On this day in 1965, Princess Alexia of Greece and Denmark was born in a house called ‘Mon Repos’ on the island of Corfu. The house had served as the 18th century home of the English Governors of Corfu and was owned by the Greek Royal Family. It was also the birthplace of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in 1921. Princess Alexia is the eldest child of Constantine II and Anne-Marie of Denmark, who were King and Queen of Greece from 1964 until the abolition of the monarchy in1973. Between her own birth and the birth of her brother (Pavlos) two years later, Alexia was the presumptive heir to the throne of the Hellenes. She was educated at the Hellenic College in London (which her parents had founded in 1980) and then at a division of the University of Surrey where she earned her BA in History and Education. One year later, she received a Post-Graduate Certificate of Education and became a primary school teacher in the inner city area of Southwark in London before moving to Barcelona where she became a teacher of children with developmental disabilities. In July of 1999, Alexia married Carlos Javier Morales Quintana, an architect and champion yachtsman. The couple has four children: Arietta, Ana Maria, Carlos, and Amelia. The family lives in the Canary Islands in a house designed by Carlos Javier.
On this day in 1965, Photis Kontoglou, the Greek writer, painter and iconographer, passed away at the age of 69. Raised by his mother and his uncle, who was an abbot in a nearby monastery in Aivali on the Aegean coast of Asia Minor, Kontoglou spent his childhood in the monastery, the sea, and among fishermen. In 1913, he enrolled in the Athens School of Fine Arts. Around the time of the outbreak of World War I, he decided to leave the School and journey through various European countries. After returning home to Asia Minor, he and the rest of the Greek inhabitants of the region were driven out of their homes. After many ordeals and hardships, Kontoglou arrived in Athens. Starting in 1923, he spent some time at Mount Athos where he discovered the technique of Byzantine iconography. In 1923, he became the curator of Byzantine Icons at the Byzantine Museum of Athens and two years later, he was appointed as Professor of Art History and Painting at the American College. Kontoglou is most famous for his painting and church iconography (including the Kapnikarea Church in Athens, the monumental fresco of the Ecumenical Patriarchs of Constantinople, and the Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity in Charleston, South Carolina). According to Nikos Zias, a professor of the history of art in the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Kontoglou managed to “shake the pond waters of the immutable prosperity of the interwar period and shaped the Greek national consciousness.”
On this day in 1974, the Greek junta sponsored a coup d’etat by Greek army officers in Nicosia seeking to achieve ‘enosis’ a/k/a union with Greece. President Makarios III was overthrown and fled to England. He was replaced with Nikos Sampson – for two days. Five days later, Turkey, concerned about the imminent possibility of a unified Greece and Cyprus, sent in its troops with the supposed aim of protecting the Turkish Cypriot community and realized is long-time plan to partition the island. The Turkish Cypriots occupied the northern third of the island, while the Greek Cypriot community held the southern sector. The Greeks of the island angrily condemned Turkey’s illegal occupation, while Ankara claimed the Turk Cypriots welcomed the protection offered by the troops. The coup on Cyprus quickly dissolved and Greece’s military junta collapsed. Reunification talks between the two communities have occurred on more than one occasion, but as we all know, nothing has come to fruition as of yet. The Republic of Cyprus became a member of the EU in 2004.