235. Despatch From the Embassy in Greece to the Department of State0

No. 660


  • Embassy despatch No. 656, March 10, 19581


  • Audience with Queen Frederika, March 5, 1958

With reference to the Embassy’s despatch No. 656 of March 10, 1958, some of the remarks offered by the Queen upon the occasion of my audience with her on March 5, 1958, may be of political interest to the Department. Immediately after the amenities were concluded, the Queen observed that I had arrived concomitantly with a government crisis which presented the King with a difficult problem. Political instability had been so characteristic of Greece for so many years that her husband was determined to do everything he could to strengthen the political structure of the country and avoid frequent crises. This was no easy task given the nature of Greek politics. Great progress had been made under Karamanlis who, according to the Queen, was perhaps somewhat rough in dealing with politicians but an able and energetic Prime Minister who had the welfare of his country at heart. While the Queen did not predict the outcome of the election, I had the impression she considered the prospects of Karamanlis to be good. She said that while she did not pretend to understand the intricacies of the electoral law,2 she hoped it would lead to greater political stability.

In speaking of United States policy, the Queen said it was perhaps difficult for an American to understand the great faith and confidence which many small countries had in us. The United States represented a hope of freedom and progress which was a tremendous asset in the struggle against communism. She thought our policy in the Suez crisis, for example, had been absolutely right and it had reinforced the confidence which many small nations had in us. She expressed the greatest admiration for the stand we had taken in the face of what must have been a most difficult decision involving our major allies.

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The Queen then put a number of questions to me about Yugoslavia3 and related a number of anecdotes on the various visits. She listened attentively to my description of present Yugoslav policies but it was apparent from several of her comments that she personally entertains considerable doubts about Tito and his ultimate intentions.

The end of the interview was somewhat surprising. Referring once more to the difficulties with which her husband was faced and repeating once again how glad she was we had arrived in Athens, the Queen then made what I can only describe as an urgent plea that I keep in close and intimate touch with the King. She emphasized it was most important that there be no misunderstanding between the Embassy and the Palace and said she hoped I would feel free to talk to them at any time. She explained that I need not follow the customary protocol and that informal meetings could quickly be arranged through her ladies in waiting. She reiterated the necessity of a close relationship and terminated the audience in expressing the hope we could continue our conversation in the very near future. It goes without saying I propose to take advantage of this offer and discreetly establish what I hope will be a useful personal relationship.

[1 paragraph (9–1/2 lines of source text) not declassified]

James W. Riddleberger
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 781.11/3–1058. Secret; Limited Distribution. Drafted by Riddleberger. James W. Riddleberger arrived in Athens on February 27 and presented his credentials to King Paul on March 4.
  2. Not printed.
  3. The proposed law introduced a system of “reinforced proportional representation” designed to ensure a working majority to the party with the largest number of votes and to discourage the formation of splinter parties.
  4. Riddleberger served as Ambassador in Yugoslavia, 1953–1957.