The funeral today on Greek soil of former queen Frederika, an uneasy concession to the royalty ousted six years ago, showed that she remains as controversial in death as in life.
Despite efforts by the republican government to constrain royalists from turning the ceremony into a political rally, about 1,000 broke through the police cordon to chant for a return to power of her son Constantine -- the last king of Greece.
Frederika, 63, died a week ago in Spain of a heart attack after an eye operation. Constantine was allowed a six-hour return to his homeland to bring her body and bury it at the nearby royal estate.
Constantine, who arrived from Madrid as a simple Greek citizen aboard an Olympic Airways plane, fell to his knees at the airport, crossed himself and kissed the soil.
Frederika was born in Germany as princess of Hanover, Britain and Ireland and was widely considered to be the power behind the Greek throne in the turbulent years after World War II until the death of her husband Paul in 1964, and even subsequently during the reign of her son Constantine.
She was particularly unpopular with the Greek left because of her political activism during the bitter 1946-49 civil war between the Communists and the Western-backed monarchists.
The former queen mother was buried next to her husband and other Greek kings and queens at the royal family cemetery in Tatoi 15 miles north of the Greek capital.
To chants of "Stay with us Constantine" from the enthusiastic crowd, the former sovereign stepped out of the estate chapel where the memorial service was being held, raised his hand and thanked those present "for your support of me and my family at this hour of grief." He also urged the crowd to "keep calm" so that the service could proceed.
It was the ex-king's first visit to Greece since his dramatic midnight flight to Rome with Frederika 13 years ago following an unsuccessful countercoup against the military dictatorship that had seized power in April 1967.
The monarchy was formally abolished on the return to democracy in 1974 with a plebiscite in which the Greeks voted by more than 2-1 margin for a republic. a
The modest failure of security measures at Tatoi is expected to add fire to the brimstone of the opposition parties that attacked any concessions to the ex-royalty. Parties from the pro-Moscow Communists to the liberal Centrists have violently criticized the conservative New Democracy party's administration for the decision to allow the funeral here.
With the exception of the ultra-right National Front Party, which supported the government move, the opposition charged that the return of Frederika even in death would revive old political passions and endanger still fragile democratic institutions.
The decision by Premeir George Rallis, who admits to having voted in favor of the monarchy in the plebiscite, also failed to please the royalist camp, however. In a statement made at Tatoi today, retired admiral Marios Stavrides, considered a spokesman for Constantine, castigated the government for "inhumanity worse than that of the former dictatorship" for the conditions it had imposed on the funeral.
Lengthy negotiations in Madrid, London and Athens had extracted Constantine's consent to remain in the country for six hours and limit the funeral to a close family circle.
Constantine's entourage complained today that their proposed guest list had been slashed by the government from over 500 to only 48 and that access to the public had been prohibited and wreaths and flowers of condolence sent back to their senders.
"If the government and opposition feel they have succeeded in pacifying us solely by allowing the funeral to take place in Greece, they are mistaken," Stavrides said. "This inhuman treatment has made us royalists even more determined. Our popular strength has doubled in the last two days alone."
Among those attending were Constantine's wife and three children, his sisters Irene and Queen Sofia of Spain, and her husband King Juan Carlos. Prince Philip of Britain also attended.
In contrast to the supporters of the Greek monarchy, who, although they make up a definite minority, have made themselves very much seen and heard in the past week, those opposed to the exchange have kept a low profile.
Although the administration's fears of bloody political riots have not been borne out, the affair is expected to have reprussions in Rallis' administration.
During a critical preelection period marked by a rise in the influence of the opposition Socialits, the premier has by his handling of the funeral issue caused a revival of the ultraright, alienation of some electorally important centrist forces, and reportedly displeased President Constantine Karamanlis. c
Karamanlis' rise to the premiership in 1963 was just one of the political moves for which former queen Frederika is held responsible, and it was her subsequent falling out with her favorite that prompted Karamanlis to reign and choose exile in Paris the following year.