There has been an exciting discovery this month. The Greek Crown Jewels were rediscovered at Tatoi Palace after having been missing for over 40 years. Created for the first Greek King, the Crown Regalia was in Germany for almost a century until being returned to Greece in 1959, less than a decade before the Royal Family went into exile. It has only been used twice in the past two centuries.
When Prince Otto of Bavaria was elected the first King of Greece in 1832, his father King Ludwig of Bavaria commissioned a set of Crown Regalia, coasting of a gold Crown, a Sceptre and a Sword, which were made by Fossin et Fills in Paris but never used until King Otto was deposed in 1862 and took the Crown Jewels with him to Bavaria, where they remained at Schloss Hohenschwangau for almost a century. The new Greek Dynasty, which was headed by King George I, never commissioned their own Crown Jewels nor claimed the original Regalia.
After King Paul expressed his desire for the Crown Regalia to return to Greece during a State Visit to Germany in 1956, the Duke of Bavaria, Head of the House of Wittelsbach, returned the Crown Jewels to Greece in 1959, accompanied by his younger son, Prince Max, Duke in Bavaria, who presented them to King Paul and the Greek Royal Family in a ceremony at the Royal Palace of Athens on the 125th anniversary of King Otto’s entry into the city. The King said:
“The memory of King Otto remains always alive in Greece because Otto was Greek before he came to Greece. He arrived full of Greek spirit and laid the foundations of the Greek state as King.”
The Crown and Regalia were first used a few years later, when they were placed on the Coffin at the Funeral of King Paul of Greece in 1964, having remained there througout the lying-in-state.
After the abolition of the Greek Monarchy in 1973, the Crown Regalia was used at the Funeral of Queen Frederica of Greece in 1981, for which King Constantine and the Greek Royal Family were only allowed to return to Greece for a few hours.
In the years since, there has been much debate about the location of the Crown Regalia, with them likely having been taken by the Royal Family into exile in London before being returned to Tatoi Palace at some point in the intervening years. It is also stated, that the Crown Jewels were stored in the former Royal Palace of Athens until being moved to Tatoi Palace at some point in the late 1980s. It is likely that the Regalia was handed over by the Royal Family several years ago, as it was not used during the Funeral of King Constantine II of Greece earlier this year.
Tatoi Palace is currently undergoing extensive renovations, with over 17,000 royal artifacts having been stored there for decades. A few years ago, royal carriages were discovered after having been feared lost, and earlier this month the Greek Government announced that they had discovered the Crown Regalia at Tatoi Palace in intact condition. After consultation with the Prime Minister and the President, they will be go on permanant display in the Hall of Trophies “Eleftherios Venizelos” of the Greek Parliament, which was the former Old Royal Palace built for King Otto. The Minister of Culture said:
The finding of the royal emblems of Otto, King of Greece, was unexpected. Their importance is extraordinary for the Greek State, regardless of the state change that has taken place. They are the first official insignia of the new Greek State and offer tangible traces of its continuity over time.