This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "Greek royal family" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (April 2016) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

The Greek royal family (Greek: Ελληνική Βασιλική Οικογένεια) is a branch of the Danish royal family, itself a branch of the House of Glücksburg, that reigned in Greece from 1863 to 1924 and again from 1935 to 1973. Its first monarch was George I, the second son of King Christian IX of Denmark.[1]


The personal standard of the Kings of Greece.
The personal standard of the Kings of Greece.

After the overthrow in 1862 of the first king of the independent Greek state, Otto of Bavaria, a plebiscite in Greece was initiated on 19 November 1862,[note 1] with the results announced in February the following year,[note 2] in support of adopting Prince Alfred of the United Kingdom, later Duke of Edinburgh, to reign as king of the country.[2] The candidacy of Prince Alfred was rejected by the Great Powers. The London Conference of 1832 had prohibited any of the Great Powers' ruling families from accepting the crown of Greece, while Queen Victoria was opposed to such a prospect.[3]

A search for other candidates ensued, and eventually, Prince William of Denmark, of the House of Glücksburg, the second son of King Christian IX and younger brother of the new Princess of Wales, was appointed king. The Greek Parliament unanimously approved on 18 March 1863[note 3] the ascension to the Greek throne of the prince, then aged 17, as King of the Hellenes under the regnal name of George I.[4] George arrived in Greece in October 1863.[4]


George I married Grand Duchess Olga Constaninovna of Russia, and they had seven surviving children. After a reign of almost fifty years, George I was succeeded by his eldest son, Constantine I, who had married, in 1913, Princess Sophia of Prussia, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria and sister of Kaiser Wilhelm II. In turn, all three of Constantine's sons, George II, Alexander and Paul, would occupy the throne.

The dynasty reigned in Greece during the Balkan Wars, World War I, World War II (during which Greece experienced occupation by the Axis), the Greek Civil War, and the Greek military junta of 1967–1974.

Following the National Schism during World War I and the subsequent Asia Minor Disaster, the monarchy was deposed in March 1924 and replaced by the Second Hellenic Republic. Between 1924 and 1935 there were twenty-three changes of government in Greece, a dictatorship, and thirteen coups d'etat. In October 1935, General Georgios Kondylis, a former Venizelist, overthrew the government and arranged for a plebiscite to end the republic. On 3 November 1935, the official tally showed that 98% of the votes supported the restoration of the monarchy.[4] The balloting was not secret, and participation was compulsory. As Time described it at the time, "As a voter, one could drop into the ballot box a blue vote for George II, or one could cast a red ballot for the Republic."[5] George II returned to the Greek throne on 25 November 1935.

On 4 August 1936, the king endorsed the establishment of a government led by veteran army officer Ioannis Metaxas.[6]

George II followed the Greek government in exile after the German invasion of Greece in 1941 and returned to Greece in 1946, after a referendum that resulted in the maintaining of the constitutional monarchy. He died in 1947 and was succeeded by his brother Paul. The new king reigned from the time of Greek civil war until his death in 1964, and was succeeded by his son, Constantine II.


On 21 April 1967, the elected government of Greece was overthrown by a group of middle-ranking army officers led by Colonel Georgios Papadopoulos, and a military dictatorship was established. The military junta formed a new government that was sworn in by Constantine II. On 13 December 1967, the king launched a counter-coup that failed[7] and he, together with his family, fled to Rome and soon after to London.

The dictatorship nominally retained the monarchy but on 1 June 1973, Constantine II was declared "deposed" and Papadopoulos appointed himself "President of the Republic". Some two months later, on 29 July 1973, the military regime held a referendum the official result of which confirmed, according to the junta, the abolition of the monarchy.

After July 1974, the dictatorship fell. The military handed power over to Konstantinos Karamanlis, a conservative[note 4] politician who had been prime minister in the 1950s and early 60s. Karamanlis formed a "government of national unity" and held a constitutional referendum on 8 December 1974. The voters confirmed the abolition of the monarchy by a vote of 69% to 31% and the establishment of a parliamentary democracy in Greece.

Current status

In 2013, after being declared personae non gratae in the 1980s, having the palaces of the family and other estates expropriated in 1994, and then their passports annulled, Constantine and his wife Anne-Marie were once again living in Greece.[8]

Royal coat of arms

Greater royal arms since 1936
Greater royal arms since 1936

The royal coat of arms still used by the royal family is a blue shield with the white cross of Greece with the greater coat of arms of Denmark of 1819-1903 in the centre. This was consequently also the arms of Denmark when the Danish prince William accepted the Greek throne as King George I. As such this includes the three lions of the arms of Denmark proper, the two lions of Schleswig, the three crowns of the former Kalmar Union, the stockfish of Iceland, the ram of Faroe Islands, the polar bear of Greenland, the lion and hearts of the King of the Goths, the wyvern of the King of the Wends, the nettle leaf of Holstein, the swan with a crown of Stormarn, the knight on horseback of Dithmarschen, the horse head of Lauenburg, the two red bars of the House of Oldenburg and the yellow cross of Delmenhorst. The same shield is in the personal standard of the Kings of Greece. The shield is surmounted by two figures of Heracles,[9] similar to the "wild men" of the Coat of arms of Denmark. The shield also has the Order of the Redeemer, while the royal motto reads " Ἰσχύς μου ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ λαοῦ" ("The people's love is my strength").

Dynastic lineage

As male-line descendants of King Christian IX of Denmark, members of the dynasty bear the title of Prince or Princess of Denmark and thus are traditionally referred to as "Princes" or "Princesses of Greece and Denmark".[10]


The extended members of the Greek royal family are:

Family tree of members

See also: Kings of the Hellenes family tree

This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (March 2018) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
King George IQueen Olga
King Constantine IQueen SophiaPrince ChristopherPrincess Françoise
Queen FredericaKing PavlosMarina, consort of Prince Michael*Prince Michael*
Queen Sofía of Spain*The KingThe QueenPrincess Irene*Princess Alexandra, Mrs. Mirzayantz*The Duchess of Apulia*
Princess Alexia, Mrs. MoralesThe Crown PrinceThe Crown PrincessPrince NikolaosPrincess TatianaPrincess TheodoraPrince PhilipposPrincess Nina
Princess OlympiaPrince ConstantinePrince AchileasPrince OdysseasPrince Aristidis

* Member of the extended royal family

See also


  1. ^ 1 December in the New Style
  2. ^ March in the New Style
  3. ^ 30 March in the New Style
  4. ^ See: People's Party; National Radical Union


  1. ^ "Greece:The Rise of Nationalism". MSN Encarta Online Encyclopedia. Archived from the original on 2 November 2009. Retrieved 1 August 2006.
  2. ^ "Constitutional History". Hellenic Parliament. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
  3. ^ Clogg, Richard (1979). A Short History of Modern Greece. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521295178.
  4. ^ a b c Van der Kiste, John (1994). Kings of the Hellenes. Stroud, Gloucestershire: Sutton Publishing. ISBN 0-7509-0525-5.
  5. ^ "By the Grace of God", Time, 18 November 1935
  6. ^ "Italy Tried to Invade Greece in World War II: It Was a Disaster", The National Interest, 28 July 2017
  7. ^ "Greece : Aftermath of the Civil War". MSN Encarta Online Encyclopedia. Archived from the original on 31 October 2009. Retrieved 1 August 2006.
  8. ^ "Greece's former king goes home after 46-year exile" by Helena Smith, The Guardian, 15 December 2013
  9. ^ Ἑφημερίς τῆς Κυβερνήσεως τοῦ Βασιλείου τῆς Ἑλλάδος [Government Gazette of the Kingdom of Greece] (PDF) (in Greek), Athens: National Printing Office, 28 December 1863
  10. ^ Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels, Fürstliche Häuser XV, C.A. Starke Verlag, 1997, p.20.