Prince Georgios and the Modern Hellenic Monarchy
Prince Georgios was the second son of the Danish-born King George I of the Hellenes. As a high-ranking naval officer in the Royal Hellenic Navy he played a crucial part in the Greek Glücksborgs’ mission to fulfill the great national goal of the Modern Greeks: the so-called “Megali Idea” or “Great Idea”. Ever since their independence in 1829/1832, the Greeks strove to incorporate all the Greek-inhabited areas still under Ottoman rule into their state. Naval hegemony in the Aegean Sea was one of their methods of choice to achieve this, and Prince Georgios was destined to lead the Hellenic Navy. His active career ended prematurely, though, when he was elected High Commissioner of the semi-autonomous Cretan state in 1898. Although high hopes were placed in Georgios’s ability to bring Crete completely into the Greek fold, he would eventually fail this complicated task. The “Cretan Drama” would haunt him for the rest of his life.
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One of the most famous episodes from Prince Georgios’s early career is the tour of East Asia that he undertook together with his cousin, Tsarevich Nicholas of Russia, in 1891. During their stay in the Japanese town of Otsu, a deranged Japanese policeman tried to assassinate the Russian Tsarevich. Read more about the “Otsu incident” and about how Georgios may have saved his cousin’s life in my Heirs-to-the-throne Blog Post A tale of two Princes.
The Greek Glücksborgs were decisively involved in the coming-about of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 as well as of the first International Archaeological Congress of 1905. Read more about their engagement and its deeper meaning for both the dyntasty and the Greek nation at large in my article about Prince Georgios’s older brother: A ‘sporting Hermes’. Crown Prince Constantine and the ancient heritage of modern Greece.