Remembering “Greek” Royalty

Welcome readers to todays offering from The Philatelist. So slip on your smoking jacket, fill your pipe, take your first sip of your adult beverage, and sit back in your most comfortable chair. We have told the story of new nations many times but this one will be a little different as it harkens back to the old European way of concocting a royal family.

The stamp today is from Greece and it must have been a conundrum for it’s stamp designers. It was still a time when the ancient Greeks were everywhere on the stamps. Here we have a set of stamps celebrating former royals. Yet the problem comes that they are not noticeably Greek, just European. That is how the stamp comes out. The did manage in one of the portraits to make Queen Amalia look Orthodox rather than the Lutheran she was.

The stamp today is issue A159, a 1 Drachma stamp issued by Greece on May 21, 1956. It shows former Queen Amalia. It was part of a 14 stamp issue of former kings and queens of Greece. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth 50 cents mint. The stamp in this set to look out for is the mint 10 Drachma stamp that featured the then current royals and is worth $60 mint.

This stamp brings up the rather unfortunate history of the modern Greek royal line. The area of Greece found itself inside the Ottoman Empire in the early 19th century. The Greek people had a different language than the Ottoman Turks who ruled them. They also practiced  Orthodox Christianity in a Muslim empire. The Ottoman government was weak and corrupt and the Greeks rose up and declared independence. The Russians and The British came in on their side and were able to achieve independence. A Russian Politician of Greek decent became the first President. Wars continued and Greece was not fairing well. It was decided to form a monarchy and A German nobleman named Otto became King of Greece. His German Lutheran wife Amalia became Queen. She was initially popular due to her glamour but over time the people tired of her as she refused to convert to Orthidox and got involved in political sqabbles. The couple was also unable to produce an hier. Eventually they were forced to abdicate and returned to Germany. The Greek throne was next taken by a Dane. In later life in Germany, the couple agreed to speak only Greek between 6:00 and 8:00 oclock as a reminder of their time in Greece.

The modern Greek royal family was not in for the long term. In exile during World War II, they managed to win a civil war against communists coming from the north in the late 40s. Prosperity in Greece proved elusive except for a few and left wing types  in the military overthrew the monarchy in the late 60s. The royal line still exists in the form of English Prince consort Phillip and the would be “Greek” royals who will surprise no one in not spending much time in Greece. Well maybe they at least speak Greek between 6-8 oclock?

Well my drink is empty and so it is time to open the discussion in the below comment section. One thing that Greece did in the royal period was do many stamps that reminded of the ancients. This is no longer the case. Perhaps knowledge of history has faded or just modern politicos are not up to the comparison. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.