ATHENS: King Constantine flew into exile in Rome today [Dec 14] after the failure of his attempt to overthrow Greece’s ruling military Junta. In Greece the Colonels who defeated the King tightened their control of the country and rounded up senior Army officers who had backed the 27-year-old monarch’s short-lived challenge.
Col George Papadopoulos, 47-year-old military strongman who has now taken over the Prime Minister’s job, laughed and joked at a Press conference in Athens as he termed the King’s action as “absurd”.
The Colonel, who has appointed a regent Lt-Gen Georgios Zoitakis in the King’s place, said an amnesty had been granted to a few officers who sided with the King, but that some of the leaders might face disciplinary action.
The King’s revolt had collapsed a few hours earlier with the arrest of three of his chief backers, General George Perides, Commander of the Third Army Corps in Salonika, the General’s Chief of Staff, Brig Vidalis, and Brig Esserman, Commander of the 20th Armoured Division based at Komopitini, Western Thrace.
But for the King himself the future was uncertain. He arrived at Rome’s Ciampino airport in the early hours of today with his Danish-born wife, Queen Anne-Marie, and their two children. Mr Constantine Kollias, who has been ousted as Prime Minister by Greece’s military rulers, was also in the King’s party.
At the airport the King’s plane stood by while Constantine pondered his next move. There was speculation the plane was being prepared for a flight to Copenhagen. Denmark’s King is Constantine’s father-in-law. Later Rome reports said King Constantine rested with his family in the seclusion of the Greek Ambassador’s residence in Rome amid speculation that he was planning to fly to London.
Italian Government officials made it clear that the King had arrived in Rome without warning and it was not known whether he should be considered a private citizen, a reigning sovereign or a political refugee.
Published in Dawn, December 15th, 2017