Monday, March 18, 2013

BULLETIN: King of Greece murdered!

March 18, 1913

King George of the Hellenes was shot at 5:15 p.m., today while walking down the main street in Salonika, reports the New York Times via a Marconi transatlantic wireless telegraph.

The King died 30 minutes later.

Since his "triumphal entry" into Salonika, the king had been "accustomed to take an afternoon walk," to the White Tower or to the cavalry's barracks.

His confidence in the Greek people "was so great" that he went out accompanied by a single equerry.  He refused to heed repeated requests to be protected by "the presence of civil guards."

Several days ago, four police officers were given orders to follow the king, "but their presence was considered so objectionable" by King George that the number of the assigned officers was reduced to two, "who followed at a distance.

The King was in a "happy, contented mood," as he walked with Col Frankoulis from the White Tower.   He said to his companion: "Tomorrow when I pay my formal visit to the dreadnought Goeben, it is the fact that a German battleship is to honor a Greek king here in Salonika that will fill me with happiness and contentment."

These were King George's final words.  His assailant came from behind and shot the king, from "the distance of two paces."  The bullet entered the King's back "below the shoulder blade and made its exit from the stomach."

King George suffered a great hemorrhage.  The jeweled cross that he always wore was covered with his blood.

Col. Frankoulis was able to detain the alleged assassin, Aleko Schinas, described as a "Greek of feeble intellect." He claimed that he was "driven to desperation by sickness and want."   There was no real motive for the crime.

The assassination took place 50 years to the day after the young Prince Wilhelm of Denmark was elected as King of the Hellenes by the National Assembly on March 18, 1863.

Prince Wilhelm of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg was the second son of the future King Christian IX of Denmark and Princess Louise of Hesse-Cassel.  He was serving as a midshipman in the British Navy, when he was elected to the Greek throne. His succession was approved by the great powers, and also had the support of his father, who succeeded to the throne some months later.    He arrived in Greece on November 2 of that year.

The new King took the name George.  He remained a member of the Lutheran church, but chose to marry a Russian Grand Duchess, Olga Constantinova, daughter of Grand Duke Constantine, and a niece of Alexander II.   Olga was only sixteen-years-old when she married King George.

King George was the brother of the late King Frederik VIII of Denmark,  Queen Alexandra, consort of the late King Edward VII, and the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna of Russia, widow of the late Emperor Alexander III.

The King's eldest son, Constantine, has succeeded to the throne.  He is married to the former Princess Sophie of Prussia, a younger sister of Kaiser Wilhelm II.

Queen Alexandra, who lives at Marlborough House in London, received an :unofficial report" of her brother
s death.  She had been "unable to credit it," and she hoped that the report would prove to be untrue.  But after the Foreign Office received an official confirmation of King George's death, "the painful duty of communicating the intelligence" to Queen Alexandra was undertaken by her daughter, Princess Victoria.

The Dowager Queen "broke down completely," and was in a state of collapse.

In the "short space of a few years," the Queen has lost her husband, King Edward VII, her eldest brother, King Frederik VIII, her son-in-law, the Duke of Fife, her nephew, Prince George of Cumberland, and Prince Francis of Teck,  her daughter-in-law, Queen Mary's brother.

No comments: