Constantine, the former and last king of Greece, who won an Olympic gold medal before becoming entangled in his country’s volatile politics in the 1960s as king and spent decades in exile, has died. He was 82.
Doctors at the private Hygeia Hospital in Athens confirmed that Constantine died after treatment in an intensive care unit but had no further details pending an official announcement.
When he acceded to the throne as Constantine II in 1964 at the age of 23, the youthful monarch, who had already achieved glory as an Olympic gold medalist in sailing, was hugely popular.
By the following year he had squandered much of that support with his active involvement in the machinations that brought down the elected Center Union government of prime minister George Papandreou.
The episode involving the defection from the ruling party of several lawmakers, still widely known in Greece as the “apostasy,” destabilized the constitutional order and led to a military coup in 1967.
Constantine eventually clashed with the military rulers and was forced into exile.
The dictatorship abolished the monarchy in 1973, while a referendum after democracy was restored in 1974 dashed any hopes that Constantine had of ever reigning again.