Monday, December 12, 2011

Queen Sofía of Spain

Queen Sofía of Spain (née: Princess Sophia Margaret Victoria Frederica of Greece and Denmark; Spanish: Sofía de Grecia y Dinamarca; Vasílissa Sofía tis Ispanías; born 2 November 1938) is the wife of King Juan Carlos I of Spain.

Early life and family
Princess Sophia of Greece and Denmark was born in Psychiko, Athens, Greece on 2 November 1938, the eldest child of the King Paul of Greece (1901–1964) and his wife, Queen Frederika (1917–1981), a former princess of Hanover. Queen Sofia is a member of the Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg dynasty. Her brother is the deposed King Constantine II of Greece and her sister Princess Irene of Greece and Denmark. However, since the abolition of the monarchy, the royal titles are recognized by the Dutch Monarchy and the Danish Royal Family.

Princess Sophia spent some of her childhood in Egypt where she took her early education in El Nasr Girls' College (EGC) in Alexandria, then went to South Africa during her family's exile from Greece during World War II. They returned to Greece in 1946. She finished her education at the prestigious Schloss Salem boarding school in Southern Germany, and then studied childcare, music and archeology in Athens. Sofia also studied at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge a constituent college of the University of Cambridge.

Marriage and family
On 14 May 1962 Princess Sophia of Greece and Denmark married Infante Juan Carlos of Spain, whom she met on a cruise of the Greek Islands in 1954, in Athens at the Catholic Cathedral of Saint Dennis. In doing so, she relinquished her rights to the throne of Greece and converted to Roman Catholicism from Greek Orthodoxy, an act of convenience in order to become more palatable to Catholic Spain. Further, the Latin transliteration of her Greek name (S?f?a), was changed from Sophia to the Spanish variant Sofía, which nonetheless is pronounced identically to the original Greek version.

In 1969, Prince Juan Carlos, who was never Prince of Asturias, the traditional title of the heir to the throne, was given the official title of Prince of Spain by the Spanish state; this was a title suggested by Sofia herself. Juan Carlos acceded to the throne as Juan Carlos I in 1975.

The couple have three children: HRH Infanta Elena, Duchess of Lugo born 20 December 1963, HRH Infanta Cristina, Duchess of Palma de Mallorca born 13 June 1965, and HRH Felipe, Prince of Asturias born 30 January 1968. The King and Queen have eight grandchildren, four boys and four girls: Felipe and Victoria from the Infanta Elena; Juan, Pablo, Miguel and Irene from the Infanta Cristina; and Infanta Leonor, and Infanta Sofía, named in her honor, of Prince Felipe; all of whom are in the line of succession to the Spanish Throne.

Queen Sofía is both a great-great-granddaughter (paternally) and a great-great-great-granddaughter (maternally) of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and is, through several lines, her husband's third cousin. She is a first cousin of Ernst August of Hanover, and through her great-grandfather George I of Greece, she is a second cousin to Charles, Prince of Wales. Through Christian IX of Denmark and Queen Victoria, she is also related to Elizabeth II and thereby related to all the royal families of Europe. She is also a first cousin once removed of Elizabeth II's husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Queen Sofia is of Hohenzollern descent through her mother, Frederica of Hanover, and through her paternal grandmother, Sophia of Prussia, and of Romanov descent through her father's paternal grandmother, Olga Constantinovna of Russia.

Life and lifestyle
In addition to Greek and Spanish, she also speaks French, English, Italian, and German. Her Majesty is also considered as one of the most fashionable royals in Europe and there's always great interest in her clothing at royal gatherings.

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