Sunday, September 5, 2010

Birthday of Queen Anne-Marie


On August 30, Queen Anne-Marie celebrated her 64th birthday.

Born August 30, 1946 at Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen, Anne-Marie was the youngest of three daughters born to Denmark's King Frederick IX and Queen Ingrid (formerly Princess Ingrid of Sweden). Raised in a seemingly close-knot family, this princess grew into a striking teenager and caught the attention of the Greek crown prince, Constantine, who was her third cousin twice-over (both Anne-Marie and Constantine are great-great-grandchildren of Britain's Queen Victoria and Denmark's King Christian IX). Crown Prince Constantine formally asked King Frederick's permission to marry his daughter, but was asked to wait until she was of age before marrying.

Constantine's sudden accession to the Greek throne upon the unexpected death of his father in 1964 hastened the couple's marriage. Anne-Marie became Queen of the Hellenes just three weeks after her eighteenth birthday in one of the grandest royal weddings ever held in Athens. Being the world's youngest queen (and one of the prettiest at that), Anne-Marie enjoyed an idyllic start to her life in Greece, and was initially viewed admirably by the Greek people. From a dynastic point of view, she delivered in full measure- a daughter, Alexia, was born in July 1965, and an heir to the throne, Pavlos, arrived in May 1967.

The political situation in Greece was much more dramatic than the cushioned lives led by its young monarchs. In April 1967, a colonel's coup seized control of the government and arrested most of King Constantine's supporters. The King launched a counter-coup in December of that year, but when the attack failed, the Greek royal family found themselves fleeing to Rome with barely enough fuel in their private plane. Queen Anne-Marie was pregnant with a third child at this time, but the stress of their exile caused her to miscarry shortly after their arrival in Rome.

The Greek royals remained in Rome for the next seven years, during which time Anne-Marie gave birth to her second son, Nikolaos. In 1973, the military junta in Greece declared the abolition of the monarchy. After the collapse of the junta in 1974, the newly-formed democratic government declared any laws passed by the junta null, including their abolishment of the monarchy. A plebiscite was held to decide the fate of Constantine and Anne-Marie's thrones, with the majority voting to do away with the Greek monarchy.

After the King's formal deposition in 1974, the Greek royal family purchased a home in the suburbs of London, where King Constantine and Queen Anne-Marie continue to reside today. It was here that Anne-Marie's two youngest children- Theodora and Philippos- were born.

Although Greece's current constitution does not recognize titles of nobility, international precedent allows former holders of certain titles or offices (particularly former monarchs or former heads of state) to enjoy the style and dignity of their previous station, albeit purely out of courtesy.
In her native Denmark, where her sister Margrethe is the reigning Queen, Anne-Marie is simply styled Queen Anne-Marie as opposed to Queen Anne-Marie of Greece or Queen of the Hellenes. Anne-Marie travels internationally on a Danish passport, which addresses her as "Anna-Maria de Grecia".

She holds the unique distinction of being a princess of Denmark both by birth and by marriage, as all dynastic members of the Greek royal family are male-line descendants of King Christian IX of Denmark and are therefore princes/princesses of Denmark. Therefore, since her husband is a prince of Denmark as well as the former King of the Hellenes, Anne-Marie is a princess of Denmark by virtue of her marriage to King Constantine as well as being a Danish princess by birthright.

Queen Anne-Marie is president of the Anna-Maria Foundation, which is named in her honor. It was established in 2003 following the ruling of the Greek courts to compensate King Constantine and members of the Greek royal family for their private properties in Greece, such as Tatoi Palace. The money granted by the courts was instead used to form the Anna-Maria Foundation, whose funds are aimed at helping villages and towns in Greece affected by natural disasters such as fires and earthquakes. All five of Anne-Marie's children sit on the board for the Anna-Maria Foundation.



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