Nikolaos, son of ex-king Constantine of Greece, entered the Presidential Mansion on Wednesday for a function to mark the start of the 4th Athens Democracy Forum, “Religion, Migration, Power and Money”. In true royal fashion, he kept his emotions bottled up inside so that nobody could fathom how he must have felt strolling down the halls that once belonged to his ancestors.
There may have been a sense of bitterness, a pang of injustice, or a feeling that may have been deprived of his birthright. It is unlikely that he felt like an ordinary guest at the grand palace that a Glucksburg had not visited since the royal family fled Greece on December 13, 1967, after a failed counter-coup attempt against Greece’s Dictatorship. Two years later, Nikolaos was born in exile in Rome.
The mansion – since the official abolition of the monarchy by referendum in 1974 – has served as the official residence of the President of the Hellenic Republic. The decision to construct the palace was made in 1868 by King George I, Nikolaos’s great grandfather, during the year that Constantine, heir to the throne, was born and the Greek state decided to gift him a private dwelling when he came of age. Twenty one years later, Constantine married Princess Sophia of Prussia and the bulding was assigned to be built by Ernst Ziller. Finally completed in 1897, the palace has stood as an architectural masterpiece.
As Nikolaos walked through he may have felt his royal blood tingle. Some hope that the monarchy could be restored may have rushed through his mind. After all, the use of the building as a Palace was interrupted in 1924 when the monarchy was ended and declared as a republic. It was then used as a Presidential Mansion before being restored as a royal palace again in 1935 when the monarchy returned. At a time when everything is in a state of flux, who is to say that – in sheer desperation – the royalty won’t return again? The decision of Nikolaos in 2010, and his father in 2013, to return to Greece may not have been motivated by sheer patriotism.
Here’s what we know about Nikolaos, a man who calls himself the Prince of Greece:
1. Nikolaos speaks a number of languages but the one he knows the best is the language of diplomacy – especially when referring to matters of politics. Asked about how he felt about the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) he said that the government was “doing its best in its own way. They’ve got a mandate from the people and they’re trying to fulfil that mandate and I sincerely wish them well.”
2. A modest prince, he is unassuming despite having been born into royalty. Perhaps the fact that his father wasn’t really serving as king helped alleviate some of the royal pressure, giving Nikolaos the chance to enjoy a semblance of a normal childhood.
3. Despite having being born in Rome and being of Bavarian rather than Greek descent, Nikolaos claims to feel more Greek than anything else. His decision to return to Greece with his wife came at a time when most people were leaving. “We don’t have children yet, so it wasn’t a question of putting children in new schools or worrying about how they were going to adapt, so we said if we’re going to do it, it’s giong to be now and I haven’t regretted it at all. Living abroad in a quote-unquote ‘exile’, you long for what you can’t have. I was always brought up as a Greek, but there’s one thing to see it on a postcard and another to actually live in the country where you belong. I went to a Greek school with Greeks, and I love the Greek people. Even though I went to a boarding school, I was taught the Greek language, Greek culture, Greek ways of living,” he says.
4. “Greece has had all this attention recently, but unfortunately it’s been for the wrong reasons. One of the motivating factors in coming back is wanting to do something positive for the country. I wanted to see if, in my own little way, I could send a positive message about the country. Seeing as I could move back, it seemed ridiculous not to. A lot of people are leaving, and I wanted to make a statement by actually moving here. Who knows, maybe I’ll encourage other people to do the same thing,” says Nikolaos Glucksburg.
5. Educated at the Hellenic College in London, he grew up yearning for all things Greek. He studied at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, before joining the British Army and joining the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards as a second lieutenant where he took on the name of Nick Constantine. He worked for Fox News in New York and NatWest Markets before heading the Anna-Maria Foundation – a charity for Greek disaster victims.
6. In London he was quite the playboy and was labelled “the Most Wanted Prince of London”.
7. Nikolaos married Tatiana, a stunning Swiss-raised Venezuelan beauty who worked in PR for Diane von Furstenberg.Since they married in 2010, they have led a simple life though occassionally Tatiana has a reason to don her dusty tiara. She says that her life with Nikolaos has taught her “it’s not about acting like a princess, it’s just about being who you are.”