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Former King of Greece Constantine II dies at 82

In this file photo taken on Nov 19, 2007, Constantine II of Greece leaves Westminster Abbey in London, following a service of celebration to mark the diamond wedding anniversary of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. (ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP)

ATHENS – Greece's former King Constantine II, whose nine-year reign coincided with one of the most turbulent periods in the country's political history, died on Tuesday aged 82, state website ERT news reported.

Constantine II, the only son of King Paul and Queen Frederica of Greece, ascended to the throne in 1964 after his father died but his reign was marred by political instability which culminated in a military coup on April 21, 1967.

In a referendum called by a national unity government led by Konstantinos Karamanlis after the fall of the junta in 1974, Greeks rejected monarchy for a second time, making Constantine the last king of Greece

A few months later, he was forced to flee the country after leading an unsuccessful countercoup against the then military junta.

He remained in Rome until the junta abolished the monarchy in 1973.

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In a referendum called by a national unity government led by Konstantinos Karamanlis after the fall of the junta in 1974, Greeks rejected monarchy for a second time, making Constantine the last king of Greece. Athens later stripped him of his citizenship.

In 2002, he and other family members were compensated with 13.7 million euros for their former property in Greece which includes the Tatoi palace estate north of Athens that is currently being restored and a villa in Corfu, where Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was born, now turned into a museum.

With his wife Queen Anne-Marie of Greece, the former king, a sailor whose team won a gold medal at the 1960 Olympics, had five children. Constantine, Prince William's godfather, and his family had lived in London for years, before returning to Greece.

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In his last public appearance in the center of Athens last year, the former king was seen in a wheelchair and with nasal catheters, accompanied by his sister, the former Queen of Spain Sofia, and other family members.

Suffering from chronic heart and mobility problems, the former king's health condition had worsened and he had been hospitalized several times in recent months.