Human Interest

Thousands bid farewell to Greece’s last king

By Ingrid Haack

Athens, Jan 16 (EFE).- Thousands of people queued to pay homage to Greece’s late former King Constantine II in Athens on Monday.

Although the monarchy in Greece was abolished following a referendum in 1974, the Greek government has agreed to grant the former King a lying-in-state.

Deputy prime minister Panagiotis Pikramenos and culture minister Lina Mendoni, as well as several politicians from the center-right New Democracy party such as former prime minister Antonis Samaras are expected to attend the funeral later on Monday.

Constantine II’s body began lying in state at 6.00 am (4.00 GMT) at Agios Eleftherios chapel, located next to Athens Metropolitan Cathedral, where the funeral service is set to take place and where he will be buried as a private citizen.

The Archbishop of Athens and leader of Greece’s Orthodox Church, Ieronymos II, will lead the service. Constantine II then will be buried next to his parents in the former royal estate of Tatoi.

According to the police, some 5,000 people have come from Athens and other parts of the country to pay their final respects to the late King.

“Everyone, all of Greece loved the king,” Gerasimos Siyiotis, one of those waiting in line, told Efe.

Nearly 200 people are expected to attend the funeral, of which some 130 will arrive from abroad, including several royals.

Spain’s reigning King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia, as well as former King Juan Carlos and Constantine II’s sister Sofia, are due to attend the funeral.

Other royal couples from Denmark, Sweden and Belgium, and the heads of state of Monaco, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein are also expected to make it to the service.

Constantine II who was King of Greece for seven years died Tuesday at the age of 82. The former monarch’s health had been fragile for several years.EFE


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