It was the perfect day and the perfect setting when Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece and his wife Marie-Chantal showed of their new baby son, Prince Constantine Alexios, and his sister, two-and-a-half-year-old Princess Maria-Olympia to us. The family were enjoying a half-term holiday with Pavlosís parents, ex-King Constantine and Queen Anne-Marie of Greece in the exclusive and picture-book pretty resort of Gstaad.
For this happy, noisy family occasion Prince Pavlos, his wife and children were joined by the Princeís cousin the Infanta Elena of Spain, and her husband the Duke of Lugo, in the chalet that Mr. and Mrs. Robert Miller built 15 years ago. The King and Queen were staying nearby with friends nearby.
Here in Gstaad, where part-time residents include Valentino, Adnan Khashoggi, Gunter Sachs and Elizabeth Taylor, the rich and famous barely elicit a second look. But everybody wanted to catch a glimpse of little Constantine Alexios and Maria-Olympia as they took to the snowy streets with their proud parents.
Prince Pavlos, where did you meet your wife?
We met at a friendís 40th birthday party in New Orleans six years ago. I was taken by herÖ the more one thinks back upon it, it becomes clear that it was love at first sight. She was actually living in France at the time and I was at Georgetown University in Washington studying International Relations.
I hadnít had any long affairs until I met Marie-Chantal. She was the first girl I really took seriously.
How did you propose to your wife?
That was rather difficult because I couldnít find a moment to ourselves. I actually proposed to her here in Gstaad on the cable car that goes up to the Egli. Itís the only lift that was slow enough to enable me to have time to talk to her properly. The weather wasnít very good and there wasnít much snow so I suggested going for a walk up the slopes.
Iíd been carrying the ring in my pocket for the previous four days, trying to find a moment when nobody else was around. As we travelled slowly up the mountain, I got down on one knee and proposed. I thought the traditional way was the best way.
I wanted to have a ring with which to propose with, so Iíd already asked my now father-in-lawís permission some time before, and then I got a ring made. I think there was a strong suspicion on her behalf of what was going to happen, so she didnít exactly fall out of the cable car in surprise.
What is your wifeís title?
Her title is HRH Princess Pavlos of Greece and our two children are HRH Princess Maria-Olympia and HRH Prince Constantine Alexios. Theyíre the first grandchildren of my parents.
We hear thereíll be another wedding in your family soon.
Yes, my sister Alexia, who teaches special-needs children in Barcelona, is getting married in July. She is marrying a Spanish architect, Carlos Morales Quintana, a very nice boy from a very nice family who come from the Canary Islands.
Are you a close family?
Yes, very close. And thatís another thing about getting married; when you want to do it and are smitten by somebody you want to marry, it happens totally by surprise. Then you get serious and you think: now, how is this going to work out? And for me it looked perfect because her family and my family are in many ways very similarÖ theyíre extremely close.
Thatís the way I grew up, with very strong family ideals, so in that sense there was nothing very different at all.
What attracted you to your wife?
Her nature; sheís a wonderful person and full of life and, in my eyes, the most beautiful girl. Her eyes express her joy or sorrow and I love that.
Marie-Chantal, how did you feel when you met Pavlos?
It was so unexpected. I was on my way out to California to visit one of my sisters. I went to New Orleans and there was Pavlos. Everyone asks us if it was love at first sightóand I think it was.
Are you learning to speak Greek?
Yes, and no! I am, then I stop for a while. Right now weíre trying to find a Greek nanny to teach the children and that should also encourage me to speak it more. Living in New York with a young family, itís so difficult to keep up on the language. Weíre not surrounded by Greeks all the time.
Prince Pavlos, are you close to the British royal family?
Weíre cousins and although Iíve lived in England for most of my life, I didnít have too much contact with them in my youth. But with time Iíve seen more of them. My father and the Prince of Wales have always had a close relationship and Iíve become closer to him as wellóhe is one of Olympiaís godfathers. Heís the one Iím closest to. Heís a very loving, kind person as was Diana and as a result they have wonderful children.
From time to time I see Prince Edward. Heís been over to New York on certain occasions so Iíve had a chance to see him there; he came over to show the film he did on his uncle, the Duke of Windsor. He did it excellently; itís a real vocation that he has. Iíve met Sophie and she seems to be a very nice girl. I donít know her well but sheís lovely.
Marie-Chantal, you were born in London, grew up in Hong Kong, and went to school in both Switzerland and Paris. Where do you feel most at home?
Thatís a good question. I guess I feel adaptable, but at the moment New York is my home.
Does Greece mean a lot to you?
I know it very well. My best friend lives there and I used to travel over every summer. Iíve visited Tatoi where the King lived, and Iíve visited the royal graves. I miss Greece a lot and Iíd really love to be able to spend another summer there again but, even though I could still go, I wouldnít until everyone else in the family could go, too.
Prince Pavlos, do you look forward to a day when there might be a restoration of the monarchy in Greece?
This is not an issue at present. I canít predict what will happen in the future. My immediate family and, of course, my parents and brothers and sisters, have a great wish to travel in and out of Greece like any other Greek can. At the moment itís not easy for us to return.
What do you think of the concept of monarchy at the end of the 20th century?
I think if you look at countries that have a constitutional monarchy, theyíre thriving and doing very well; theyíre very stable. But I donít think you can say that any country is doing any better or any worse as a result of the fact that they have a king or queen.
I do believe thereís a lot of benefit in having a royal family since they are above politics. They are a unifying force and symbol for the nation. They are brought up to understand their position and be as close to the people as possible. Their job is to serve the people. It is also to try to set them a good example of high standards. A king or queen in a constitutional monarchy is not actually the decision-maker of the country. The decisions are made by the elected government and parliament.
What did you do after you left school and before you went to study in Washington?
I went to Sandhurst and did four years with the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, an excellent cavalry regiment. Itís an excellent regiment and was the first to be called out to the Gulf War. Unfortunately, I had left as a full-time officer about three months before the whole thing started and by the time they were being sent out, I was well into my university studies. I offered to return to the Army but they didnít take reserves.
What was the reason you chose international relations as a university course?
As an undergraduate, you choose something you like but that doesnít necessarily mean itís the profession youíre going to take on. Essentially for the whole of my life Iíve been around the political arena and international affairs and that was always my interest. I thought I had a chance of doing well in those subjects if I studied them seriously.
I actually stayed on for an extra two years to take a masters degree at the same university where my cousin, Prince Felipe of Spain, was also studying. Now Iím running my own career, and have moved into the economics and financial side of life.
Tell us about your business.
I started with two partners and weíve set up as fund managers. Iím proud of doing that. I started out working with other people but now Iíve got my own business with my own partners. That gives you a certain independence, but thereís a lot of hard work involved; failure is only yours and you canít blame anybody else. Things are going well; itís a tough market to work in but I think we have the most professional people one can have and weíre steering a steady course.
What do your clients call you?
I go by Prince Pavlos. I think it makes it easier. When you say Prince Pavlos in America, people donít necessarily realise that youíre a royal prince, therefore they donít have a preconceived idea of who theyíre talking to, especially if itís on the telephone.
My business card just has Prince Pavlos on it, no HRH or anything like that. They think that my first name is Prince and my surname Pavlos! I like to leave it as simple is thatóif they know they know, if they donít they donít. Iím not bothered.
What is your familyís surname?
Unfortunately, we donít have one. As we descend from the Danish royal family, we donít have one and never did.
Where do you consider your home to be?
My parents have lived in Hampstead in London for many years now, so thatís their home. Iíve started my own familyóI have two children and a beautiful wife so my home is where I make it and at the moment thatís New York.
But always, since I was a young boy, I have considered home as being back in Greece, even though I havenít lived there since I was seven months old. Iíve been back but have never lived there as such. I grew up with a Greek education and went to a Greek school and so my whole background is like I lived in GreeceóI just havenít.
Where is your home at the moment?
In Manhattan on the Upper East side. We live in an apartment which used to be my wifeís, and then her sister took it on when she got married, and then she moved out into her own house and we moved in, so itís been changing hands.
Marie-Chantal, do you lead a particularly busy life in New York?
Itís divided between my children and different obligations I have, like involvement with various charities and fundraising projects. Iím also preparing a book, which will hopefully turn into a series, consisting of all the fairy stories I loved best as a child. I re-tell and illustrate the storiesóI love to draw. The first one is just about finished.
All the proceeds are going to a childrenís charity called Sand Castles which Pavlos and I have set up. The first place to benefit from this will be a childrenís hospital in New York which specialises in congenital heart and lung diseases in newborn infants.
Prince Pavlos, do you have a favourite pastime?
I love playing sports, especially polo, tennis and skiing. And in the summer time, sailing. At other times I play squash and go to the gym. In New York I like to play indoor polo during the winter and outdoor during the summer. Apart from enjoying my children I donít have any hobbies; Iím completely unartistic, unlike my wife.
Would you say you were a religious person?
Iím not overly religious, but I have a strong Greek Orthodox background; I enjoy going into church and I hold my faith quite closely but it doesnít rule my life. I believe in God but I also believe that one has to be very open to everybodyís religion. I think that if you look into it everybodyís religion comes down to the same principalóthere is a God and weíre here for a purpose and thus must live to certain standards. Each religion has given us a few different ideas on what the standards should be and how you should go about being a good person.
What language do you speak at home?
I speak to my wife in English and when Iím with my parents we swap between English and Greek.
King Constantine, these are your first grandchildren; how do you feel about them.
Theyíre adorable, absolutely adorable. It feels wonderful to be a grandfather; I highly recommend it. Iím called Apapa and my wife is Amamaóthose names traditionally go back 200 or 300 years in the Danish royal family, in the Russian family, and in the English family. So does Tino, which is what my family call me. My grandsonís name is also abbreviated to Tino, as was my grandfatherís. But it is only used within the family.
Is Constantine Alexios third in line to the Greek throne?
Well, there is no throne at the moment, but in the sense that he is second after his father.
Do you see a lot of them?
You never see your grandchildren enough and when you do, you savour every moment with them and whether here, or at Christmas or when we go to New York we try to spend as much time as possible with them. Although we live in London, we go to New York quite often so we have a chance to see them.
What ideas or values would you like to instill in them?
The same values that their parents have. Olympia is great friends with our youngest son Philippos whoís nearly 13. She calls him Porto. To her, he's the most important person of the previous generation.
Queen Anne-Marie, how does it feel to be a grandmother?
It's quite a strange feeling actually because I didn't expect it and, also because I've got two children who are quite a bit younger than the older ones, it's a funny feeling, but it's wonderful; it's great. The age difference between Olympia and her younger aunt and uncle is smaller than some of my children and them. I think this probably makes me feel younger; it certainly keeps one going.
What do you most look forward to doing with them?
As time goes by, I so much look forward to being able to take them out and do fun things with them. My son is trying to teach Olympia Greek at the moment, but it's not an easy language to learn.
King Constantine, do you miss Greece?
Of course I do. Nostalgia is a Greek word. I think about my country all the time.
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This page was created on August 11, 2000 by Alex B.