The most complete information guide about Athens, Greece

King Constantine II and Queen Anne-Marie of Greece with their two baby children Princess Alexia of Greece and Denmark and Pavlos in the Royal Palace in Athens in 1967



The Greek Military Junta
(Regime of the Colonels)
King Constantine’s Counter-Coup


From the outset, the relationship between King Constantine II and the colonels was an uneasy one. The colonels were not willing to share power with anyone whereas the 25-year old King, like his father before him, was used to playing an active role in politics and would never consent to being a mere figurehead, especially in a military administration. King Constantine II with the Belgian King Boudewijn

Although the colonels' strong anti-communist, pro-NATO and pro-Western views appealed to the United States, fearful of domestic and international public opinion, President of the United States Lyndon B. Johnson told Constantine, in a visit to Washington, D.C. in early autumn of 1967, that it would be best to replace that government with another one. Constantine took that as an encouragement to organize a counter-coup and it was probably meant as one, although no direct help or involvement of the US was given.

The King finally decided to launch his counter-coup on 13 December 1967. Since Athens was effectively in the hands of the junta militarily, Constantine decided to fly to the small northern city of Kavala, East of Thessaloniki. There he hoped to be among troops loyal only to him.

The vague plan he and his advisors had conceived was to form a unit that would advance to Thessaloniki (Greece's second biggest city and unofficial capital of northern Greece) and take it. Constantine planned to install an alternative administration there. International recognition, which he believed would be given, as well as internal pressure from the fact that Greece would have been split in two governments would, as the King hoped, force the junta to resign, leaving the field clear for him to return triumphant to Athens.

Prinses Friederike von Hannover with her brothers Welf Heinrich and ChristianIn the early morning hours of 13 December the King boarded the royal plane together with Queen Anne-Marie of Greece, their two baby children Princess Alexia of Greece and Denmark and Pavlos, Crown Prince of Greece, his mother Princess Friederike von Hannover and his sister, Princess Irene of Greece and Denmark.

Constantine also took Premier Kollias with him. At first things seemed to be going according to plan. Constantine was well received in Kavala which, militarily, was under the command of a general loyal to him. The air force and navy, both strongly royalist and almost not involved in the 1967 coup, immediately mobilized. Another of Constantine's generals effectively cut all communication between Athens and the north.

However, the King's plans were overly bureaucratic, naïvely supposing that orders from a commanding general would automatically be followed. Furthermore, the King was obsessive about avoiding "bloodshed" even where the junta would be the attacker. Instead of attempting to get the widest popular support, hoping for spontaneous pro-democracy risings in most towns and in strict compliance with military bureaucracy, the King preferred to let his generals put together the necessary force for advancing on Thessaloniki. He made no attempt to contact politicians, even local ones, and even took care to include in his proclamation a paragraph condemning communism so no one would get the wrong idea.

King Constatine II, Queen Anne-Marie of Greece, Princess Alexia of Greece and Denmark, Prince Pavlos and Prince Nikolaos, Rome 1971In the circumstances, rather than the King managing to put together a force and advancing on Thessaloniki, middle-ranking pro-junta officers neutralized and arrested his royalist generals and took command of their units, which subsequently put together a force advancing on Kavala to arrest the King.

The junta, not at all shaken by the loss of their figurehead premier, ridiculed the King by announcing the he was hiding "from village to village". Realizing that the counter-coup had failed, Constantine fled Greece on board the royal plane, taking his family and Premier with him. They landed in Rome, where later Prince Nikolaos would be born, early in the morning of 14 December. Constantine remained in exile all through the rest of military rule although nominally he continued as King until 1 June 1973 and never returned to Greece as King. Top



Add to Favit Add to Digg Add to Add to Simpy Add to StumbleUpon Add to Netscape Add to Furl Add to Yahoo Add to Google Add to Blogmarks Add to Ma.Gnolia Add to Netvouz
























    © 2004-2009 - Athens Info Guide - All rights reserved - Disclaimer