Full Name at Birth
Princess Sophia Margarita Victoria Frederika Glücksburg
Profile Bio Text
Sofía (/sɒˈfiːə/, Spanish: [soˈfi.a]; Greek: Σοφία [soˈfi.a]; born 2 November 1938) is the wife of King Juan Carlos I. Born a princess of Greece and Denmark, she became Queen of Spain upon her husband's accession in 1975. On 2 June 2014, Juan Carlos announced that he would abdicate in favour of their son, Felipe VI, who assumed the throne on 19 June 2014.
Princess Sophia Margarita Victoria Frederika of Greece and Denmark was born in Psychiko, Athens, Greece on 2 November 1938, the eldest child of King Paul and his wife, Frederica of Hanover. Sofia is a member of the Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg dynasty. Her brother is the deposed King Constantine II and her sister is Princess Irene.
Princess Sophia spent some of her childhood in Egypt where she took her early education in El Nasr Girls' College (EGC) in Alexandria. Then she attended 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. She also studied at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. She represented Greece, alongside her brother Constantine, as a reserve member of the Gold Medal-winning sailing team in the 1960 Summer Olympics.
Marriage and family
Sophia met then Prince Juan Carlos of Spain on a cruise in the Greek Islands in 1954; they met again at the wedding of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, at York Minster in June 1961.
The couple married on 14 May 1962 at the Catholic Cathedral of Saint Dionysius. The bride's gown was made by Jean Dessès and she was attended by her sister Princess Irene of Greece and Denmark, the groom's sister Infanta Pilar of Spain, and Sofia's future sister-in-law Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark, along with Princess Irene of the Netherlands, Princess Alexandra of Kent, Princess Benedikte of Denmark, Princess Anne of Orleans and Princess Tatiana Radziwill.
Sofia converted from Greek Orthodoxy to Roman Catholicism to become more palatable to Catholic Spain, and thus relinquished her rights to the Greek throne. Along with this, the usual Latinisation of her Greek name (Σοφία) was changed from Sophia to the Spanish variant, Sofía.
Queen Sofía in 2009 with her daughter-in-law, Letizia
In 1969, Prince Juan Carlos, who was never Prince of Asturias (the traditional title of the Spanish heir apparent), was given the official title of "Prince of Spain" by the Spanish state; Sofía herself had suggested the title. Juan Carlos acceded to the throne in 1975 upon the death of Francisco Franco.
The couple have three children: Infanta Elena, Duchess of Lugo (born 20 December 1963); Infanta Cristina, Duchess of Palma de Mallorca (born 13 June 1965); and Felipe VI of Spain (born 30 January 1968). Their four grandsons and four granddaughters are Felipe and Victoria de Marichalar y de Borbón, Juan, Pablo, Miguel and Irene Urdangarín y de Borbón, and Princess Leonor and Infanta Sofía, all of whom are in the line of succession to the Spanish throne.
Queen Sofía departing the United States in 1986
Besides accompanying her husband on official visits and occasions, Queen Sofía also has solo engagements. She is executive president of the Queen Sofía Foundation, which in 1993 sent funds for relief in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and is honorary president of the Royal Board on Education and Care of Handicapped Persons of Spain, as well as the Spanish 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. Queen Sofía is often seen representing the Spanish Royal Family at weddings of other European royalty, most recently at the wedding of Victoria, Crown Princess of Sweden, and Daniel Westling in 2010 and the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton in 2011; her husband had earlier expressed his wish that he not attend such royal functions.
The Queen is an Honorary Member of the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts and of the Spanish Royal Academy of History. She has received honorary doctorates from the Universities of Rosario (Bogotá), Valladolid, Cambridge, Oxford, Georgetown, Evora, St. Mary's University (Texas), and New York.
A keen supporter of sport, the Queen also attended the final match of the 2010 Wimbledon Championships – Men's Singles where she watched Spanish tennis champion Rafael Nadal win for a second time, as well as the 2010 FIFA World Cup where the Spanish team was crowned as world champion.
Queen Sofía has been honorary president of the Spanish Unicef Committee since 1971. She has been working closely with Dr. Muhammed Yunus on his Grameen Bank (or "Village Bank"), which offers microcredits to women across the world. Queen Sofía has travelled to Bangladesh, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador and Mexico to support the activities of the organization led by Yunus. Queen Sofía has also been a strong supporter of Somaly Mam's efforts and of the NGO she founded—Agir pour les Femmes en Situation Précaire (AFESIP)—in combatting child prostitution and slavery in Cambodia. In 1998, Mam was awarded the prestigious Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation in her presence.
In July 2012, the Queen visited the Philippines for a fourth time. She inspected several development projects around the former Spanish colony that the her country's government is funding via the Agencia Española de Cooperacion Internacional para el Desarollo (AECID). She visited the National Library, National Museum and the University of Santo Tomas. She also met with Spanish nationals residing in the Philippines, and attend a reception at the Spanish Embassy. She also attended a state dinner in her honour at Malacañan Palace hosted by President Benigno Aquino III.
Queen Sofia in St. Petersburg with President Dmitriy Medvedev of Russia, 2011
In addition to Spanish and her native Greek, Queen Sofía also speaks Italian, French, German, Portuguese and English.
Abolition of the Greek monarchy
Greek Royal Family
Coat of Arms of the Royal Family of Greece
HM The King
HM The Queen
HRH The Crown Prince
HRH The Crown Princess
HRH Princess Maria-Olympia
HRH Prince Constantine Alexios
HRH Prince Achileas-Andreas
HRH Prince Odysseas-Kimon
HRH Prince Aristide Stavros
HRH Princess Alexia
HRH Prince Nikolaos
HRH Princess Tatiana
HRH Princess Theodora
HRH Prince Philippos
Extended royal family
v t e
Queen Sofía was in Greece on a private visit to her brother, King Constantine II, when the 1967 Greek military coup took place. Since then, he has been stripped of his title, citizenship and property in Greece. Except for a brief stay for the funeral of her mother in 1981, Queen Sofía did not visit republican Greece until 1998. She and her husband paid an official visit after 17 years as guests of the then–President Constantinos Stephanopoulos.
The Queen is considered one of the most fashionable royals in Europe and there is always interest in her clothing at royal events. After becoming queen, Sofía gained the privilege of wearing white before the pope, as opposed to the black donned by other visitors who do not have the title "Catholic Monarch".
She criticised the military intervention in Afghanistan, where Spanish troops were taking part at the moment, her defence of religious education in schools, and her conviction that gender violence publicity will encourage new cases to happen. Her opinions were the object of lively criticism from LGBT associations and from Spanish intellectuals. Also responding were Spanish republican political parties like IU and ERC. The governing PSOE decided to keep silent, while the conservative opposition PP also did so, after at first one of its representatives criticised of the Queen's political intervention.
A biography published in May 2012, claims that the Queen is a vegetarian who dislikes bullfighting.
Queen Sofía (Greek: Σοφία formerly Princess Sophia of Greece and Denmark, born 2 November 1938) is the wife of King Juan Carlos I. Born a Greek princess, she became Queen consort of Spain upon her husband's accession in 1975. On 19 June 2014, Juan Carlos abdicated in favour of their son, Felipe VI.
Cristina, Duchess of Palma de Mallorca (daughter), Infanta Elena, Duchess of Lugo (daughter), Felipe de Borbón (son)
Paul of Greece
Frederica of Hanover
Constantine II of Greece
Princess Irene of Greece and Denmark
Couple Profile Source
Schloss Salem boarding school in Southern Germany
Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge
Claim to Fame
Queen consort of Spain
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