the results of the previous year. Many nations have found scapegoats when things did not go well – Nazis had their Jews; Turks had their Greeks and Armenians, and regrettably Greeks had their monarchy.
Crown Prince Pavlos (b. 1967) of Greece might just fit the bill as Greece’s next monarch. He heads the Greek royal family upon the death of his father on January 10, 2023. Married to American heiress Marie-Chantal Miller after which the couple took up residence in Greenwich, Connecticut, the issue of this marriage is five children. Also a Danish prince, Pavlos was trained at Sandhurst after which he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards.
Only the Greek people can decide whether it is time to restore Greece’s monarchy.
A note of caution: according to the World Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders, Greece ranked last among EU nations in 2023 – for a second year in a row; Greece ranks 107th in the world for press freedom. Don’t expect a free and healthy debate about such a contentious issue under these circumstances.
Nicholas Kalis (Kallivroussis) is a real estate executive (www.kaliscompanies.com with a JD from Antonin Scalia Law School and a Master’s of International Affairs (1979) from Columbia University. The Institute of Balkan Studies awarded Nicholas a full scholarship to study at its Summer Program in Thessaloniki. His family hails from Andros.