Birthday: December 14, 1901
Died At Age: 62
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Born Country: Greece
Born in: Tatoi Palace, Greece
Famous as: King of Greece (1947-1964)
Emperors & Kings
Spouse/Ex-: Frederica of Hanover
father: Constantine I of Greece
mother: Sophia of Prussia
siblings: Alexander of Greece, George II of Greece
children: Constantine II of Greece, Princess Irene of Greece and Denmark, Sofía of Spain
Died on: March 6, 1964
place of death: Tatoi Palace, Greece
Cause of Death: Stomach Cancer
awards: Knight Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic
Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece
Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour
Bavarian Order of Merit
Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order
Collar of the Order of Isabella the Catholic
Order of the Golden Spur
Who was Paul of Greece?
King Paul of Greece was the King of Greece from 1947 to 1964. He was born into the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg as the third son of King Constantine I of Greece. Educated first in Greece and then in England, he went into exile twice; first with his father when the latter was forced to abdicate in favor of his second son Alexander I. After Alexander’s sudden death, 19-year old Paul was offered the throne; but he refused it on the ground that his father and eldest brother were still living. When the throne was eventually restored to his father, he returned home to complete his military training. After his father’s second abdication in 1922, he was declared the Crown Prince, while his eldest brother George II became the king. But very soon, the family was once again forced to go into exile and returned to Greece in 1935, when his childless eldest brother was once again restored as the King. Paul succeeded his brother in 1947 and his reign lasted for around seventeen years. He helped his country to overcome communist insurgency and in stabilize its economy.
Childhood & Early Life
Paul of Greece was born on 14 December 1901 at Tatoi Palace, located near Athens, capital of Greece. His father, Constantine I, was King of Hellenes from 1913 to 1917 and again from 1920 to 1922. His mother, Queen Sophia of Prussia, was the daughter of German Emperor Frederick III.
Born fourth of his parents’ six children, Paul had two elder brothers; King George II of Greece and King Alexander I of Greece. He also had an elder sister named Princess Helen, who later became the Queen Mother of Romania.
Younger to him were two younger sisters; Princess Irene, later Duchess of Aosta and Princess Katherine. He also had a half-brother called John Jean Goldkette, born out of their father's brief liaison with Jewish court musician, Angeline Goldkette.
As a third son, Paul never expected to become the king and therefore did not receive the rigorous training his elder brothers had to undergo. Initially educated at home, he later attended Saint Peter’s Preparatory School for Young Gentlemen, in Eastbourne, England.
After finishing the Preparatory School, Paul joined the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He was appointed as an army officer cadet in the Coldstream Guards and intended to attend the Royal Naval Academy at Dartmout thereafter. But he had to change his plans because of the First World War.
In 1917, King Constantine I of Greece was forced to abdicate in favor of his second son, Alexander I and move to Switzerland with the rest of his family. Paul now joined the German Imperial Naval Academy in Kiel, where he studied until the fall of German Empire in 1918.
On 25 October 1920, with the sudden death of King Alexander I of Greece, the government of Greece invited Paul to succeed him. But he refused the offer on the grounds that his father and eldest brother were alive and preceded him in the line of succession.
On 19 December, 1920, after a new government came to power, King Constantine I was restored as the King of Greece. On returning home, Paul entered the Hellenic Military Academy in Kypseli, Athens, where he studied for two years.
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Possibly in 1922, Paul began his military career with the Greek navy, serving as a lieutenant on the Greek cruiser, Elli. Same year on 27 September, King Constantine I was forced to abdicate in favor of his eldest son, George II. Paul was appointed the Crown Prince.
In October 1923, King George II was asked to leave Greece. Although he did not abdicate, he left the country on 19 December 1923, with the Queen and the Crown Prince. Shortly on 25 March 1924, Greece became a republic and King George II was deposed.
After spending some time in Romania, Paul moved first to Italy, where he lived with his mother and younger sisters and then to Great Britain. During this period, he also made several long visits to the United States.
In London, he studied music, philosophy and engineering, apart from working on Greek history and archeology. For a year, he also worked as an apprentice aircraft mechanic at Armstrong Siddeley, using the alias, Paul Beck.
In 1935, as monarchy was restored in Greece, he returned to his homeland with his brother George II and resumed his career with the Greek navy, as a Lieutenant Commander attached to the General Staff. Concurrently, he also continued to serve as the Crown Prince.
In 1941, with the German invasion of Greece, the royal family had to flee once again. While King George II and Crown Prince Paul set up government-in-exile in UK and Egypt, his wife and children took refuge in South Africa. They returned to Greece in September 1946.
King of Hellenes
On 1 April, 1947, King George II passed away and with that Paul became the King of the Hellenes. Shortly after that, the ongoing communist insurgency blew up into a full-scale civil war, destroying more than 7000 villages, making thousands of people homeless.
In the midst of the civil war, King Paul and Queen Frederica toured Northern Greece, appealing for peace. They also launched a Northern Provinces Welfare Fund and were instrumental to securing US fund, which helped to put down the insurgency.
Eventually in August 1949, the civil war ended with the victory of the national forces and with that began the nation building task. King Paul now began to work tirelessly to promote reconciliation, which in turn enhanced affection for monarchy..
In 1950s, King Paul started making state visits, visiting Turkey, Yugoslavia, Italy, West Germany, Lebanon, Ethiopia, India, Thailand and the USA, intending to strengthen diplomatic and trade links. The most significant of them was his 1952 visit to Turkey.
In 1954, he hosted large number of foreign royals on a cruise of the Mediterranean, Aegean and Ionian Seas, which helped to boost tourism. When in early 1950s Zakinthos, Volos and Santorini were shattered by devastating earthquakes he earned his subjects’ affection by quickly identifying with the victims.
Although he was quite popular many republicans were concerned about the costs of maintaining the royals and their alleged interference in politics. To placate them, the king cut cost and donated to the state his private estate at Polidendri.
Family & Personal Life
On 9 January 1938, Crown Prince Paul married Princess Frederica of Hanover, Duchess of Brunswick, whom he had met in 1934 and fell in love almost at the first sight. Two years later, they were engaged to be married.
The couple had three children. The eldest among them was Princess Sophia (born 1938), followed by Constantine II (born 1940) and finally Princess Irene (born 1942).
In July 1963, after a state visit to the United Kingdom, King Paul fell ill. Subsequent diagnosis revealed stomach cancer; but he refused to have it operated because of state duties, finally undergoing surgery on 20 February, 1964. However, he did not recover from it, dying on 6 March, 1964.
After a big funeral attended by international leaders and royalties, he was buried at the Royal Cemetery at Tatoi Palace. He was succeeded by his son, King Constantine II.