Kings of the Hellenes: The Greek Kings, 1863-1974
When the Greeks deposed their unpopular, childless, German-born King Otho in 1862, their choice for the vacant throne eventually fell on William, a prince from Denmark. Despite the instability of Greece, William - who chose the regal name of King George - proved an effective and popular monarch, weathering the storms engendered by nationalist aspirations in the Balkans, and defeat by Turkey in the war of 1897. Part of the King's prestige was owing to family connections: in the year of his election to the throne his eldest sister, Alexandra, married the future King Edward VII of Britain; and four years later another sister, Dagmar, married the Tsarevich, later Tsar Alexander III of Russia. On his assassination in 1913 King George was succeeded by his eldest son, Constantine, a brother-in-law of William II, German Emperor. King Constantine endeavoured to remain neutral during the First World War, but pressure from both sides, and from his government, forced him to abdicate in favour of his second son, Alexander. The latter's death from a monkey bite three years later led to King Constantine's recall, but a disastrous war with Turkey in 1922 resulted in his second abdication and death in exile a few months later. This remarkable history of the Greek royal family between 1863 and 1974 (illustrated with a large selection of photographs), shows how they reigned over an often turbulent country, in an age when constitutional monarchy in Europe was still evolving; and how being related by blood or marriage to most of the other royal houses could be both an advantage and a hindrance.
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