KING GEORGE I
AS SEEN IN:
'Edward The King'
AS PLAYED BY:
George I (24 December 1845 – 18 March 1913) was King of the Hellenes from 1863 to 1913. Originally a Danish prince, George was only 17 years old when he was elected king by the Greek National Assembly, which had deposed the former King Otto. His nomination was both suggested and supported by the Great Powers (the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, the Second French Empire and the Russian Empire).
As the first monarch of the new Greek dynasty, his reign of almost 50 years (the longest in modern Greek history) was characterized by territorial gains as Greece established its place in pre-World War I Europe. Two weeks short of the fiftieth anniversary of his accession, and during the First Balkan War, he was assassinated. In sharp contrast to his own reign, the reigns of his successors would prove short and insecure.
During a trip to the Russian Empire to meet with his sister Dagmar, who had married into the Russian imperial family, he met Grand Duchess Olga Constantinovna of Russia. Olga was just 16 when she married George on 27 October 1867 (Gregorian calendar), in Saint Petersburg. They had eight children.
When alone with his wife, George usually conversed in German. Their children were taught English by their nannies, and when talking with his children he therefore spoke mainly English. Intent on not letting his subjects know that he missed Denmark, he discreetly maintained a dairy at his palace at Tatoi, which was managed by native Danes and served as a bucolic reminder of his homeland.
Queen Olga was far less careful in hiding her nostalgia for her native Russia, often visiting Russian ships at Piraeus two or three times before they weighed anchor.
The king was related by marriage to the rulers of Great Britain, Russia and Prussia, maintaining a particularly strong attachment to the Prince and Princess of Wales, who visited Athens in 1869. Their visit occurred despite continued lawlessness which culminated in the murder of a party of British and Italian tourists.
The death of Britain's Queen Victoria on 22 January 1901 left King George as the second-longest-reigning monarch in Europe. His always cordial relations with his brother-in-law, the new King Edward VII, continued to tie Greece to Britain. This was abundantly important in Britain's support of the King's son George as Governor-General of Crete. Nevertheless, George resigned in 1906 after a leader in the Cretan Assembly, Eleftherios Venizelos, campaigned to have him removed.
The King went about Salonika without any meaningful protection force. While out on an afternoon walk near the White Tower of Thessaloniki on 18 March 1913, he was shot at close range in the back by Alexandros Schinas, who was "said to belong to a Socialist organisation" and "declared when arrested that he had killed the King because he refused to give him money".
The Greek government denied any political motive for the assassination, saying that Schinas was an alcoholic vagrant. Schinas was tortured in prison and six weeks later fell to his death from a police station window.