|Sophia of Greece and Denmark|
|Reign|| 22 November 1975 – present|
( 41 years, 218 days)
|Spouse||Juan Carlos I of Spain|
| Infanta Elena, Duchess of Lugo|
Infanta Cristina, Duchess of Palma de Mallorca
Felipe, Prince of Asturias
| Sophia Margaret Victoria Frederica|
Spanish: Sofía Margarita Victoria Federica
Greek: Σοφία Μαργαρίτα Βικτωρία Φρειδερίκη
|House|| House of Bourbon|
House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg
|Father||Paul of Greece|
|Mother||Frederica of Hanover|
|Born|| 2 November 1938 |
|Religion|| Roman Catholic|
prev. Greek Orthodox
|Spanish Royal Family|
HM King Juan Carlos I
|v • d • e|
Queen Sofía of Spain (née: Princess Sophia Margaret Victoria Frederica of Greece and Denmark; Spanish: Sofía de Grecia y Dinamarca; Greek: Βασίλισσα Σοφία της Ισπανίας, Vasílissa Sofía tis Ispanías; born 2 November 1938) is the wife of King Juan Carlos I of Spain.
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.
In addition to Greek and Spanish, she also speaks French, English, Italian, and German.
On 14 May 1962 Princess Sofía 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 (Σοφία), 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
- HRH Felipe, Prince of Asturias born 30 January 1968
Life and lifestyleEdit
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.
Besides traveling with her 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 Herzegovina, 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, traveling 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 Sofia is often seen representing the Spanish Royal Family at weddings of other European royal families, 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, since her husband the King has expressed his wish not to attend weddings and other such royal functions.
As a keen supporter of sports of all kind, 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 team from Spain was crowned as world champion.
She has been working closely with Dr. Muhammed Yunus on his Grameen Bank (or "Village Bank"), which offers micro-credits to women across the world. Sofía has travelled to Bangladesh, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador and Mexico to support the activities of the organization led by Yunus.
Queen Sofia of Spain has also been a strong supporter of Somaly Mam's efforts and that of the NGO she founded, AFESIP (Agir pour les Femmes en Situation Précaire), in combating child prostitution and slavery in Cambodia. In 1998, Somaly Mam was awarded the prestigious Prince of Asturias Awards for International Cooperation in the presence of Queen Sofia.
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 (Bogotá), Valladolid, Cambridge, Oxford, Georgetown, Evora, St. Mary's University, Texas, and New York.
An interview for the occasion of the Queen's 70th birthday with Opus Dei journalist Pilar Urbano revealed some details of the Queen's conservative ideals on politically debated issues and the lifestyle of the Queen. Strong controversy arose from comments against the same-sex marriage law recently approved by the Spanish Parliament, and also against Gay Pride demonstrations. "I can understand, accept and respect that there are people of other sexual tendencies, but why should they be proud to be gay?” she asked. "Should they ride on a parade float and come out in protests? If all of us who are not gay were to parade in the streets, we’d halt the traffic in every city.” On the subject of gay marriage, legal since 2005 in Spain, she offered these thoughts: "If those people want to live together, dress up like bride and groom and marry, they could have a right to do so, or not, depending on the law of their country, but they should not call this matrimony, because it isn't”. These opinions forced the Spanish Monarchy to be the center of the claim for a new Spanish Republic during 2009 Gay Pride Parade in Madrid, in which participation of left party Izquierda Unida included showing more than 100 republican flags.
She also criticized the military intervention in Afghanistan, where Spanish troops were taking part at the moment, her defense 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 LGTB associations and from Spanish intellectuals. Also responding were Spanish republican political parties like IU and ERC. Government party decided to keep silence, while conservative party PP decided to do so, after a first criticism of the Queen's political intervention from its representative.
Also controversial were her publicly exposing private conversations between King Juan Carlos of Spain and King Hassan II of Morocco, and her revealing King Juan Carlos's autocratic references to Spanish regions as "my lands" (mis tierras).
She mentioned her relationship with her daughter-in-law Letizia Ortiz, a former divorcée, saying that Letizia has brought her closer to the people, and that she and Letizia spend time together and visit restaurants and shops.
On the election of Barack Obama, she said how surprised she was that for the first time in the USA a black candidate might be elected as president, and said she does not tolerate racism. She also mentioned that the King would never abdicate, and that she is against abortion and euthanasia. After the uproar, a press release was issued mentioning that the Queen considered her words were expressed in private conversations and were 'inaccurate'. Pilar Urbano defended herself saying that the book had been sent to the Palace for approval and that everything in the book is documented.
Some members of the Spanish royal family, including the King's sister, the Infanta Pilar, Duchess of Badajoz (who declared her total agreement with Sofia), supported the Queen's opinions.
Titles, styles, honors, and armsEdit
Here is a list of titles Queen Sofía held from birth in chronological order:
- 1938–1962: Her Royal Highness Princess Sophia of Greece and Denmark
- 1962–1969: Her Royal Highness Princess Sofía of Spain
- 1969–1975: Her Royal Highness The Princess of Spain
- 1975–present: Her Majesty The Queen of Spain
- Spanish honors
- Dame Grand Collar of The Royal and Distinguished Order of Charles III.
- Dame of the Royal Order of Queen Maria Luisa (1,193rd lady on 14 May 1962).
- Foreign honors
- Belgium: Grand Cordon of the Order of Leopold
- Brazil: Grand Cross of the Order of the Southern Cross
- Denmark: Knight of the Order of the Elephant
- Ethiopia: Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the Queen of Sheba
- France: Grand Cross of the National Order of the Legion of Honour
- Germany Grand Cross Special Class of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany
- Greece: Grand Cross of the Order of Saints Olga and Sophia
- Greece: Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer
- Iceland: Grand Cross of the Order of the Falcon
- Italy: Dame Grand Cross of Justice of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George
- Italy: Grand Cross with Grand Cordon of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic
- Japan: First Class of the Order of the Precious Crown
- Luxembourg: Lady of the Order of the Gold Lion of the House of Nassau
- Mexico: Collar of the Order of the Aztec Eagle
- Morocco: Special Class of the Order of the Mohammedi
- Nepal: Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Ojaswi Rajanya
- Netherlands: Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion
- Norway: Grand Cross of the Order of St. Olav
- Poland: Order of the White Eagle
- Portugal: Dame Grand Cross decorated with Grand Cordon of the Order of Saint James of the Sword
- Portugal: Grand Cross of the Order of Christ (Portugal)
- Portugal: Grand Cross of the Order of Prince Henry
- Romania: Grand Cross of the Order of the Star of Romania
- Slovakia: Order of the White Double Cross
- Sweden: Member of the Royal Order of the Seraphim
- Thailand: Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the Royal House of Chakri
- Thailand: Dame Grand Cordon of the Order of Chula Chom Klao
- Vatican City: Collar Lady of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem
The personal coat of arms of the Queen impales the Spanish Royal Arms (her husband's shield) to the dexter (viewer's left) with her father’s shield, the arms of King Paul of Greece – Azure a cross argent; inescutcheon, the coat of arms of Denmark as used when George I became king of Greece and showing the dynastic link to the Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg dynasty; a shield containing a cross argent fimbriated gules from the Danish flag and subcoats representing Denmark, Schleswig, the former Kalmar Union, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Holstein, Stormarn, Dithmarschen, Lauenburg, Oldenburg, Delmenhorst, and the former Danish royal titles of King of the Wends and Goths.