by Elena Apostolou
King Constantine, the former king of Greece, was instrumental in some of the most gloomy times in Greece's post-war history. From 1964 to 1973, when he became king, Cyprus also experienced tragedy.
During his reign, the former king maintained excellent relations with the first President of the Republic of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios III, and Georgios Grivas, as he stated in interviews and in his autobiography.
He met and worked with Makarios shortly after his coronation in 1964, and Makarios honored him by attending his wedding on September 18, 1964.
Despite his good relations with Archbishop Makarios, the former king did not hide his disagreements when he refused to allow Greece to enter a war with Turkey to help Cyprus.
"I had attended the small cabinet meeting where they had decided to send the Greek Royal Air Force to intercept the Turkish air force, and I had managed to stop it," he said in an interview with TET-A-TET Tasos Tryphonos. Makarios told me at the time that I had done horribly. I told him not to blame the government because I was also involved in this decision. You preside over 20,000 people, I told him, whereas I rule over a country of nine million people, and I cannot involve it in a war because of an action that has nothing to do with us. You, Cypriots, are carrying out this action." He understands Cypriot resentment but emphasized that a war with Turkey would not benefit the Greek people. "Cypriots have the feeling that Greece has abandoned them," Makarios said. I told him I knew he'd see a lot of foreign ministers and prime ministers. I will not lie to you; I will work to keep my country out of any conflict."
However, he claims that their relationships remained intact even after that intervention that cost the Cypriot people. He maintains that it was always founded on honesty and mutual respect.
The 1966 video of them visiting Egypt to commemorate the 1,400th anniversary of the founding of the Monastery of St Catherine on Mount Sinai is tangible proof of their relationship. As the former King revealed a few years ago, this is a first-rate opportunity to discuss issues of concern to Greece and Cyprus.
On January 18, 1970, President Makarios traveled to Rome, where former King Constantine was living in exile, and the latter revealed that they had long talks to coordinate moves aimed at the fall of the Junta and his desire to put an end to the disputes over Cyprus.
He also mentioned his attempt to reconcile Makarios and Grivas after the latter founded EOKA II (testimony of the former King of the Greeks Constantine, 10 December 2009, Cyprus File p. 29).
As he had stated, his mind was focused on his father's advice, which he remembered when asked about Makarios' letter to Giziki, about which he had met with the Prime Minister of England in London. Statement to Tasos Tryfonos: "Oh my god, he says to me, and I say to him, you have the opportunity to stop a possible invasion by the Turks, I am sure they will make a move in Cyprus and I suspect they will land, and I say this because I had advice from my father who says whenever we interfere in the Cyprus problem, we open the door for the Turks to intervene".
However, the exiled Greek royal couple's thoughts were on Cyprus and the Cypriot people who had suffered as a result of the Turkish invasion and occupation. In a television interview, he asked for assistance for Cyprus's refugees fleeing the Turkish invasion.
It should be noted that when President Makarios died in August 1977, the former King Constantine was still in exile and thus could not attend his funeral. However, he reportedly went to Cyprus and expressed his heartfelt condolences to Makarios' sister, Maria Hadjikleanthous.
[This article was translated from its Greek original]