How and Why Queen Anne-Marie Can Save Greece- See Economic Policy

The referendum held on the July 5th 2015 rejected the European Union’s (EU) proposed austerity package was the most important vote Greece has had since the referendum on the 8th of December 1974 which unfortunately resulted in a 69% majority against reinstating a constitutional monarchy (a ‘Crowned Democracy’).

Is it possible that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras played a sophisticated psychological game in which he secretly hoped that a majority of the Greek electorate might vote in favour of the EU austerity package despite his public advocacy of a ‘no’ vote? However, the package which Prime Minister Tsipras recently proposed which hikes tax rates and the Value Added Tax (VAT) rate as well as lifting the retirement age to 67 while slashing defence spending and privatizing ports and airports might result in much needed credit being extended to Greece to avoid an exit from the eurozone (’Grexit’).

Should there be a ‘Grexit’ then Greece’s very vulnerable domestic banking system might collapse. One of the results of this collapse would be that Greeks could be faced with having to instead use government issued script in lieu of Euros. There is also the distinct possibility that a limited banking contagion may spread within the eurozone and that there may be temporary, but still steep, stock market plunges around the world.

It would be best if institutions such as the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) made arrangements for EU nations such as Germany to temporarily cover Greece’s short term debts, including interest rate payments so that a radical but still fiscally conservative rescue programme can be undertaken to save Greece.

It is disappointing that powers such as the United States and EU nations such as Germany have not formulated and applied creative financial rescue programmes as happened in the period following the end of the Second World War in 1945. It should not be forgotten that it was due to the innovative ideas of Dr. Ludwig Erhard that Western Germany experienced what became known as the ‘German Economic Miracle’. This phenomenon occurred because Dr. Erhard as the then Director of the Bizonal Economic Council (a very influential joint advisory planning body for the American and British occupation zones of Germany) engineered in June 1948 the creation of a new national currency, the Deutsche Mark (DM).

The impact of the adoption of the DM was transformationally beneficial for the nation which in 1949 officially became the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany). Indeed the German ‘economic miracle’ became the basis for an incredible economic renaissance in Western Europe which enabled West Germany to remarkably gain a degree of prestige within Europe despite the evil impact of the recent former Third Reich of Adolf Hitler.

Also crucial to Western Europe’s remarkable socio-economic recovery in the late 1940s and early 1950s was the impact of the Marshall Plan. This very generous American economic assistance programme was formulated in April 1948. The Marshall Plan was named after its main instigator, the then American Secretary of State, the brilliant General George C. Marshall.

Under the Marshall Plan billons of American dollars was generously provided to facilitate industrial production in Western European nations which crucially helped facilitate their recovery from recent wartime devastation. The innovation and generosity of the Marshall Plan was undoubtedly in part inspired by the New Deal legacy of the administration (1933 to 1945) of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR).

The New Deal was a series of government devised or supported public programmes, such as road building which was aimed at stimulating economic recovery so that the United States could overcome the devastating impact of the 1930s Great Depression. This public policy did not however secure economic recovery but instead stimulated sufficient increased economic output and artificial employment that staved off millions of Americans from falling into an economic abyss.

Contrary to the analysis of many neo-liberals, the New Deal was not a statist public policy aimed at burying a market economy, but was rather intended to preserve this type of economic system until there was an economic recovery. The economic recovery which President Roosevelt hankered for was finally achieved as a result of the vastly increased economic output which came from armaments production as a result of the United States entering the Second World War in late 1941.
The New Deal inspired innovative mindset of American policy makers in Western Europe, particularly West Germany, was crucial to the incredible European economic recovery which occurred from the 1950s onward.

The Need for Royal Innovation

It is therefore a pity, to say the least, that within the context of the current Greek financial crisis that the heirs to the American and European policy makers of the 1940s and 1950s have not formulated a similarly innovative approach and as a result there are now potentially negative ramifications for EU nations. The fact that Greece is in a financial crisis can be traced back to the Greek people voting against a reinstatement of their *monarchy in December 1974 because this prepared the groundwork for the rise of the populist Andreas Papandreou who served as prime minister of Greece between 1981 and 1989 and between 1993 and 1996.

(*A Social Action article entitled, ‘The Fall of Constantine II and the Greek Financial Crisis’ analyses the nexus between the fall of the Greek monarchy and Greece’s current financial crisis).

It is therefore ironic that the potential for Greece to pull out of its current financial crisis now potentially lies with the deposed Greek royal family. King Constantine and his wife Queen Anne-Marie have been domiciled in their homeland since 2013 in the resort municipality of Porto Cheli in south-eastern Greece. Their younger son, Prince Nikolaos and his wife, Princess Tatiana currently live in Athens while his older brother, Crown Prince Pavlos resides in London with his American wife, Crown Princess Marie Chantal-Miller.

For Constantine II his return to Greece ends the pain of forty-six years of exile even if the nation which he has returned to is tragically in the throes of this horrendous financial crisis. Despite Constantine II essentially losing his throne because he was reluctantly drawn into the vortex of Greek politics by dismissing the government of Georgios Papandreou in the 1960s, His Majesty probably does not want to now manoeuvre to regain his former royal position in case he jeopardizes being permitted to remain in his homeland.

The Anna Maria Foundation

However Constantine II and Queen Anne-Marie should not turn away from serving their nation in its hour of need in a non-political capacity. The former monarchs have been assisting Greece economically since 2003 when they established the Anna Maria Foundation that year. The financial capital to establish this foundation was derived from financial compensation which a Greek court awarded to the Greek royal family for their previous confiscated property.

In an act of pettiness, the then anti-monarchist government arranged that had the money which was to be given to the then exiled Greek royals would be derived from the budget which was allocated for natural disasters. Consequently, it could be erroneously said that the Greek royal family was deriving money which had been earmarked for suffering people. To counteract this scenario, the Anna-Maria Foundation was established so that rescue efforts and aid could be facilitated to victims of natural disasters such as earthquakes.

The king and queen’s children serve as board members of this foundation and this charity has been very successful in co-ordinating relief efforts to victims of natural disasters in Greece. This foundation currently operates out of the personal office of Constantine II which is based in Athens. Not only does this charity provide invaluable help to people in distress but it also serves as a means for this royal family to re-connect with Greek society while avoiding becoming ensnared in politics.

However, the distress of the Greek people is now more extensive than those who have been subjected to natural disasters due to the onset of the financial crisis. Therefore, the question emerges as to whether the Anna-Maria Foundation can be of meaningful assistance to most of the Greek population in their hour of national emergency?

The answer to this question is an unequivocal yes!

It should not be forgotten that when Anne-Marie was the domiciled queen consort of *Greece between 1964 and 1967, this one-time Danish princess established Her Majesty’s Fund. With money which was donated to this charity, Queen Anne-Marie provided micro-credit to poor women so that they could establish small businesses or undertake economic activity such as selling handicrafts to gain additional and much needed income.

(*Greece was officially then known as the Kingdom of the Hellenes, but for simplicity’s sake King Constantine II and Queen Anne-Marie will be referred to as the monarchs of Greece).

The Vital Importance of Micro-Banking

Contemporary Greece now needs micro-credit on a massive scale if this nation is to have any chance of ever coming out of the financial rut in which it now finds itself embroiled. The Anna-Maria Foundation could be revamped and registered as a micro-lending agency to provide money to Greeks to help them establish businesses. There is scope for micro-credit loans to be successfully provided because there is still a critical mass of tourists who visit Greece and can purchase products and services which could be facilitated by low interest micro-credit loans.

The Anna-Maria Foundation as a micro-lending institution could be capitalized through the London based financial connections of Crown Prince Pavlos and his wife, Crown Princess Marie-Chantal. Her Royal Highness is the daughter of the Duty Free Shops (DFS) billionaire entrepreneur Robert Miller. Their Royal Highnesses could therefore establish links to what is known as ‘the City’ so that the Anna-Marie Foundation could be sufficiently capitalized to undertake the massive project of substantial micro-credit lending in Greece.

‘The City’ refers to the London based financial establishment which is one of the most important in the world. An investment bank which is a pillar of the city is Barclays which is very experienced in providing capital to a range of financial institutions. As such, Barclays could vitally assist the Anna-Marie Foundation to make the transition to being an effective non-for profit micro-credit lending institution.

The Anna-Marie Foundation itself would have to undergo fundamental reform to become a hybrid between a charity and a non-government organization (NGO). Financial professionals would have to be employed by the foundation and advanced systems of loan recording would have to be undertaken and realistic lending criterion for loans would have to be established.

Queen Anne-Marie could utilize Porto Cheli as a base from which to engage with world’s financial elite to help support her foundation. Members of these financial elite could refer young and ambitious financiers to work for this foundation on secondment so that they could help rescue this EU nation from financial and social ruin. Contributing to this process would be a positive achievement which could be placed on any ambitious financier’s resume.

Furthermore, there would be a critical mass of patriotic Greeks, whether they are monarchist or republican, who could give their services and talents to the Anna-Maria Foundation. As a result local Greeks who are grounded with an understanding of the everyday needs of the Greek citizenry could form a cadre to assist the foundation to act in a savvy way to ensure that an economic recovery is facilitated at a grass-roots level.

The Roumania Scenario

The revamping of the Anna-Marie Foundation to be a leading micro-credit lending institution may seem to be a pie in the sky proposition. However, if one looks at contemporary Roumania there is an example of its royal family that is making a remarkable contribution to society. Following the bloody overthrow of Ceausescu communist dictatorship in December 1989, the exiled *King Michael, who was based in Switzerland, established a secretariat in his home. Four of his five daughters gave up their professional careers to help him run a royal secretariat so that their father could re-establish links with his homeland.

(*King Michael and his mother Princess Helen, who was originally a Greek princess, were banished into exile in January 1948).

King Michael’s daughters were allowed to enter Roumania from 1990 onward where they were greeted by elderly people who had doggedly remained monarchist and by curious younger Roumanians. It became clear to members of the royal family that as a result of the incredible excesses of the Ceausescu family dictatorship that the idea of a reinstated hereditary monarchy was unfortunately anathema to the clear majority of Roumanians.

However, the accomplishments of the king’s four daughter in the charity work which they undertook was such that they won the overwhelming respect of most Roumanians, including republicans, while establishing a monarchist voting base (which included many voters born after the abolition of the monarchy) that was approximately a quarter of the population. This royal political clout was reflected when King Michael endorsed his one-time foe, former president Ion Iliescu, in the run-off against the extreme nationalist, Corneliu Tudor in the 2000 presidential election. Even though the centre-left Iliescu was a former communist, he was ironically running against Tudor whose republican backers had a closer association with the former Ceausescu regime, even though they were of the extreme right.

By contrast, the centre-right camp was descended from the previously dominant monarchist parties of the inter-war period, the National Liberal Party and the National Peasant Party (‘the historic parties’) which formed the Romanian Democratic Convention (RDC) in 1992. The RDC won the 1996 general elections so that its candidate, Email Constantinescu became president. President Constantinescu appointed King Michael as Roumania’s ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) so that the king was able commute between Switzerland, his long time base of exile and his homeland between 1997 and 2000.

Due to the travails of Constantinescu’s unsuccessful presidency the RDC electoral configuration disintegrated so that none of the presidential candidates of its previous constituent components qualified for the run-off vote in the 2000 presidential election which was between Iliescu and Tudor. Because King Michael was very much associated with the parties which had supported the outgoing Constantinescu administration, His Majesty ended up holding the balance of power when it came to determining who would win the run off- vote.

King Michael’s support for Iliescu was crucial to him winning the 2000 presidential vote. President Iliescu repaid the favour he owed King Michael by allowing His Majesty to permanently return to Roumania in 2003 and by restoring a substantial portion of his former properties. The wealth that the royal family gained from this restitution in turn helped them expand their charity activities so that they became even more respected among the population at large.

The Roumanian royal family’s re-engagement in civil society also helped precipitate the re-emergence of the nation’s previously dormant or exiled aristocracy. This aristocracy has long-standing and traditional links to France that this is now helping Roumania to integrate with Europe.

King Michael’s Positive Impact on Roumania

Integration into Europe for the many anti-communist Roumanians is regarded as a way of breaking with their hideous previously Soviet imposed totalitarian past. It was due to the anti-communism of so much of the electorate that the political centre-right still remained viable despite the two run-off presidential candidates in the 2000 poll who had previous links to the Ceausescu regime. The viability of the centre-right was illustrated in 2004 when its candidate Traian Basescu was elected president. He served in that high post until his retirement in 2014.

A substantial proportion of President Basescu’s base was monarchist which was reflected by the adverse reaction of many of his supporters when he publicly criticised King Michael in 2011 for abdicating in late December 1947 and for having helped pave the way for a Soviet occupation in 1944 by staging a coup against the pro-Axis dictator Marshal Ion Antonescu. King Michael’s honour was not only subsequently defended by President Basescu’s embarrassed supporters but also by some senior members of the left-wing Social Democratic Party (PSD).

President Basescu was consequently obliged to publicly apologise to King Michael. A possible cause of this presidential hostility was that the king’s son-in-law* Prince Radu had previously canvassed running for president in 2009. Thankfully His Royal Highness did not proceed with a presidential candidacy because this could have disrupted the stability of the monarchist base within the centre-right camp. King Michael himself had previously rebuffed an offer from President Iliescu in 1992 that he would be allowed to permanently return from his exile if he ran for president that year thereby splitting the centre-right vote.

(*Prince Radu is the scion of a prestigious Roumanian aristocratic family. His Royal Highness married Crown Princess Margarita in 1996).

Concerning the criticisms which President Basescu made of the king’s 1947 abdication it should e remembered that His Majesty was coerced into doing so and that he repudiated his abdication in 1948 during the first year of his exile. With regard to the criticism that the king’s actions paved the way for a Soviet takeover of Roumania this would have happened anyway. What the king’s brilliantly executed coup prevented was a long and protracted military conquest of Roumania by the Soviet army. Indeed, the king’s August coup is thought by military experts to have shortened the war in Europe by six months. Furthermore, Roumania’s expeditious exit from the Axis enabled this nation to subsequently regain Transylvania from Hungary.

For the first three years of the Soviet occupation (1944 to 1947) King Michael was an invaluable symbol of national sovereignty and the abolition of the monarchy represented for most Roumanians an end of a remnant of their independence. During his over forty years of exile during the communist regime King Michael spoke out against the nation’s totalitarian tyranny. His Majesty did this when it was unfashionable to do so because Nicole Ceausescu was internationally prestigious due to his being misperceived as an independent orientated maverick within the Soviet bloc.

It was King Michael who spoke out against Ceausescu, pointing out that his supposed independence from Moscow was a ruse by which Roumania gained access to valuable western technology and lucrative trading arrangements. The king’s capacity to speak out from the late 1960s was very limited because Radio Free Europe (RFE) refused to allow His Majesty to broadcast due to the high esteem which Ceausescu was then held in by western governments. With the advent of the Reagan presidency in 1981 King Michael was able to resume his annual Christmas broadcast to his nation on RFE.

The king’s bravery in denouncing the Ceausescu regime resulted in His Majesty and his daughters being subjected to petty harassment from Securitate agents. Harassment of members of the Roumanian royal family took the form of shadowing them in cars, sending threatening mail and making prank phone calls. The Securitate agents often tried to pass themselves off as republican members of the fascist Iron Guard but the communist phraseology that they used when making threatening phone calls conveyed that they were working for the Ceausescu regime.

The harassment which King Michael and his daughters were subjected to undoubtedly fortified them and paradoxically reinforced their connection to Roumania. Consequently they have since made a positive impact on post-communist Roumania. Indeed, the extent to which Roumania has broken with the xenophobia of the Ceausescu era was illustrated when Klaus Iohannis, an ethnic German and Lutheran from Transylvania of the centre –right was elected president of Roumania in 2014.

The respected role that the Roumanian royal family now have within society has ironically militated against a reinstatement of the monarchy as royalty is now perceived as an ally of republican democracy and not a rival to it. Nevertheless, King Michael, due to his remarkable personality and strength of character, has still had a substantial and beneficial impact on Roumania since the overthrow of the Ceausescu regime.

The Need for a Radical-Visionary Policy Framework

Similarly, Queen Anne-Marie can make a positive impact on a financially impacted Greece, just as King Michael has positively influenced Roumania. What is required is the queen’s capacity to serve the greater good combined with international financial connections and people on the ground who are ready to make a difference by serving Greece via the extensive application of micro-banking.

The paradox of the situation is that the avowedly radical Tsipras government is bereft of ideas to rescue Greece from its current disaster. For the true meaning of the word’ radical’ is to go to the roots of a problem. Tragically, Germany’s politicians, whose nation is the powerhouse of the EU, have demonstrated a lamentable lack of radical vision with regard to fixing the Greek problem. This is ironic because it was radical visionaries such Dr. Ludwig Erhard and Chancellor Konrad Adenauer who engineered the German economic miracle assisted by brilliant American foreign policy initiatives such as the Marshall Aid Plan.

An equivalent Marshall Aid Plan is not required on the part of the United States or the EU to rescue Greece. Rather the EU, the ECB and the IMF should cut Greece some slack should that nation vote down the austerity package by extending lines of emergency credit even if there should be a failure to meet loan repayment deadlines.

Short-term fixes are still acceptable if there is a long-term corrective strategy. Such a strategy can be adopted by private sources of capital being utilized under the aegis of the Anna Maria Foundation to undertake extensive micro-credit lending to help lift Greece out of the financial mire.