The last king of the Hellenes

A hole is seen being dug next to the grave of King Pavlos and Queen Frederica, the parents of the former king of Greece Constantine, at the cemetery at the former summer residence of Greece's royals, in Tatoi, northwestern Athens, Thursday. [AP]

With the death of the last king of the Hellenes almost 50 years after the institution was scrapped by referendum, there are no excuses for the frivolity with which many participants in public life - on the left and the right - approach the question of the monarchy and its history, seeking political gains without effort. And even as we await the verdict of some hypothetical, all-knowing historians of the future to judge the former king and the role that he played in the few years in which he had influence, we show no similar interest in the timeless weaknesses of our political culture - those that make us vulnerable to catastrophe no matter what political system we have.

From the foundation of the Greek state, the monarchy highlighted pre-existing problems and played a leading role in maintaining and sometimes worsening them. The civil wars of the Greeks were what led to the...

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