All at Cobham Hall were greatly saddened to hear, last month, of the death of His Majesty King Constantine of Greece. As Round Square’s Patron and President of the Board, His Majesty was an unparalleled champion of the organisation’s ideals and work. He was present at its birth in the 1960s and attended almost every Round Square conference over a period of 50 years.
He was also a friend to Cobham Hall, visiting a number of times, including in 1991, pictured above, when he was Guest of Honour at the School’s Festival Day and presented prizes to our students.
Tracey Balch, Cobham Hall Elder and Chair of the Cobham Hall Elders Association worked closely with His Majesty King Constantine on the Round Square governing board and counted him among her friends. She recalls how passionate he was about the Round Square ethos; about giving students the opportunity to blossom, to see things differently and to meet with others from across the world.
“He loved to talk to students,” she told us. “He was always happy to chat and have his picture taken with them.”
She remembers fondly a Round Square conference in Australia, in the early days of her association with the organisation and before she had joined the board. All delegates had been asked to bring something to represent their own country, then to be auctioned for charity. Having herself taken a sailing compass, her eye was caught by a fine Swiss cow bell. She started bidding, but the price went up and up and sadly she had to drop out. To her astonishment, His Majesty King Constantine walked up to the front of the conference room and presented it to her, amid huge cheers from the audience. She was so dumbfounded to realise he had bought it for her, she gave him a big thank you hug; only later did it dawn on her that might not have been quite the right protocol.
“He was such a vibrant man,” she told us. “Very warm.” He worked tirelessly to keep Round Square moving forward effectively, determined to ensure activity was always absolutely student focused. When Tracey later joined the Round Square Board (the only member not a school Head), she remembers how he took her “under his wing”, ultimately becoming a family friend.
Along with five other representatives of Round Square, Tracey was honoured to be invited to attend His Majesty’s funeral. “It was a great privilege to be there,” she says, “to say my farewells and to be part of Greek history.”
When his eldest son, Crown Prince Pavlos, stood to deliver a eulogy to his father, Tracey was moved to hear the Round Square organisation listed, alongside the Olympic Committee and the Sailing Federation, as one of the late King’s three greatest passions, “It was,” she says, “such an honour for us to be mentioned.”
Many Cobham Hall Elders have left messages of condolence and shared their memories and pictures of meeting His Majesty on the Cobham Hall Elders Association Facebook page, which Tracey has kindly shared with us.
Messages from Cobham Hall Elders
“This is very sad news indeed. I remember him very well, the first time when he handed over some prizes to me at Festival Day, the second time at a Round Square Conference in Rannoch School.
On this occasion we spoke for a few minutes, and he was a very kind and humble person. He appeared seriously interested in our conversation. He was queuing up with all the students to have lunch at the canteen! He was a very lovely person. May he Rest in Peace.”
“I remembered he presented an award to me during Festival Day. He was truly a gentleman. May he rest peacefully and condolences to his family and friends.”
“Terribly sad news, and I know how sad you must be, Tracey, today to also lose a friend as well. He was such a lovely person.”
We thank Tracey for sharing her memories with us and send our condolences to His Late Majesty’s family, friends and colleagues.