Former King Constantine II, 82, has been placed in intensive care at a private Athens hospital following a stroke. His condition is critical but stable, Greek media reports.
Queen Anne-Marie and his children, who live outside of Greece, are by his side, Kathimerini reports. His sisters, former Queen Sofía of Spain and Princess Irene of Greece, are said to have traveled from Spain to assist him in his hour of need.
In recent years, the former king has struggled with various health problems, including mild heart attacks and pulmonary edema as well as a severe COVID-19 infection. Last September, the poor state of his health became apparent when he was not present at the funeral of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II. His eldest son Pavlos and his wife Anne-Marie did, however, attend.
In December 2021, he was hospitalized with pneumonia. Three years earlier, in 2018, he was treated for a stroke and has since been seen using a wheelchair during his rare public appearances. Constantine was last seen in public dining with his wife, Anne-Marie, and his sisters, Sofia and Irene, at a restaurant in the center of Athens in October 2022.
Constantine ruled the Greek people from 1964 to 1973 and was their last king. Following a 1974 referendum, the monarchy was abolished, and replaced with a presidential-parliamentary republic. Together with his wife Queen Anne-Marie (the younger sister of Denmark’s Queen Margrethe) and children, Constantine subsequently moved to London.
For many years, Constantine and Anne-Marie lived in London’s Hampstead Garden. Constantine is known to be a close friend of his second cousin King Charles III and is godfather to William, Prince of Wales.
In later comments on the referendum, Constantine repeatedly stated that he recognizes the republic, the laws, and the constitution of Greece. He told Time, “If the Greek people decide that they want a republic, they are entitled to have that and should be left in peace to enjoy it.”
Following his de facto exile, Constantine was strongly discouraged from returning to his former kingdom. He did not do so until February 1981, when the government allowed him to return for only a few hours, so he could attend the funeral of his mother, Queen Frederica.
In 2004, Constantine briefly returned to Greece to fulfill his duties as a member of the International Olympic Committee.
Since 2013, when Greece’s political climate was deemed safe enough, Constantine and his wife have again taken up residence there. While they initially settled in the coastal village of Porto Heli, they relocated to Athens in the spring of 2022 to be closer to medical services.