The Greco-Turkish peace treaty of 1897 recognized the autonomy of Crete under the sovereignty of the Sublime Porte, and through a common allied decision Prince George was appointed High Commissioner.

Indeed, on 9 December 1898 the Prince landed on the island, while the previous day the Turkish army had departed. Two months later the opening session of the Cretan Assembly took place consisting of 138 Christian and 50 Muslim representatives, appointed after elections. Soon the Assembly voted the 'Constitution for the Cretan State', while the first political government appointed by the Prince started its work.

The autonomous state established was deemed to be a transition one and by no means did it end Cretan efforts to unite the island with Creece. Besides, internal malfunctions and serious economic problems within the new state also contributed towards the Union. However, the desire for Union that continued to preoccupy the Greek inhabitants of the island hit steadily upon the different diplomatic settlement of the broader Eastern Question, part of which was the Cretan Question. Athens, on the other hand, could not undertake any serious initiative concerning the Cretan question given its defeatism, military inefficiency and economic bankruptcy. All she could do was to indirectly encourage the idea of the Union, leaving to Prince George the responsibility for relevant diplomatic actions.

The different approaches concerning the Union were the reason for the rift between the Prince and the Councillor for Justice, Eleftherios Venizelos.

The latter supported the full autonomy of the island, at the appropriate moment, as the safest means for the achievement of the Union and he had already proposed this to the Prince in the summer of 1900. The High Commissioner resisted the proposals of Venizelos, a fact that did not prevent the latter from bringing up his proposal again to the Principality Council in March 1901. Prince George decided to dismiss his Councillor.
Very soon, despite the pro-prince climate in Crete and the general alignment with him as concerned the handling of the national claim, stagnancy in the diplomatic field, the authoritarian and centralized stance of the Prince and problems in the implementation of the Constitution, administration and economy, soon focused the opposition. The claim for liberalization of the Cretan State, a programme represented by Eleftherios Venizelos, was mostly supported by the inhabitants of urban centres, academics, administrators and members of the liberal professions.
The refusalal of the Prince to conciliate opposition forces led to the outbreak on 10 March 1905 in the village Therissos of a revolt claiming the Union and the smooth functioning of the constitution. The eight-month revolutionary activity was terminated with a compromise that provided amnesty, the supervision of the commission administration by international authorities and the dispatch to the island of an international enquiry committee that would oversee the course of the new state.