Obituary for A Bumbling Anti-Democrat

Greece’s deposed King Constantine Glücksburg. Image credit: Yiannis Panagopoulos for Eurokinissi

In a rather odd move for this blog, I decided to make an exception and blog about RL politics this time. You see, this is pretty big news for my country: the man in question was a highly polarising individual who, in keeping with his dynasty’s tradition, sabotaged every attempt at making the country and its governance more democratic, open, and liberal. Yet, and this is what many will find surprising, he and his dynasty still have a certain, and very vocal, following.

The “journalists” of glamour (read: gossip) and lifestyle media in RL are known for their tendency to act as fluffers and lapdogs for royal families. If you believe their gospel, the King or Queen is the bee’s knees; and if the King or Queen has been deposed, then they’ll run daily propaganda features trying to reinstate him / her or promote his / her offspring as valid political future political figures. Deposed King Constantine Glücksburg, formerly doing business as Constantine II of Greece and unlovingly known as “Cocós”, who died on the night of 10 January 2022, was no exception.

In an audacious display of entitlement, his children are pressuring the government to give him a state funeral; the tabloids and the nationalist rags will mourn his passing and exaggerate his alleged greatness; the mainstream (i.e. corporate) journalists will pay their respects to the deceased “statesman,” and the few voices that stand for democracy will be pigeonholed as “petty”. Being called “petty” by brown-nosed sycophants is actually an honour for me, so I shall pull no punches w.r.t. the bipedal disgrace that my parents – and many others – called their King.

First, a little bit of Greek political history. Greece was founded in 1822 as the Fist Hellenic Republic and, when an underage Bavarian mediocrity was installed as its first King, was rebranded as the Kingdom of Greece; in 1974, after the disgraceful fall of a US-backed military dictatorship that run the shop for seven disgusting years and even supported domestic fascist terrorism in Italy, the monarchy was abolished by plebiscite. Since then, Greece is a Unitary Parliamentary Republic. Up until now, Greece has had more than one hundred and fifty Prime Ministers, including the provisional ones. Of course, this office was a bit of a musical chairs game played by a small number of politicians. As for the governments’ lifespan, many were very short-lived: 3-4 months.

The palace made sure that Greece was kept in a state of political turmoil. Monarchs could appoint anyone they wanted and from the very beginning most governments tried to stay on the palace’s good side. As the supreme, unelected, official, the King enjoyed an almost metaphysical aura that transpired into an authoritarian rule that was also quite lucrative. You see, the palace soon became the centre of all major economic scandals and corruption cases. Kings could profiteer on anything they wanted, without answering to anyone. Prime Minister Charilaos Trikoupis resigned in 1895 not only because the taxes he proposed to combat the country’s bankruptcy were unpopular, but also because King George I was speculating on the new loan that was about to be signed between Greece and the Great Powers (England, France, Russia).

This utter lack of accountability makes it impossible for anyone to know how much money the Glücksburg dynasty made off Greece. Queen mother Frederica of Hanover[1] (a proud Hitlerjugend[2] member in her youth) profited from the Royal National Foundation in various ways: for instance, if you bought a pack of cigarettes, you’d be charged for two extra cigarettes, supposedly to “support the families of soldiers killed in action in the Civil War; until 1956, half this extra charge would go to the Royal National Foundation. After 1956, the RNF would get all of that money.

The RNF was also taking 20% of the import taxes for various goods, as well as 20% from a 1948 tax imposed on industries, small, medium, and large. And 10% of tickets for various spectacles (theatre, cinema, music concerts, etc.) went to the RNF.[3] By the end of the 1960s, the RNF was raking in approximately six hundred (600) million drachmas per year, at a time when the minimum wage was one thousand (1000) drachmas per month. The palace also made money from other activities, some shadier than others. Of course, since the conservative party was embedded in the palace, they granted each other full immunity for their own shady dealings.

When King Paul died, Frederica surpassed everything people knew and / or suspected about the palace’s corruption. First of all, she had left-wing politician Grigoris Lambrakis,[4] whom she despised, murdered. Konstantinos Karamanlis,[5] who was Prime Minister at the time, outraged, said “who’s running this place?” – quite the rhetorical question.

Cocós, who had been marketed to the populace as a veritable, if inexperienced, brash, well-natured and often bumbling playboy, continued the Glücksburg family tradition of meddling in the country’s political matters. He never liked the increasing popularity of Georgios Papandreou.[6] Papandreou was devoutly centrist and a staunch anti-communist. He also was not a leftist by any stretch of the word. But he was not part of the royal clique, so he had to be overthrown.

That was the time when the palace and the right wing embarked on a fear-mongering campaign about an alleged conspiracy called “ASPIDA” (“shield”). According to the conspiracy theory, “progressive” military officers, backed by Georgios and his son, who would become PM in 1981, Andreas Papandreou,[7] were trying to gain control of the armed forces. Of course, as is the case with all right-wing moral panics and scaremongering campaigns, it was all a made-up story to embark on more persecutions.

When PM George Papandreou asked for the competence and authority to appoint the Defence Minister, something that would go without saying in any democracy, the young King refused. Papandreou resigned orally and, before his formal, written resignation had been submitted to the palace, Cocós had appointed the first Apostate government,[8] in whose ranks an extremely controversial and overrated Cretan politician named Konstantinos Mitsotakis[9] was included – naturally. This led to a period of instability and turmoil, until 1967.

A cartoon by Spyros Ornerakis, celebrating the abolition of the monarchy – it shows a cheeky boy wearing a red sleeveless shirt, peeing in the upturned crown in front of him. The text under the crown reads “NO, voted the People… They condemned the lie… And rightly the boy pees in the crown.”

Cocós, backed by the US Stated Department, participated in the organisation of a military coup d’état, which would supposedly “solve the political gordian knot.” He came too late, though: a group of colonels, led by former Security Battalion[10] (i.e. collaborationist, i.e. pro-nazi and guilty of high treason) member Georgios Papadopoulos,[11] beat him to it and installed the 1967 junta.[12] Now, the colonels had no intention of going on a head-on collision course with the King. After all, it was a case of “pot, meet kettle:” true to Glücksburg tradition, the King was not concerned with the protection of democratic rule in Greece. He only wanted to have a government of puppets that he could use to give him immunity and lots of money.

So, in December 1967, encouraged by none other than Lyndon B. Johnson, Cocós attempted a… counter-“revolution” to the “revolution” – actually, a counter-coup.[13] This farce started when the King sent Lieutenant General Ioannis Manettas to hand General of the Army Odysseas Angelis a letter with which the King demanded that leadership of the military be transferred to Manettas. Of course, Angelis arrested Manettas on the spot, informed the rest of the dictatorship’s leaders, and things ended there.

The Colonels got seriously pissed off at the King and sent him packing. Following that, they appointed General Georgios Zoitakis[14] as Regent. In 1973, a new revolt in the Navy was organised,[15] but it was quelled one day before it started, and one of the officers involved, Spyros Moustaklis,[16] was brutally tortured and left crippled and broken for the rest of his life. The fact that Moustaklis was a royalist made the dictators suspect the King, and declared Greece a presidential republic after a plebiscite. Surprisingly enough, the monarchy was unpopular enough by that time, and they didn’t need to rig it (the 1961 elections were so rigged that, it spawned the saying “even the trees voted”). Had Cocós not been so meddlesome and woefully inept, perhaps monarchy could have survived.

After the junta fell for good and democracy was restored, a new plebiscite was held, not recognising the one of the dictators. In this plebiscite, royalists like Mitsotakis were soundly defeated. Even though he said he’d respect the result of the popular vote, he actually did not. He still plotted to “neutralise” Karamanlis, who had become Prime Minister again.[17] And by “neutralise”, I think you know what I mean. Anyway, his new plot to overthrow the newly-founded Republic was foiled, and Cocós remained abroad until 1993, when, with a Mitsotakis-led government, he came as a common burglar and took from the Tatoi palace what he couldn’t grab in 1967.

Democrats in Greece certainly shall not mourn or miss Cocós, his kitschy, entitled family, or his anachronistic, anti-democratic cadre. Sadly, his propaganda machine, with the blessing of the conservative and far-right parties and with financial backing from his family and various unscrupulous media lords specialising in gossip rags, remained active to this day, poisoning the public discourse with disinformation.

[1] Frederica of Hanover – Wikipedia

[2] Hitler Youth (Hitlerjugend) – Wikipedia

[3] Βασιλικό Παρακράτος Πρόνοιας (Royal Welfare Deep-State – Article in Greek) – IosPress, 15/12/2002

[4] Grigoris Lambrakis – Wikipedia

[5] Konstantinos Karamanlis – Wikipedia

[6] Georgios Papandreou – Wikipedia

[7] Andreas Papandreou – Wikipedia

[8] Apostasia of 1965 – Wikipedia

[9] Konstantinos Mitsotakis – Wikipedia

[10] Security Battalions – Wikipedia

[11] Georgios Papadopoulos – Wikipedia

[12] Greek Junta – Wikipedia

[13] King’s counter-coup – Wikipedia

[14] Georgios Zoitakis – Wikipedia

[15] The Velos Mutiny – Wikipedia

[16] Spyros Moustaklis – Wikipedia

[17] Οταν ο τέως βασιλιάς συνωμοτούσε για την «εξουδετέρωση του Καραμανλή» (When the former king plotted for the “neutralisation of Karamanlis – Article in Greek) – Kathimerini, 19/07/2021

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