Prince Michael of Greece was not going to let destiny get in the way of true love.

The grandson of King George I of Greece and first cousin of Britain’s Prince Philip renounced his rights to the Greek throne to marry a commoner, artist Marina Karella, in 1965. They share two daughters, Princess Alexandra and Princess Olga, as well as five grandchildren.

The 84-year-old’s photo memoir, “Crown, Art, and Fantasy: A Life in Pictures,” was published on Sept. 12. It features more than 500 photos documenting his life and royal upbringing. The proud patriarch told Fox News Digital he’s been gathering photos of his family and adventures since he was 17.

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A cover for Prince Michael of Greeces photo memoir

Prince Michael of Greece’s photo memoir, “Crown, Art, and Fantasy: A Life in Pictures,” features more than 500 images from his personal collection. (Rizzoli)

“To be a prince is to be like anyone but not to be considered like anyone – not by me, by the others,” Michael said. “[People] always have the wrong impression. They always imagine we have palaces, jewels, lots of money, that we do everything we want. … But for us who are a former monarchy … to be frank, our titles sometimes open doors – not everywhere and not in every country.”

Prince Michael of Greece as a baby with his parents in a portrait

Prince Michael of Greece (seen here as a baby with his parents) became an orphan at age 14. (HRH Prince Michael of Greece)

Michael’s father, Prince Christopher of Greece and Denmark, died when he was just 1 year old. His mother, Princess Françoise of Orléans, died when he was 14.

“I have no brothers or sisters,” he said. “It was very hard for six months. But I think I have a sense of adaptation, which has helped me all through my life. And then, I went to live with an uncle of mine [the Count of Paris], who had 12 children. So, [I went] from being a lonely child to becoming a member of a very large family. It took me six months of perhaps loneliness, sadness or whatever to adapt. Then afterward, I was very happy.”

Prince Michael of Greece at a party looking surprised while he talks to a young woman

Prince Michael of Greece is seen here with Countess Marguerite of Limburg-Stirum. (HRH Prince Michael of Greece)

Michael had no idea his life would forever change after attending a party. It was there he met Karella, who shared mutual friends with him. He said it was easy to fall in love with the young painter, now 83.

“I found her absolutely charming,” Michael recalled. “She also studied painting in Paris – my mother was French and I grew up in France. She was just so lovely and gracious with me. It didn’t take long to decide that I wanted to marry her.”

A close-up of Marina Karella smiling in a coat next to Prince Michael of Greece in a suit and tie

Prince Michael of Greece said he quickly fell head over heels for Marina Karella. (REPORTERS ASSOCIES/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

“I remember I was dancing with her at a party, and I just looked at her,” Michael recalled. “It was like a revelation – it was her and no one else. That was that. But I didn’t tell her at once, of course. A few weeks afterward, I invited her to dinner at my house. … After the dinner, I said, ‘I’m going to marry.’ She said, ‘Who?’ And I said, ‘You – would you like to marry me?’ She took two minutes to reply. She said, ‘Yes.’”

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Marina Karella laughing and rubbing her hands together as Prince Michael laughs

Prince Michael of Greece met artist Marina Karella through mutual friends at a party. (HRH Prince Michael of Greece)

“She later told me that when she went back to her home, she thought she was totally crazy to have said yes without thinking,” Michael chuckled. “But in reality, she was not. It worked very well. And after all, isn’t life an adventure, one that’s always unexpected?”

Prince Michael of Greece holding onto Marina Karellas hand

Prince Michael of Greece and Marina Karella negotiated with the palace for two years before they were allowed to marry. (REPORTERS ASSOCIES/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Despite a whirlwind romance, the couple negotiated for two years before they were allowed to marry. According to Michael, morganatic marriages, or valid unions between people of unequal social rank, weren’t accepted at the time. They eventually won their case, and on Feb. 7, 1965, they married at the Royal Palace in Athens. They welcomed their daughter, Alexandra, in 1968, followed by Olga in 1972.

Michael said he “didn’t hesitate” to renounce his rights to the throne.

Prince Michael of Greece and Marina Karella on their wedding day with crowns above their heads

Prince Michael of Greece and Marina Karella married in 1965. (HRH Prince Michael of Greece)

“It sounds medieval, but at the time, the existing monarchy in Greece had a law which said that members of the royal family could not marry without the written consent of the head of the family, meaning the king,” he explained. “I needed his approval, otherwise my marriage would’ve been illegal. It was complicated, but we managed. I was convinced that I would win,  and I won. … Renouncing this title, not being a member of a ruling monarch in official functions and everything gave me a sense of freedom. I could choose my work and my profession, which I discovered was writing and history. It gave me the freedom to choose my way.”

marina Krella in her art studio painting

Marina Karella is seen here in her art studio. Prince Michael of Greece went on to become a writer. (Catherine Panchout/Sygma via Getty Images)

“It was love at first sight – it has never, ever changed,” Michael continued. “Now we are married 58 years … Marina and my country Greece are the same.”

When asked how Karella felt about his decision at the time, Michael joked, “I don’t think she was quite impressed.”

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Prince Michael of Greece wearing all black as Marina Karella wears all white while holding their baby

Prince Michael of Greece and Marina Karella welcomed their first child in 1968. (HRH Prince Michael of Greece)

“She knew it was important for me to be free and to choose my career, what I wanted to do,” he said. “She knew that in renouncing my rights to the throne, I found freedom. And she knew that she was my freedom. … The other day, I told her, ‘You gave me my freedom.’ And she said, ‘Michael, you gave me my security.’ So, I suppose it’s a good combination.”

And over the years, Michael has mastered the recipe for a lasting marriage.

Prince Michael of Greece posing outdoors with his wife and their family

Prince Michael of Greece with his family today. (Prince Michael of Greece)

“First, never be bored with your consort,” he said. “Laugh with your consort. Second, get a deep interest in each other’s activities. She takes a deep interest in my writing, I take a deep interest in her paintings. And we talk about them. But the pepper I add is: If you want to have a successful marriage, always keep one small part of mystery in you. So, your consort knows 99 percent of you but not 100 percent. That is my recipe. Perhaps it’s not for everyone.”

King Constantine II was Greece’s last king before the monarchy was abolished in 1973, People magazine reported. According to the outlet, his descendants still represent the country as princes and princesses.

Over the years, Karella has led a successful career as a painter while Michael became a writer and historian. They traveled the world and, at one point, lived in New York for 12 years. They now live in Greece and run their foundation, ELIZA, which aims to protect children from abuse.

A close-up of Prince Michael of Greece wearing a blue shirt

While the monarchy was abolished in 1973 in Greece, the royals today still represent the country as princes and princesses. (HRH Prince Michael of Greece)

Michael is related to monarchies, both current and defunct, in the U.K., Denmark, France, Spain and Romania, Town & Country reported. His cousin, Philip, was Britain’s longest-living consort. He died in 2021 at age 99.

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Portrait of royals in formal wear

Prince Michael of Greece’s first cousin, Prince Philip, front left, was Britain’s longest-living consort. He died in 2021 at age 99. (HRH Prince Michael of Greece)

Michael said he doesn’t envy the British monarchy in particular and the weight that has fallen on King Charles III’ shoulders. Charles, 74, became king upon the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, in 2022. She was 96.

“Today, the job of a ruling monarchy is not an easy job,” he explained. “You are under the press scrutiny with the internet and everything. You can’t move without it being known. … Everything can be recorded. … [And] it is very difficult for anyone to be the successor of Queen Elizabeth.”

Prince Michael of Greece sitting in front of an art sculpture and royal portrait

Prince Michael of Greece today with a royal portrait of his father. (HRH Prince Michael of Greece)

“I don’t know if he’s perfect or not,” said Michael, referring to Charles. “What I know is that he can hardly do better than what he does now. … I think he does his best. [Queen Camilla], too. It’s very difficult … I do not envy him at all, really – poor guy. And he does it with dedication, with a sense of humor. She, too. But I would not like that job at all.”

A close-up of King Charles and Queen Camilla wearing their crowns and robes on their coronation

Britain’s King Charles III and Queen Camilla were crowned on May 6, 2023. (Samir Hussein/WireImage)

Michael said he hopes his book will inspire others to pursue their dreams, whatever they may be.

“I see so many families in difficult situations today – fighting each other, hating each other,” said Michael. “I created my own family, whom I adore – my wife, children and grandchildren. That is the most important thing for me. … My life has been one of experiences, of discoveries. And I’m still very curious. … Now, I’m discovering technology through my grandchildren. It’s fabulous. My life has been an adventure. It still is.”


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