Thursday, March 6, 2014

King Paul of the Hellenes (1901-1964)

Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Paul, King of the Hellenes and the accession of his son Constantine II. King Paul was the only modern Greek monarch whose reign began with the natural death of his predecessor and ended with his own natural death. During his reign (1947-64) Greece quickly recovered from the devastating Civil War and enjoyed its most prosperous and stable period in modern times. I had the honour to perform for his younger daughter HRH Princess Irene in 1999; his elder daughter is HM Queen Sofia of Spain. If things had gone differently in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Constantine II would be celebrating his Golden Jubilee this year. RIP King Paul.

Yesterday King Paul's descendants and other European royalty gathered in Athens to mark the anniversary, a highlight of which was a screening of the new documentary about him, No Ordinary King:

When King Paul was dying in March 1964, his wife Queen Frederika (1917-1981) played him a recording of Bach's St Matthew Passion. "This is the greatest music that has ever been written," he said.

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