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Trouble In Greece
Reuters(June 25, 1995)
"Royal Wedding" reveals deep divisions in Greece.
ATHENS - Deep divisions are re-emerging in Greece over the deposed monarchy, prompted by the "royal" wedding of ousted Crown Prince Pavlos in London this week.
While the Greek socialist government fumes, European royalty is preparing to descend en masse for the July 1 marriage at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral in central London.
Pavlos, 28, a former British army officer who starts work soon for a U.S. shipping firm, will marry Marie-Chantal Miller, 26, the American daughter of a British millionaire.
The Greek monarchy was abolished in a 1974 referendum but the royal fanfare being drummed up around the wedding of the "Crown Prince" suggests hope may linger for a restoration.
"The ex-King is definitely using this wedding to present himself as the King of the Hellenes. His goal is to claim his right to the throne. This is unacceptable," Socialist deputy Evangelos Yannopoulos told Reuters.
King Juan Carlos and Queen Sophia of Spain, Pavlos's aunt and uncle, will attend. The royal houses from Denmark, Sweden and Jordan will also fly in.
Royalty-watchers are whispering about Britain's house of Windsor, which has direct blood ties to the defunct Greek royal family.
"Prince Philip and Prince Charles (the Queen's husband and son) will attend. But that may not be all," said a member of theex-King' s entourage, clearly referring to Queen Elizabeth.
Despite the ex-King's protests that this is a simple family affair which need not worry the Athens' government, all signs are to the contrary.
A private Greek television station will broadcast the event live, and 49 Greek and international channels have signed up to cover the wedding.
About 2,500 people, including dozens of Greek parliamentary deputies, have been invited. Some 500 will pack the church and 2,000 others will watch the wedding live on giant screens.
Word that a number of conservative parliamentary deputies would attend has set off a storm of protest.
"The former king is trying to use this wedding to create a political issue and we are not going to assist him," Apostolos Kaklamanis, Socialist president of parliament, said.
The government has said attending the wedding was tantamountto questioning the validity of the new republic set up in 1974. Government spokesman Evangelos Venizelos, who denounced the former royal family as "museum pieces," accused the ex-King of milking the wedding for his own designs and said flatly the "monarchy issue is closed."
He also slammed the door on any plans Pavlos and his young bride might have to honeymoon in Greece.
"The government will not allow any member of the former royal family to enter Greece," he said.
Diplomats in Athens said the strong reaction to the ex-King reflected just how sensitive the country remained to events surrounding the colonels' coup in 1967 and their fall in 1974.
"These are turbulent times in the Balkans and anything can happen. The King has made it clear on several occasions that he wants to remind the Greek public that he is still around," said a European Union diplomat.
Constantine is vilified by many, especially on the Greek left, for contributing to the political instability that helped a group of disgruntled junior officers seize power in 1967.
He is also denounced for swearing in the first government after the colonels' coup and approving a succession of laws which permitted mass arrests and abuse of power before he fled the country in December 1967.