Queen Sofia of Spain
Early life and family
She was born in Athens, Greece on November 2, 1938, the eldest child of the King of the Hellenes, Paul I (1901-1964) and his wife, Princess Frederika of Hannover (1917-1981). She belongs to one of the oldest European royal families: both her parents were descendants of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, and despite her country of birth, the family tree on both sides is almost exclusively German and Danish in origin. The Greek royal house is a cadet branch of the Danish royal family of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, which is itself a branch of the House of Oldenburg. Her brother is Constantine II of Greece, King of The Hellenes and her sister is Princess Irene of Greece.
Princess Sofia spent her childhood in Egypt and 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 pediatrics, music, and archeology in Athens. She speaks Spanish, Greek, German, French, and English. She represented Greece in sailing at the 1960 Summer Olympics.
Marriage and family
On May 14, 1962 she married Juan Carlos, Infante of Spain and the future King, whom she met on a cruise of the Greek islands in 1954. In doing so, she relinquished her rights to the throne of Greece and converted to Roman Catholicism from Greek Orthodoxy. The couple have three children: Infanta Elena born December 20, 1963, Infanta Cristina born June 13, 1965, and Prince Felipe born January 30, 1968.
The Queen has seven grandchildren: Their Excellencies Felipe Juan Froilán, Juan Valentín, Victoria Federica, Pablo Nicolás, Miguel and Irene, and Her Royal Highness Infanta Leonor de Todos los Santos, the only child of Prince Felipe and second in line to the Spanish throne.
Through her parents, Sophia is a great-great granddaughter of Queen Victoria and is, through several lines, her husband's third cousin. Because of this, she is also related to all of the royal families of Europe. She is also a first cousin of Ernst August of Hannover. Through her great-grandfather George I of Greece, she is a second cousin to Charles, the Prince of Wales. Through Christian IX of Denmark and Queen Victoria, she is a double third cousin to Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. She is also a first cousin once removed of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
Besides travelling with his husband within Spain and abroad, The Queen has her own agenda: she is the executive president of the Queen Sofía Foundation, which in 1993 sent funds for relief in Bosnia, and is the honorary president of the Royal Board on Education and Care of Handicapped Persons and the Foundation for Aid for Drug Addicts. She takes special interest in programs against drug addiction, travelling to conferences in both Spain and abroad. The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía is named after her, as is Reina Sofía Airport in Tenerife.
She has been working closely with Dr. Muhammed Yunus on his Grameen Bank (or Bank "for the Poor"), which offers microcredits to women across the world. Her Majesty has travelled to Bangladesh, Mexico, Chile and Colombia to support the activities of the organization led by Yunus.
The Queen is an Honorary Member of the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts and of the Royal Academy of History. She has received Honorary Doctorates from the Universities of Rosario (Bogota), Valladolid, Cambridge, Oxford, Georgetown, Evora and New York.
Queen Sofia of Spain
|Reference style||Her Majesty|
|Spoken style||Your Majesty|
Titles from birth
Here is a list of titles Queen Sofia held from birth in chronological order :
- Her Royal Highness Princess Sophia of Greece and Denmark (1938-1962)
- Her Royal Highness Princess Sofía of Spain (1962-1975)
- Her Majesty The Queen of Spain (Since 1975)
When she and King Juan Carlos I made their first official state visit to Puerto Rico in 1987, after taking a tour of the governor's mansion La Fortaleza, she was so left enchanted by the Rattan Living Room (known as Salon Ratán in Spanish), that the room officially was renamed in her honor and remains so to this very day (La Galeria de la Reina, or in English, The Queen's Gallery).
As a matrilineal descendant of Princess Feodora of Leiningen, maternal half-sister of Victoria of the United Kingdom, she and all her female-line descendants are members of mitochondrial haplogroup H.