The villa was built as a summer residence for the English CommissionerThomas Maitland, and his Greek spouse, Corfiot Nina Palatianou, in 1828–1831, although they had to vacate the villa soon afterwards when Maitland was sent to serve in India. The villa was rarely used as a residence for the British governors. In 1833, it housed a school of fine arts, while in 1834, the park was opened to the public. EmpressElisabeth of Austria stayed there in 1863. Here she fell in love with the island, where she later built the Achilleion Palace. After the union with Greece in 1864, the palace was granted to King George I of the Hellenes as a summer residence. He named the villa Mon Repos. The royal family used it as a summer residence up to the end of the monarchy in 1967. The palace became derelict, but was restored in the 1990s.
The villa was confiscated under controversial circumstances some years after the declaration of the Hellenic Republic. Its confiscation, and the confiscation of other property of the deposed and exiled King, Constantine II, without any compensation, led to a court case in the European Court of Human Rights. The king's argument centered on the claim that the property in question was acquired by his predecessors by legal means and was therefore subject to regular personal inheritance. The Greek state argued that the property was either used by the royal family by virtue of its sovereign status or obtained by taking advantage of that status, and therefore, once the monarchy was abolished, the property should revert to public ownership automatically. The Court struck a midway course in reaching its verdict and ordered the Hellenic Republic to pay the exiled king compensation, of a small fraction of less than 1% of its worth, while allowing the Greek state to retain ownership of the property.