Category Archives: Greek Royals

Wedding of King Constantine II of Greece and Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark

by Scott Mehl

source: Zimbio

King Constantine II of Greece and Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark were married on September 18, 1964 in the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Annunciation in Athens.

Constantine’s Early Life

Constantine was born on June 2, 1940 at Villa Psychiko in Athens to Crown Prince Paul of Greece and Princess Friederike of Hanover. He has one older sister – Queen Sofia of Spain, and one younger sister – Princess Irene of Greece. During World War II, the Greek Royal Family were forced to flee Greece, settling in Alexandria, Egypt and then Cape Town, South Africa. They returned to Greece in 1946, and the following year, his uncle, King George II died. Constantine’s father became King, and Constantine became Crown Prince.

He attended school in Athens from 1949-1955, followed by all three Greek military academies. He then went to the National University of Athens to study law. An avid athlete, Tino (as he was known in the family) participated in the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, winning a gold medal in sailing (Dragon Glass). This was Greece’s first gold medal in 48 years. He became a member of the International Olympic Committee in 1963.

He became King of the Hellenes following his father’s death in March 1964.

For more information about Constantine see:

Anne-Marie’s Early Life

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Princess Anne-Marie Dagmar Ingrid of Denmark was born on August 30, 1946 at Amalienborg in Copenhagen. She is the third and youngest daughter of Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and Princess Ingrid of Sweden. Her two older sisters are Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and Princess Benedikte of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg. A year after her birth, her grandfather died, and her father became King Frederik IX. Several years later, the King had the succession laws changed to allow for female succession, putting Anne-Marie third in line to succeed her father.

After attending private school in Copenhagen from 1952-1961, Anne-Marie was enrolled at the Chatelard School for Girls, a boarding school in Switzerland, from 1961-1963. She then attended the Institut Le Mesnil, a Swiss finishing school.

For more information about Anne-Marie see:

The Engagement

Constantine and Anne-Marie are third cousins, several times over, through their mutual descent from both King Christian IX of Denmark and Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. They first met in 1959, when Constantine accompanied his parents on a State Visit to Denmark. Constantine was 19, and Anne-Marie was just 13. They met again in Denmark in 1961, but it was in 1962 that the romance truly began to blossom. Anne-Marie was a bridesmaid at the wedding of Constantine’s sister, Sophia, to Juan Carlos of Spain. By that time, Tino was clearly smitten and the two spent much of the night dancing together. After that, Tino made many visits to Denmark to see Anne-Marie, and the media began to speculate of a romance with Anne-Marie’s older sister Benedikte. In the summer of 1962, Anne-Marie was on holiday in Norway with her governess, and Tino was also there competing in yacht racing. They spent a lot of time together, and soon he proposed, and Anne-Marie accepted. His parents were delighted with the news, but the Danish King was hesitant to give his blessing. Soon, however, he realized that the two were in love and he relented, giving his consent. However, there were several conditions which had to be met. He insisted that the wedding could not take place until Anne-Marie had finished her education and reached her eighteenth birthday and that the engagement could not be made public until the beginning of the next year.

For the next six months, the couple kept their engagement a secret, while Constantine made many trips to Denmark, often using sailing events as an excuse for his visits. Finally, on January 23, 1963, the Danish Royal Court announced the couple’s engagement. Several days later, Constantine and Anne-Marie, along with their parents, appeared at a press conference and then greeted the crowds from the balcony at Amalienborg.

Once the excitement had died down, Anne-Marie returned to School in Switzerland and Tino returned to his official duties in Greece. The wedding was planned for January 1965. However, this would soon change due to the death of King Paul. In early 1964, King Paul was diagnosed with cancer. After undergoing surgery, he suffered from a pulmonary embolism and died on March 6, 1964. Tino assumed the Greek throne as King Constantine II. The wedding plans were moved forward and scheduled for September 18, 1964. This would be just weeks after Anne-Marie’s eighteenth birthday, and days after the end of the official court mourning.

Pre-Wedding Festivities

The celebrations began on September 7, 1964 when Constantine arrived in Denmark. That evening, a private dinner and dance were held at Fredensborg Castle, and the following day they returned to Amalienborg for the official display of the wedding gifts. That evening, they attended a gala performance at the Royal Theatre, followed by a lavish banquet held at Christiansborg Palace, with over 1,000 invited guests. The next morning, Anne-Marie and Tino were guests at a reception held by the City of Copenhagen and rode in a carriage procession through the streets to greet the thousands of Danes who had come out to wish them well.

The festivities then moved to Greece. Constantine, Anne-Marie and her family sailed to Greece aboard the Danish Royal Yacht, Dannebrog, where they were greeted by Queen Frederica, Princess Irene, and Prince Michael.

King Constantine hosted three large receptions at Tatoi Palace, with more than 6,000 guests invited. A special committee had been formed in Athens to select people from around the country to come – at the Government’s expense – to meet the King and his future Queen. A reception was also held at the Hotel Grande Bretagne, in Athens, in honor of the Danish royal family.

On September 16, most of the royal guests began to arrive, and King Constantine personally greeted most of them as their planes landed in Athens. That evening, a gala ball was held in the gardens of the Royal Palace of Athens, with 1,600 invited guests. The royal guests were resplendent in their gowns and uniforms, with their best jewels on show. The bride wore a light blue gown with the Greek Emerald Parure, which was among the jewels given to her by Queen Frederica. Read more about the parure here.

Wedding Guests

More than 1,200 guests attended the wedding, including many members of royal and noble families from around the world. According to the New York Times, the guest list included “eight reigning monarchs and their consorts, two former kings, more than 55 princes and princesses, and heads of state and representatives from more than 87 countries”. The royal guests included:

Constantine’s Immediate Family
Dowager Queen Frederica
Princess Sofia and Prince Juan Carlos of Spain
Princess Irene
Princess Viktoria Luise, Dowager Duchess of Brunswick

Anne-Marie’s Immediate Family
King Frederik and Queen Ingrid
Princess Margrethe
Princess Benedikte

Royal Guests
King Baudouin and Queen Fabiola of Belgium
Prince Ingolf of Denmark
Prince Michael of Greece
Princess Eugenie of Greece, Duchess of Castel Duino
Princess Tatiana Radziwill
Prince George Radziwill
Princess Irene of Greece, Dowager Duchess of Aosta
The Duke and Duchess of Aosta
Princess Katherine of Greece, Lady Brandram and Sir Richard Brandram
Princess Alice of Greece
King Hussein and Princess Muna of Jordan
Hereditary Grand Duke Jean and Hereditary Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte of Luxembourg
Prince Rainier of Monaco
Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands
Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands
King Olav of Norway
Crown Prince Harald of Norway
The Count and Countess of Barcelona
King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden
Crown Prince Carl Gustaf of Sweden
Princess Christina of Sweden
King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit of Thailand
The Duke of Edinburgh
The Prince of Wales
Princess Anne of the United Kingdom
Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent
Prince Michael of Kent
Earl Mountbatten of Burma
Tsar Simeon and Tsaritsa Margarita of Bulgaria
Prince Georg Wilhelm and Princess Sophie of Hanover
Prince Karl of Hesse
Princess Clarissa of Hesse
King Umberto and Queen Marie-José of Italy
King Mihai and Queen Anne of Romania
Queen Mother Helen of Romania
Princess Margareta of Romania
Count Michael Bernadotte
Princess Olga of Yugoslavia
Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia

Wedding Attire

The bride wore a gown made by a Danish designer, Jørgen Bender. The simple, yet elegant, dress featured a wide neckline, empire waist, and three-quarter sleeves, with a split-front skirt with a detailed edge, extending out into a 20-foot train.

Her veil of Irish lace was a family heirloom. It was originally a gift to her grandmother, Princess Margaret of Connaught, for her wedding to the future King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden in 1905. Holding the veil in place, Anne-Marie wore the Khedive of Egypt Tiara, another piece which goes back to her grandmother’s wedding, having been a wedding gift from the Khedive of Egypt. You can read more about the tiara here. Keeping with the tradition, both the veil and the tiara have been worn by all of Queen Ingrid’s female descendants.

The groom wore his white Field Marshal’s uniform, adorned with several Greek and Danish orders and medals.

The bride’s attendants (listed below) wore simple gowns of white organza, with white flowers in their hair.

  • Princess Anne of the United Kingdom
  • Princess Christina of Sweden
  • Princess Irene of Greece
  • Princess Margareta of Romania
  • Princess Tatiana Radziwill
  • Princess Clarissa of Hesse

Wedding Ceremony

On the morning of September 18, 1964, with all of the guests already assembled at the Cathedral, King Constantine, accompanied by his mother, left the Royal Palace in an open carriage. Soon, he was followed by Princess Anne-Marie and her father. The bride’s attendants were waiting outside the cathedral to help her with her gown and train, and then the procession began.

The traditional Greek Orthodox ceremony was conducted by Archbishop Chrysostomos, the Primate of Greece. After hearing the sacraments of marriage, the two exchanged rings and took communion. Part of the service involved crowns being held over their heads. This was done first by Queen Frederica, and then by a succession of princes – Crown Prince Harald of Norway, Crown Prince Carl Gustaf of Sweden, The Prince of Wales, Prince Michael of Greece, Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia, Prince Ingolf of Denmark, Prince Michael of Kent, Prince Karl of Hesse and Count Michael Bernadotte.

At the end of the service, red and white rose petals fluttered down into the cathedral, as the couple embraced her parents, and the Dowager Queen Frederica curtsied to Greece’s new Queen.

Following the ceremony, the King and his new Queen led a carriage procession back to the Royal Palace where a wedding breakfast was held for 80 guests. Constantine and Anne-Marie then left for Corfu to begin their honeymoon.

Wedding of King Juan Carlos of Spain and Princess Sophia of Greece

by Emily

King Juan Carlos of Spain, whose title at the time was The Prince of Asturias, married Princess Sophia of Greece on May 14, 1962 in a Roman Catholic ceremony at the Cathedral of St. Denis in Athens, Greece and then in a Greek Orthodox ceremony at the Metropolitan Orthodox Cathedral of the Virgin Mary also in Athens.

Juan Carlos’ Early Life

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Juan Carlos was born in Rome, Italy, on January 5, 1938, the eldest son of Infante Juan, Count of Barcelona and his second cousin, Maria de las Mercedes of Bourbon-Two Sicilies. The Count of Barcelona was considered an heir to the defunct Spanish throne at the time of his son’s birth. Born one month premature, Juan Carlos’ mother had been at the movie theater and his father hunting when labor began.

Juan Carlos joined his then 2-year-old sister Pilar in the nursery. Juan Carlos’ second sister Margarita followed in 1939, along with brother Alfonso in 1941. Although he was christened Juan Alfonso Carlos in honor of his father and grandfathers, he was known among his family as “Juanito,” the diminutive version of Juan. Like the majority of Spaniards, Juan Carlos was raised a Roman Catholic.

Born several years after the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic and exile of the Spanish royals, Juan Carlos grew up mainly in Portugal, Switzerland, and Italy. Juan Carlos and Alfonso later continued their studies in Spain with the consent of Generalissimo Francisco Franco. Juan Carlos completed his secondary schooling at the San Isidro Institute in Madrid.

In 1956, Juan Carlos’ life took a tragic turn when his younger brother Alfonso died after a shooting at the family’s home in Portugal. Stories began circulating that Juan Carlos had unintentionally killed his brother by firing the gun, unaware it was loaded. Juan Carlos’ role in Alfonso’s death (if he had one) has never been officially addressed, although by most accounts the death was accidental.

The Prince visited the United States in 1958, at which time Generalissimo Franco discussed reviving the Spanish monarchy following his own death. Although Franco regarded the Count of Barcelona with suspicion, he seemed to hold Juan Carlos in affection. The Count of Barcelona said he would never abdicate his claim to the throne to his son, and for his part, Juan Carlos said he would not accept the throne against his father’s wishes.

Juan Carlos served in the army, navy, and air force in Spain, and studied at the University of Madrid for a time, with a focus on economics and philosophy. He eventually became fluent in Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, and English along with some Greek. Juan Carlos developed interests in hunting, waterskiing, golf, and car racing. During his young adulthood, he also collected records and cigarette lighters.

For more information about  Juan Carlos see:

Sophia’s Early Life

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Sophia was born in Psychiko, Greece, a suburb of Athens, on November 2, 1938. Sophia is the eldest child of Paul I, King of the Hellenes and his German-born wife, Frederica of Hanover. Sophia’s brother, the future Constantine II, was born in 1940. Her sister Irene followed in 1943. Like the majority of the Greek royal family members, Sophia adhered to the Greek Orthodox faith.

Known within the family as Sophie, Sophia lived with her family in Egypt, Crete, and South Africa during World War II and the subsequent expulsion of the Greek monarchy from the country. The family returned to Greece in 1946.

Sophia was educated at the El Nasr Girls’ College in Alexandria while she lived in Egypt. Sophia later attended the Schloss Salem School in Salem, Germany, where her Hanoverian uncle George served as headmaster. After spending some time as a student of Fitzwilliam College at Cambridge University, Sophia completed her education in Athens.

In 1958, Sophia visited the United States with her mother and brother. The family made appearances at several sites in numerous states during their month long visit. During a stop in Quincy, Massachusetts, Queen Frederica christened a new oil tanker The Princess Sophie. The tanker was owned by Greek shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos, via one of his many companies. At the time, The Princess Sophie was the largest cargo ship ever built in the United States.

In 1960, Sophia served as an alternate to her brother on the Greek Olympic sailing team. The entire family made the trip to Rome to see Constantine and the Greek sailing team win the Dragon class gold medal. Along with her native Greek, Sophia also became fluent in her mother’s home language (German), English, and later French and Spanish.

For more information about Sofia see:

Royal Romance

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In an effort for young, suitable European royals to meet and mingle (and also to boost tourism in Greece), Sophia’s mother arranged a Mediterranean cruise on the Greek yacht Agamemnon in 1954. Several teenaged and twenty-something royals were invited on the trip touring a handful of Greek islands. Juan Carlos and Sophie were among the young royals on the cruise.

Common with young, marriageable royals of the time, both Sophia and Juan Carlos were romantically linked with others early in their adulthood. Juan Carlos was rumored to be involved with Maria Gabriella of Italy, a daughter of former King Umberto II. He often spoke of Maria Gabriella in letters to friends, served as her escort at weddings, and was photographed with her. Sophia’s name was frequently mentioned as a possible bride of the future Harald V of Norway. There was also some talk of Sophia marrying into one of the wealthy Greek ship-owning families.

However, by the summer of 1958, it appeared that Sophia and Juan Carlos were beginning to take a romantic interest in one another. At the wedding of Duchess Elisabeth of Württemberg and Antoine of Bourbon-Two Sicilies that July, Juan Carlos reportedly said that Sophia enchanted him. The two spent a good deal of time together at the wedding celebrations, despite the fact that he was officially the escort of Maria Gabriella.

The families of the Sophia and Juan Carlos reunited in Rome at the 1960 Olympic Games. The Greek royal family held a dinner for their Spanish guests onboard the ship Polemistis. At that point, Sophia and Juan Carlos had not seen each other for several months. During that time Juan Carlos had grown a mustache, which Sophia disliked on sight. She reportedly grabbed Juan Carlos’ hand, took him to the ship’s bathroom, and shaved off the mustache. Sophia later expressed surprise that he let her do it. Following the Olympics, Sophia’s family invited Juan Carlos and his family to spend Christmas 1960 with them in Corfu, Greece.

Sophia, Constantine, and Irene traveled to the United Kingdom in June 1961 to attend the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Kent. Due to a matter of protocol, Juan Carlos conveniently served as Sophia’s escort. Irene and Sophia were seen spending time with Juan Carlos at the wedding and various other events, which caught the eye of the press, encouraging rumors that Juan Carlos was courting one of the two sisters. Constantine acted as an unofficial chaperone for Sophia and Juan Carlos when the two attended several private events in London.

Following the success of the Kent wedding, Juan Carlos spent much of the summer of 1961 on Corfu at Mons Repos, the Greek royal summer home. Sophia later remarked that the two had several rather nasty arguments while sailing. She said it was during this trip that she decided marriage to Juan Carlos would be a viable option, as she felt if they could move past those arguments (which they did), they stood a chance at having a successful marriage.

Juan Carlos’ presence in Greece led to talk of him courting Sophia or Irene, but both families continued to officially deny these rumors. The Spaniards, in particular, wished to hide the news of the romance from Generalissimo Franco, whose relationship with Juan Carlos’ family had deteriorated in recent months.

The Engagement

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The engagement was announced on September 13, 1961, during a dinner held at the villa of Juan Carlos’ grandmother, former Queen Victoria Eugenie (Ena) in Lausanne, Switzerland. The parents of the bride and groom soon joined their children in Lausanne to mark the happy event.

At the villa, Sophia and Juan Carlos later met with members of the Swiss press to discuss the engagement. Juan Carlos said that he wasn’t certain when he fell in love with Sophia, but that the couple had known each other for several years. Evidently, the two had surprised both sets of parents by indicating their wish to marry.

Reportedly, Juan Carlos popped the question to Sophia in a rather unusual way. While attending an event at the Beau Rivage Hotel in Lausanne, Juan Carlos said “Sofi, catch it!” while tossing a small box in her direction. Sophia did catch the box, and when she opened it she saw that it contained a ring made from melted ancient coins dating back to the reign of Alexander the Great. Juan Carlos then happily said, “Now we will get married, okay?” Years later, Sophia jokingly remarked that Juan Carlos never officially asked her to marry him.

Crown Prince Constantine, who was acting as regent of Greece during his father’s absence from the country, announced news of the engagement in Greece. According to Constantine, Paul was so excited by the news that he was unaware of the late hour (3:00 AM) when he called to share it with his son. Constantine himself said he was so thrilled by the news of the engagement that he had trouble going back to sleep.

In celebration of his sister’s engagement, Constantine provided Greek news editors with champagne at the royal palace in Athens the following day. A 21-gun salute was fired from nearby Mount Lycabettus to announce to the Greek public the upcoming marriage of their princess.

Juan Carlos and his mother left Lausanne the following day for Athens, traveling with Sophia and her family. Over 100,000 Greek citizens were waiting in the streets of Athens to welcome the new couple to the country.

Wedding Preparations

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Due to Juan Carlos’ uneasy position in Spain, an Athens wedding was planned for May, the beginning of the tourist season in Greece. The celebrations involved 4 ½ months of nearly round-the-clock preparation headed by Colonel Dimitri Levidis, Grand Marshal of the Greek royal court. Colonel Levidis was in charge of every detail from the wording of the invitations to the exact timing of each ceremony. As the month of May was often a hot one in Greece, most of the official events connected with the wedding were scheduled indoors for the comfort of guests.

The difference in Juan Carlos’ and Sophia’s faiths posed questions on how the couple should be religiously married. In addition, Juan Carlos’ position in regard to the restoration of the Spanish monarchy needed to be considered. While conversion to Catholicism was not required of Sophia to marry, the Spanish public would likely expect a future queen to be a practicing Catholic.

As such, a meeting was scheduled in November 1961, between Juan Carlos and a group of Spanish advisors at his home in Estoril, Portugal. The focus of the meeting was to discuss the best way to navigate the question of religion. Sophia began lessons in Spanish language, history, and geography. As a gesture of affection toward his fiancée, Juan Carlos simultaneously began learning the Greek language.

An estimated 5,800 hotel rooms were added in Athens in late 1961 and early 1962 in preparation for the event, which predicted as the highlight of the Greek tourist season that year. Officials also began seeking wealthy Greek citizens with extra space to house the influx of tourists and guests.

The expense of the wedding was a major sticking point for many, with protests over the cost and the tradition surrounding Sophia’s $300,000 tax-free dowry. The opposition parties of the Greek Parliament abstained from voting on the dowry proposal, but did voice displeasure on the “anachronistic and barbarous” practice of granting such monies, as well as expressed general criticism toward the royal family.

Sophia was seen at the opening of the Paris summer fashion season in January 1962 with her mother, sister, and Olga of Yugoslavia, herself a Greek princess and friend of Queen Frederica. The group was in Paris to view the collection of Jean Desses, the Paris-based designer hired to design Sophia’s dress and trousseau. Desses later remarked that the trousseau was not particularly costly or extensive as Greek royal family was reported to be somewhat poor in comparison to their royal counterparts.

Celebrations in Athens

Three days of pre-wedding festivities began in Athens on May 10. Events included a garden party for 2,000 guests hosted by the parents of the couple. Spanish ambassador Marquis Luca de Tena held a gala for the couple in Athens the evening before the wedding. The gala featured Greek folk dancers performing in front of a large gathering of fellow royals and other prominent guests.

Prince Constantine took charge of the younger, unmarried adult royals attending the festivities, hosting a ball and sightseeing tours for up-and-coming royals. Members of the wealthy Athenian youth served as tour guides for the visitors.

Juan Carlos was observed as rather tense and gloomy during the celebrations. Unknown to most of the public, Juan Carlos was in severe pain. Less than a month before the wedding, he had broken his left collarbone while practicing judo with Prince Constantine. The sling had been removed just days before the parties began, but the pains in Juan Carlos’ arm and shoulder were still considerable.

Approval of the Churches

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As Juan Carlos and Sophia of different faiths, special consent was needed from both churches for the marriage to take place. A Greek Orthodox ceremony was required for the couple to be married in Greece, but the Spanish would likely not accept a future royal couple that had not been married according to Roman Catholic rites. The Duke of Edinburgh was asked to weigh in on his own experience converting from Greek Orthodoxy to the Church of England upon his marriage to Queen Elizabeth II.

After some discussion, an agreement was made to marry the couple in dual Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox ceremonies. The Catholic service would be held at the Cathedral of St. Denis, while the Orthodox ceremony would take place at the Metropolitan Orthodox Cathedral of the Virgin Mary in Athens.

Sophia signed a pledge issued by Pope John XXIII promising to raise any children in the Catholic faith – and not to convert Juan Carlos to Orthodoxy. She also received instruction in Roman Catholicism, but at the time of the wedding, her own possible conversion to the faith was still officially in question. Shortly before the wedding, the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church gave their approval for the Orthodox ceremony.

Two days before the wedding, Sophia formally renounced her claim to the Greek throne. The renunciation was seen as a precursor to Sophia’s expected conversion to Roman Catholicism, as adherence to Greek Orthodoxy was required of Greek rulers. However, the Greek government had repeatedly expressed their opinion that should Sophia convert, she should not do so before leaving Greece.

Three weeks after the wedding, it was announced that Sophia would be converting to the Catholic faith. During a honeymoon visit in Rome, Pope John XXIII received the couple in celebration of the announcement and presented Sophia with a rosary.

Wedding Ceremonies

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Very early on the morning of the wedding, several loads of fresh red roses were delivered to both the Catholic and Orthodox churches at the request of the bride and Queen Frederica. Over 35,000 roses alone decorated the Orthodox cathedral. The Father Benedict Brindisi, Archbishop of Athens, and Chrystomos, Primate of Greece conducted the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox ceremonies respectively.

The Catholic ceremony was to be held first, scheduled for 10:00 AM on May 14, 1962. Sophia and her father traveled from the palace to the Cathedral of St. Denis in the same coach used for the 1908 wedding of George, Prince of Greece and Marie Bonaparte. The carriage was pulled by six white horses.

According to estimates by the Athens police, several hundred thousand (possible up to one million) Greek and Spanish spectators packed the two-mile procession between the palace and both cathedrals. Upon arrival at St. Denis, Sophia was said to have seemed nervous and worried about the appearance of her train. However, before entering the cathedral, Sophia turned to wave at the excited spectators.

The cathedral was decorated with several thousand yellow and red roses and carnations in honor of the colors of Spain. While waiting at the altar at the beginning of the ceremony, Juan Carlos was said to be standing “ramrod-stiff”. Juan Carlos was addressed in Spanish during the ceremony, while Sophia was addressed in Greek.

Following the Catholic ceremony, Juan Carlos and Sophia rode together in state coach to the royal palace, while the next round of guests at the headed to the Metropolitan Cathedral for the Orthodox service. After a very brief rest, Sophia and her father again rode from palace to Orthodox cathedral via the same 1908 blue and gilt coach, while Juan Carlos traveled in a separate carriage with his mother.

The Orthodox service began at noon at the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Virgin Mary. As part of the Orthodox ceremony, attendants exchanged the rings and crowns worn by Juan Carlos and Sophia three times. The crowns were the same as those used during the wedding of Paul and Frederica in 1938.

Sophia was reported to be smiling throughout both ceremonies, although she did shed some tears toward the end of the Orthodox service. Queen Frederica was also said to have cried during the service. Juan Carlos put his arm around and offered Sophia his handkerchief to comfort. Not to be outdone by the Catholics, 22 Orthodox bishops assisted the Primate during the ceremony.

Upon leaving the Orthodox cathedral, a very excited Sophia nearly tripped over her long train. The couple descended the steps of the cathedral under a tunnel of swords held by eighteen Spanish officers, friends of Juan Carlos from the three Spanish military academies. Spanish royalists shouted, “Long live the King!” as the couple exited under a tunnel of swords. Sophia then threw her wedding bouquet, which was caught by Anne-Marie of Denmark, who married Sophia’s brother Constantine in 1964.

A short civil ceremony was held at the Greek Royal Palace following the religious services. Sophia would now be known as Sofia – the Spanish version of her name. A wedding banquet followed for guests attending the two religious ceremonies.

While most of the Greek public cheered the new couple with Greek and Spanish flags, the wedding was not universally popular. The heat of the wedding day also took a toll on several spectators. A 72-year-old Greek woman died of a heart attack during the festivities, and several others were treated for heat-related conditions.

Wedding Attire

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Sophia wore a dress of silver lame covered in layers of heirloom Bruges lace and tulle. The dress itself was rather simple in design, with fitted three-quarter-length sleeves, a flared skirt, and a jewel neckline. The twenty foot long white lame and organza train extended from the neck of the dress.

The dress was designed by Jean Desses, a French designer of Greek heritage and a favorite of Queen Frederica. The choice of a designer located in neither Greece nor Spain caused an uproar, which Sophia attempted to soothe by requesting the dress be cut in Paris and assembled in Athens by a Greek seamstress. Desses also designed most of the pieces of Sophia’s trousseau.

Sophia’s veil consisted of fifteen feet of heirloom Bruges lace. Queen Frederica had worn the same veil when she married Paul of Greece in 1938. Sophia’s shoes, designed by Roger Vivier for Jean Desses, were also covered in lace. She carried a bouquet of lilies of the valley, a traditional wedding flower.

Sophia chose to wear the tiara now known as the Prussian Diamond Tiara or Hellenic Tiara. This tiara was originally gifted from German Emperor Wilhelm II to his daughter Viktoria Luise upon her marriage to Ernst Augustus of Hanover. Viktoria Luise then passed it to her own daughter and Sophia’s mother, Frederica upon her marriage into the Greek royal family. Frederica, in turn, gave the tiara to Sophia as a wedding present. Very Hellenic in appearance, the platinum and diamond tiara features lines of pillars, Greek keys, and laurel surrounding an oval framing a single and free hanging pear-shaped diamond.

The eight bridesmaids each wore a strapless dress of silver lame gauze. The skirt of the dress had many shallow pleats, which flared out the lightweight material. The dress was covered by a pastel silk faille top with three-quarter length sleeves and scoop necklines. Narrow ribbons tied into small bows just below the bust and at the waist created a cummerbund-style effect. The bridesmaids also wore thick, braided headpieces that matched the dress and wore long white gloves during the ceremonies.

As he had served in all branches of the Spanish military, Juan Carlos had his choice of uniforms to sport on the wedding day, eventually wearing the olive green army uniform, possibly to please Generalissimo Franco. Like most royal grooms, Juan Carlos wore several of his many orders on his uniform. The Greek Order of the Redeemer was worn as the primary order, one of the oldest and most distinguished decorations awarded in Greece. Juan Carlos also wore several of his Spanish orders, including the Order of the Golden Fleece and the Order of Charles III.

Wedding Party

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Sophia chose a collection of eligible, young, European royal women born right around the beginning of World War II as her bridesmaids. The bridesmaids were:

  • Anne of Orléans, a daughter of Henri of Orléans, Count of Paris and pretender to the French throne, and his wife Isabelle of Orléans-Braganza, a princess of the old Brazilian empire.
  • Benedikte and Anne-Marie of Denmark, the two younger daughters of Frederik IX of Denmark and Ingrid of Sweden. Their elder sister Margrethe later became Queen of Denmark. Anne Marie also married Sophia’s brother Constantine in 1964.
  • Tatiana Radziwiłł, a distant cousin of Sophia’s and the daughter of Eugenie of Greece and Polish prince Dominik Radziwiłł.
  • Alexandra of Kent, a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and a granddaughter of King George V.
  • Irene of the Netherlands, the second daughter of Queen Juliana of the Netherlands and her consort, Bernhard of Schaumburg-Lippe. Irene was then a Spanish language student in Madrid. Her marriage two years later to Carlist pretender Carlos Hugo, Duke of Parma caused considerable controversy in her home country.
  • Pilar of Spain, the older sister of Juan Carlos.
  • Irene of Greece, Sophia’s younger sister.

King Paul and several European princes served as crown bearers during the Orthodox service. Besides Paul, the crown bearers were:

  • Crown Prince Constantine of Greece, Sophia’s younger brother.
  • Michael of Greece, Sophia’s cousin.
  • Amedeo, Duke of Aosta, a distant cousin of Juan Carlos and Sophia.
  • Ludwig Wilhelm of Baden, a distant cousin of Sophia (and of Philip, Duke of Edinburgh).
  • Victor Emmanuel, Prince of Naples, son of Umberto II of Italy.
  • Don Marco Alfonso Torlonia, 6th Prince of Civitella-Cesi, a cousin of Juan Carlos.
  • Christian of Hanover, Sophia’s uncle.
  • Carlos of the Bourbon-Two Sicilies, Duke of Calabria, a distant cousin of Juan Carlos.

Michael and Amedeo doubled as Sophia’s witnesses for the civil wedding. In addition, two relatives of Juan Carlos, Alfonso of Orléans and Alfonso of Bourbon and Dampierre, served as his witnesses.

Wedding Guests

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Many members of Europe’s ruling and non-ruling families attended the wedding. The guest list would be short for a royal wedding, given the capacities of the relatively small venues of the Cathedral of St. Denis and the Metropolitan Cathedral. Additionally, a number of dignitaries, nobility, and other prominent non-royal guests would also need to be accommodated. As a compromise, half of the royal guests would attend the Catholic wedding ceremony, the other half would attend the Orthodox service.  Notable guests included:

King Olav V of Norway
Queen Ingrid of Denmark
Prince Constantine of the Hellenes
King Paul I and Queen Frederika of the Hellenes
Queen Juliana of the Netherlands
Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace of Monaco
Princess Claude of Orléans
Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands
Former King Umberto II and Queen Marie-Jose of Italy
Former King Michael and Queen Anne of Romania
Prince Franz Josef II of Liechtenstein
Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg and Grand Duchess Josephine
Henri and Isabella, Count and Countess of Paris
Helen of Greece, former Queen Mother of Romania
Victoria Eugenie (Ena) of Battenburg, former Queen of Spain
Tomislav of Yugoslavia
Lord Louis Mountbatten, Earl Mountbatten of Burma
Robert, Duke of Parma
Alfonso, Duke of Calabria
Luis of Orleans-Braganza, Prince Imperial of Brazil
Ernest August V of Hanover
Amadeo, Duke of Aosta
Duarte Pio of Braganza
Philip of Württemberg
Philip of Hesse
Marina, Duchess of Kent
Franz of Bavaria
Friedrich-Franz V of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Spanish naval minister Felipe Abarzuza y Oliva (official representative of Generalissimo Franco)

Wedding Gifts

Sophia and Juan Carlos received numerous wedding gifts from around the world. American President John F. Kennedy sent a golden cigarette box. Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco (later good friends of the new couple) provided a new sailboat (El Fortuna) and Greek shipping magnate George Goulandris gave the couple a yacht, both apt presents for gifted sailors.
From her family, Sophia received several gifts including a silver tea set, Greek silk bed linens, silverware, and a set of gold bracelets encrusted in gemstones. Juan Carlos’ parents gave Sophia a diamond and pearl tiara and pearl earrings. Even Generalissimo Franco showed his affection for the couple by gifting a diamond brooch. Sophia, likely aware of her new position in Spain, sent a personal letter of thanks to Franco.
Eager to take additional Greek-made items to her new home, Sophia was happy to receive various local crafts from areas around the country. Aside from the Goulandris yacht, Juan Carlos and Sophia were also given gifts of smaller watercraft and cars from various other Greek shipping tycoons. When by an agricultural organization for her choice of a wedding gift, Sophia request a laurel tree planted at the couple’s future home, so as to remind her of her home in Greece.

Generalissimo Franco and the Wedding

Generalissimo Francisco Franco announced before the ceremony that the Spanish monarchy would likely one day be restored following his rule. The wedding and Sophia’s conversion to Roman Catholicism added fuel to the rumors that the succession would pass the Count of Barcelona in favor of Juan Carlos and Sophia. Monarchists were said to happily approve of a union between their prince (and likely heir) and a royal princess of a ruling house.
Franco declined an invitation to the wedding, sending instead his naval minister Felipe Abarzuza y Oliva. Franco further allowed ample press coverage of the wedding, an action that was viewed as highly unusual and encouraging to monarchists. Two major newspapers were allowed to publish full front page photos of the couple with accompanying articles. A third newspaper carried front page articles on the wedding, while photographs of the event were shown on state television.
In celebration of the wedding, Generalissimo Franco bestowed the Collar of the Order of Charles III on both Juan Carlos and Sophia. This honor was and still is typically given only to Spanish monarchs.
Franco permitted only one photo of the Count of Barcelona to be published in Spain, which was placed in the newspaper’s classified ads. At the time of the wedding, reports of Franco bypassing the Count of Barcelona and naming Juan Carlos as his successor were still seen as high unlikely.

The Honeymoon

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A few weeks after the wedding, Juan Carlos and Sophia set out on a cruise of several Greek islands aboard the Greek yacht Eros, followed by a much longer trip around the world. The two made stops in Greece, Spain, Monaco, Italy, India, Thailand, the United States, and Japan. President Kennedy wished the couple good luck during a visit in August 1962. The honeymoon lasted several months as talks between Generalissimo Franco and the Count of Barcelona took place on the future of the Spanish monarchy.
No final decision had been made when the couple returned in the late summer of 1962, forcing the two to embark on several extended stays with relatives in Switzerland, Portugal, and Greece as they had no permanent home.

New Couples

A gathering of such a large number of reigning and non-reigning European royals often resulted in talk of “who’s next” to be married. These types of rumors had followed royal weddings for decades. As so many of the participants in Sophia’s and Juan Carlos’ wedding were young, prominent, and eligible royals, the gossip mill was ripe in the weeks and months that followed. As expected, no relationships materialized for many of these possible new couples.

However, out of the wedding festivities of Sophia and Juan Carlos emerged a surprising amount of bona fide new royal couples. This included a set of sisters who became reacquainted with their respective new husbands during the wedding events.

Irene of the Netherlands was already a student in Spain when she was asked to serve as a bridesmaid for Sophia. Carlos Hugo of Bourbon-Parma, a son of the Carlist pretender to the Spanish throne may have met Irene at the wedding (or shortly before it) and the couple began to see one another not long after. Irene’s conversion to Catholicism and marriage to Carlos Hugo in 1964 created enormous controversy in the bride’s home country. Objectors pointed to years of Spanish rule of the Netherlands by Spain, fears of Generalissimo Franco’s regime, and Irene’s proximity to the throne. No one from the Dutch royal family attended the wedding and Irene gave up her rights of succession to the throne. The couple had four children, but separated in 1980 and divorced the following year.

Bridesmaid Anne of Orléans became reacquainted with childhood friend (and crown bearer) Carlos, Duke of Calabria during their involvement with Sophia’s and Juan Carlos’ wedding. The couple married in 1965, and has five children and eighteen grandchildren.

Anne’s sister Claude began seeing another crown bearer, Amedeo, Duke of Aosta, shortly after the wedding. The couple announced their engagement in 1963 and married the following year. Claude and Amedeo had three children before separating in the mid-1970s and divorcing a few years later.

Sophia’s brother Constantine had become acquainted with Anne-Marie of Denmark (another bridesmaid) during a state visit to Denmark a few years before. He had expressed interest in eventually marrying Anne-Marie shortly before the Spanish-Greek wedding, and the two spent a great deal of time together during the festivities. The engagement was announced in early 1963 when Anne-Marie was just sixteen. Constantine and Anne-Marie were married in September of 1964, just weeks after her eighteenth birthday. As of 2012, the couple has five children and nine grandchildren.

Princess Sophie of Greece and Denmark

by Scott Mehl

Sophie of Greece and Denmark in 1955, with her daughter Friederike. Photo source: Daily Mail

Princess Sophie of Greece and Denmark, Princess of Hesse, Princess of Hanover

Princess Sophie of Greece and Denmark was the third daughter of Prince Andreas of Greece and Denmark and Princess Alice of Battenberg. Known in the family as “Tiny”, she was born on March 25, 1915 at Mon Repos on the isle of Corfu, Greece. She had four siblings:

Because of the unstable political situation in Greece, Sophie spent several years living in Switzerland, d later settled in France in the early 1920s. However, the family was soon pulled apart. Her mother suffered a nervous breakdown and was institutionalized in 1930, and her father had basically given up on his marriage and spent most of his time with a mistress on the French Riviera. So it was no surprise when Sophie, at just 16 years old, became engaged to be married. She would be the first of the sisters to marry, but the others followed within the following year. On December 15, 1930 at Schloss Friedrichshof in Kronberg, Sophie married Prince Christoph of Hesse, in both Orthodox and Lutheran ceremonies. He was the son of Prince Friedrich Karl of Hesse and Princess Margarete of Prussia. Sophie and Christoph were second cousins once removed through their mutual descent from Queen Victoria. They had five children:

  • Princess Christina of Hesse (1933) – married (1) Prince Andrej of Yugoslavia, had issue; (2) Robert van Eyck, had issue
  • Princess Dorothea of Hesse (1934) – married Prince Friedrich Karl of Windisch-Grätz, had issue
  • Prince Karl of Hesse (1937) – married Countess Yvonne Szapáry von Muraszombath, Széchysziget and Szapár, had issue
  • Prince Rainer of Hesse (1939) – unmarried
  • Princess Clarissa of Hesse (1944) – married Jean-Claude Derrin (div), had issue

Sophie and Christoph lived in Berlin, where he worked in an insurance company, as well as serving as a reserve officer in the Luftwaffe. At the outbreak of World War II, Christoph entered active service, serving as a navigator in a bomb squadron, and later transferred to a fighter squadron in Tunisia and Sicily. In October 1943, Hitler recalled all the German princes from active service. Christoph was en route back to Germany when his plane crashed on October 7 and he was killed.

Sophie, meanwhile, had been living with her mother-in-law at Schloss Friedrichshof, with her five children. She was also raising the four children of her brother-in-law, Prince Philip of Hesse, who had been imprisoned in 1943. Forced to leave Friedrichshof when the American troops arrived, Sophie and her family moved to Schloss Wolfsgarten, the family home of the former Grand Dukes of Hesse and by Rhine.

Sophie married a second time on April 23, 1946, in Salem, Baden. Her husband was Prince Georg Wilhelm of Hanover, the son of Ernst August III, Duke of Brunswick and Princess Viktoria Luise of Prussia. Sophie and Georg Wilhelm were second cousins. This marriage is the only known case where the British sovereign withheld permission to marry, under the Royal Marriages Act of 1772. Although Germany and Britain were at war, the groom’s father still requested consent from King George VI. The King wished to let them know that it would be inappropriate to give his consent due to the war, but the British government would not allow it. Therefore, the request went unanswered, meaning that the marriage was not recognized under British law. Sophie and Georg had three children:

Throughout her life, Sophie was very close with her brother, The Duke of Edinburgh. Although not invited to Philip’s wedding because of her German ties, Sophie and her husband paid a private visit shortly after the wedding, spending time with Philip and Elizabeth at Birkhall. Six years later, Sophie and her surviving sisters, and their families, were all in attendance for Elizabeth’s coronation. The families visited often, and Sophie was a regular guest at the Windsor Royal Horse Show each year, as well as most private family events. In 1964, she was named as one of the godparents for Philip’s youngest son, Prince Edward. In 1994, Sophie and Philip traveled to Jerusalem, where their mother was posthumously honored as Righteous Among the Nations for her efforts to help Jewish families during the war.

Sophie and Philip in Jerusalem, 1994.

In her later years, Sophie lived in Schliersee, near Munich, with her husband. She also regularly visited Princess Margaret of Hesse and by Rhine (the wife of Prince Ludwig) who was among her closest friends. In the summer of 2001, with her health failing, Sophie moved to a nursing home in Munich, where she later died on November 24, 2001. She was buried in the cemetery in Schliersee, and a memorial service was held two months later at Schloss Wolfsgarten, attended by The Duke of Edinburgh.

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Princess Cecilie of Greece, Hereditary Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine

by Scott Mehl

source: Wikipedia

Princess Cecilie of Greece and Denmark, Hereditary Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine

Princess Cecilie of Greece and Denmark was born at Tatoi Palace on June 22, 1911. She was the third daughter of Prince Andreas of Greece and Denmark and Princess Alice of Battenberg. Cecilie had four siblings:

Cecilie with her husband and two sons, c1933. photo: personal collection

On February 2, 1931, in Darmstadt, Cecilie married her first cousin once removed, Georg Donatus, Hereditary Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine. He was the son of Ernst Ludwig, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine and Princess Eleonore of Solms-Hohensolms-Lich. Cecilie and Georg Donatus (known as Don) had three children:

Cecilie’s life came to a tragic end on November 16, 1937. A very pregnant Cecilie, her husband, their two sons, and her mother-in-law, were traveling by plane to London to attend the wedding of Don’s brother, Prince Ludwig and Margaret Geddes four days later. Facing bad weather, the plane was unable to land in Brussels as scheduled and was instead diverted to Ostend. While attempting to land, the plane clipped a chimney on a factory near the airport, and the plane crashed leaving no survivors.

Having received the news, a private wedding ceremony was hastily arranged for Ludwig and Margaret the following day. They then traveled to Belgium to accompany the bodies back to Darmstadt. A funeral was held a few days later, attended by all of Cecilie’s family. Cecilie and her family were all buried in the burial ground next to the New Mausoleum in the Rosenhöhe.

Ludwig and Margaret adopted Cecilie and Don’s only surviving child, Princess Johanna. Sadly, less than two years later, Johanna contracted meningitis and died. She was buried alongside the rest of her family.

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Princess Theodora of Greece, Margravine of Baden

by Scott Mehl
Princess Theodora of Greece and Denmark, Margravine of Baden

Princess Theodora of Greece and Denmark was born on May 30, 1906 at Tatoi Palace, the second daughter of Prince Andreas of Greece and Denmark and Princess Alice of Battenberg. She had four siblings:

Theodora with her sisters in 1922. (l-r) Margarita, Cecilie, Theodora, Sophie.

Raised primarily in Greece, Theodora and her family had to leave Greece several times due to the political unrest and repeated overthrow of the monarchy.  They spent several years living in Switzerland and later settled outside of Paris.  After her mother suffered a nervous breakdown in 1930, Theodora and her sisters were quickly married, all into formal German royal families.

On August 17, 1931, Theodora married Berthold, Margrave of Baden. He was the son of Maximilian, Margrave of Baden and Princess Marie Luise of Hanover. The couple was second cousins through their mutual descent from King Christian IX of Denmark. They took up residence at Schloss Salem had three children:

Theodora with her husband and two elder children, c1936. source: private collection

In her later years, Princess Theodora spent time with her children and grandchildren and made occasional visits to England to see her brother Philip and his family.  At just 63 years old, she died in Büdingen in Hesse on October 16, 1969, just five weeks before the death of her mother. She was buried alongside her husband in the family cemetery in Salem.

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Princess Margarita of Greece, Princess of Hohenlohe-Langenburg

by Scott Mehl

Margarita, Princess of Hohenlohe-Langenburg. photo: private collection

Princess Margarita of Greece and Denmark, Princess of Hohenlohe-Langenburg

Princess Margarita of Greece and Denmark was born on April 18, 1905 at the Royal Palace in Athens. She was the eldest child of Prince Andreas of Greece and Denmark and Princess Alice of Battenberg, and was the first great-great-grandchild of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. Margarita had four younger siblings:

1930-1931 saw the marriages of Margarita and her three sisters. Although she was the eldest, Margarita was the third to marry. Her groom was Gottfried, Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg. He was the son of Ernst II, Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg and Princess Alexandra of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Margarita and Gottfried were second cousins once removed through their mutual descent from Queen Victoria, and third cousins through Tsar Nicholas I of Russia. They married in Langenburg on April 20, 1931, and had five children:

  • Kraft, Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg (1935) – married (1) Princess Charlotte of Croÿ, had issue; married (2) Irma Pospesch, no issue
  • Princess Beatrix of Hohenlohe-Langenburg (1936) – unmarried
  • Prince Georg Andreas of Hohenlohe-Langenburg (1938) – married Luise, Princess of Schönburg-Waldenburg, had issue
  • Prince Rupprecht of Hohenlohe-Langenburg (1944) – unmarried
  • Prince Albrecht of Hohenlohe-Langenburg (1944) – married Maria-Hildegard Fischer, had issue

In 1934, Margarita and her husband traveled to New York to testify in the famous custody battle for the young Gloria Vanderbilt. Gottfried had at one time been in a romantic relationship her mother, Mrs. Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, and during the custody hearing, a housemaid made some rather salacious allegations about the relationship between the two. Margarita also testified as a character witness for Mrs. Vanderbilt.

Although Margarita and her sisters were not invited to their brother Philip’s wedding (due to the strong anti-German sentiment so soon after the war), she and Philip remained close, and in 1950, she was named as one of the godparents for Philip’s daughter, Princess Anne. In 1953, Margarita, her surviving sisters and their mother, were prominent guests at the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

After being widowed in 1960, Margarita maintained a quiet life in Langenburg, visiting with her children and grandchildren, as well as occasional trips to visit Philip and his family in the UK. At the age of 76, Princess Margarita died in Langenburg on April 24, 1961. She is buried beside her husband in the family cemetery.

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Prince Andreas of Greece

by Scott Mehl

Photo source: The Peerage

Prince Andreas of Greece

Prince Andreas of Greece and Denmark (typically known as Andrew) was born February 2 1882, in Athens, Greece, the son of King George I of the Hellenes and Grand Duchess Olga Konstantinovna of Russia. At the time of his birth, he was 4th in line to the Greek throne behind his three brothers.  Andreas had 7 siblings:

As a child, he was considered to be more ‘Greek’ than most of his siblings, refusing to speak anything but Greek with his parents, despite also speaking several other languages. His education was mostly in military schools and led to his joining the Greek forces at the age of 19.

Prince Andreas and Princess Alice, c1903.  source: Wikipedia

At the coronation of King Edward VII of the United Kingdom in August 1902, Andreas first met Princess Alice of Battenberg. She was the eldest daughter of Prince Ludwig of Battenberg and Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine (later the Marquess and Marchioness of Milford Haven). The couple married in Darmstadt in a civil ceremony on October 6, 1903, followed by both Lutheran and Greek Orthodox ceremonies. Over the next 18 years, they had five children:

Prince Andreas military service was often interrupted by the political turmoil in Greece. In the early years, he resigned from the army following a coup d’état in 1909. He later returned in 1912 and found in the Balkan Wars. Following the abdication of his brother, King Constantine I, in 1917, Andreas went into exile along with most of the Greek royal family. Upon Constantine’s return to the throne in 1920, Andreas was also reinstated in the Greek Army and saw service in the Greco-Turkish War. Following another coup d’état in 1922, Andreas was arrested and court-martialled. He was found guilty and faced possible death. Through the efforts of King George V of the United Kingdom, arrangements were made for Andreas to be spared and with his family, he went into exile again. The family settled in Saint-Cloud, on the outskirts of Paris.

Prince Andrew and his family in 1928

Prince Andreas and his family in 1928

He spent the next several years defending his actions during his military service in Greece, even writing a book in 1930 – Towards Disaster: The Greek Army in Asia Minor in 1921.  By the early 1930s, Andreas had less and less contact with his family.  His wife and suffered a nervous breakdown and was institutionalized, his four daughters had all married into former German royal families, and his son was attending school first in Germany and then in the United Kingdom.  Somewhat at a loss, having been basically forced into a life of retirement, Andreas moved to the French Riviera.  There, he enjoyed a life of leisure, spending much of his time living aboard the yacht of his mistress, Countess Andrée de La Bigne.

Andreas only returned to Greece once, in 1936, after Greece had reversed his exile, and restored assets to the Greek royal family.  The following year, tragedy brought the family together.  In November 1937, Andreas’s daughter Cecilie, along with her husband, two sons, and mother-in-law, were killed in a plane crash in Belgium. Andreas attended the funeral in Darmstadt, where he was reunited with his wife and son for the first time in six years.  However, the reunion was short-lived, and Prince Andreas soon returned to his life in France.

The onset of World War II brought an end to the little contact Andreas had with his wife and children.  His wife had returned to Greece, his daughters were all behind German lines, and his son was fighting for the British forces.  His hopes of once again seeing his children soon came to and end.  Prince Andreas died at the Metropole Hotel in Monte Carlo on December 3, 1944, at the age of 62.  By that time, it had been five years since he had seen his wife or son.  He was initially buried at the Russian Orthodox Church in Nice, and in 1946, his remains were reinterred in the royal cemetery at Tatoi Palace in Greece.

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Princess Alice of Battenberg, Princess Andreas of Greece

by Scott Mehl

Princess Alice, c1967.

Princess Alice of Battenberg, Princess Andreas of Greece and Denmark

Princess Alice of Battenberg was the mother of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria. She was born HSH Princess Victoria Alice Elisabeth Julia Maria on February 25, 1885, in the Tapestry Room at Windsor Castle. Her parents were Prince Ludwig (Louis) of Battenberg, later 1st Marquess of Milford Haven, and Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine. She was the eldest child, with three younger siblings:

Alice was christened in Darmstadt on April 25, 1885, with the following godparents:

As a child, Alice was diagnosed with congenital deafness and learned to lip-read in both English and German. Later, she also learned French and Greek. Her childhood was spent in Darmstadt and Jugenheim (German), as well as London and Malta where her father was stationed. The family was very close to their British relatives, and Alice served as a bridesmaid at the 1893 wedding of the future King George V of the United Kingdom and Princess Mary of Teck. They were also very close to their Russian relatives (Alice’s aunt was the Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna), and often spent holidays together in Darmstadt.

At the 1902 coronation of her great-uncle, King Edward VII of the United Kingdom, Alice met Prince Andreas of Greece and Denmark. They quickly fell in love and were married in a civil ceremony in Darmstadt on October 6, 1903. The following day, two religious ceremonies were held – one Lutheran and one Greek Orthodox. Their wedding was one of the last large gatherings of European royals before World War I. The couple settled into a wing of the Royal Palace in Athens, and went on to have five children:

While Andreas pursued his military career, Alice raised her family and became very involved in charity work in Greece. However, the political situation in Greece was often tenuous, and the family was forced into exile several times. They lived in Switzerland for several years before King Constantine was restored to the Greek throne in 1920. Their return to Greece was short-lived. In 1922, the King was forced to abdicate, and Prince Andreas was arrested and charged with treason. He was court-martialed and convicted and would have probably been executed had it not been for the intervention of Alice’s cousin, King George V of the United Kingdom. King George sent a British cruiser – HMS Calypso to take Andreas, Alice, and their children safely into exile.

The family settled in Saint-Cloud, outside of Paris, in a small house owned by Andreas’s sister-in-law, Princess George of Greece (the former Marie Bonaparte). There, Alice worked in a charity shop for Greek refugees and became very religious. On October 20, 1928, she very quietly converted to the Greek Orthodox Church. Soon, Alice began to show signs of mental illness. In 1930, following a nervous breakdown, Princess Alice was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. She was institutionalized in a sanatorium in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland, under the care of Dr. Ludwig Binswanger. After two years in Kreuzlingen, and a brief stay at a clinic in Merano, Italy, she was released. It would be another four years before she had contact with her children, having only maintained ties with her mother. During her absence, all four of her daughters had married and begun their own families. Sadly, it was a tragic event which brought Alice back into contact with her children. On November 16, 1937, Alice’s daughter Cecilie, along with her husband, two children, and mother-in-law, were killed in a plane crash in Belgium. Alice attended the funeral in Darmstadt, reconnecting with her surviving children, and meeting her husband for the first time in six years.

In 1938, Alice returned to Greece, continuing her work with the poor. Along with her sister-in-law, Princess Nicholas of Greece (the former Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia), Alice worked with the Red Cross during World War II to organize shelters and nurses in the poor neighborhoods of Athens. Alice and Elena had been the only two members of the Greek Royal Family to remain in the country, while the rest had gone into exile in South Africa. In 1943, after the German Army had occupied Athens, and while most Jews were being deported to concentration camps, Alice hid a Jewish widow, Rachel Cohen, and two of her children in her home. Thirty years earlier, Mrs. Cohen’s husband had come to the aid of King George I of Greece, and the King had offered to someday repay him if there was ever anything he could do for him. Mrs. Cohen remembered this promise and reached out to Princess Alice. Alice, who saw both the opportunity to repay the debt and the help save their lives, took the family in, risking her own life in doing so. The following year, she was widowed when Prince Andreas died in Monte Carlo. The two had not seen each other since 1939.

In November 1947, Alice returned to Britain for her son’s wedding. Some of her jewels were used to create Elizabeth’s engagement ring, as well as a bracelet that Philip designed for her as a wedding gift. On November 20, 1947, Alice attended the wedding, although none of her daughters had been invited (due to their marriages to Germans, and the still-strong anti-German sentiment after the war). In the group photo from the wedding above, Princess Alice is seen in the front row, standing next to Queen Mary. Alice’s mother, the Dowager Marchioness of Milford Haven is seen on the far right, next to King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

Just over a year later, Princess Alice founded a nursing order of nuns, the Christian Sisterhood of Martha and Mary. She established a home for the order just north of Athens and trained on the Greek island of Tinos. In order to raise funds to support the order, Alice made two tours of the United States. Many were perplexed by this venture – none more so than her own mother, the Dowager Marchioness of Milford Haven, who reportedly said: “What can you say of a nun who smokes and plays canasta?” Unfortunately, the order didn’t last very long, due to a limited number of applicants. But Alice continued with her work supporting those in need and dressed as a nun for the rest of her life.

Alice leading her family’s procession at the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, June 1953

On June 2, 1953, Princess Alice attended the coronation of her daughter-in-law, Queen Elizabeth II, at Westminster Abbey in London. Wearing a gown designed to look like a nun’s habit, she led the formal procession of Philip’s family, including his three surviving sisters and his uncle, Prince George of Greece.

photo: Hello!

Alice remained in Greece, working to help the poor and those in need. However, as the political situation worsened, and with her children’s growing concern for her safety, it soon became obvious that she would need to leave the country that she’d grown to love so much since first arriving in 1903. She left Greece in 1967 following the Colonels’ Coup, and was invited by her son and daughter-in-law to take up residence at Buckingham Palace in London. She died there on December 5, 1969, at the age of 84. Following her funeral, her remains were placed in the Royal Crypt at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor. However, she had previously expressed her wish to be buried near her aunt, Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, at the Convent of Saint Mary Magdalene on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. On August 3, 1988 – nearly 19 years after her death – her remains were moved to Jerusalem and placed in a crypt below the church.

Prince Charles visiting his grandmother’s tomb, September 2016. photo: Clarence House/PA

On October 31, 1994, Princess Alice was posthumously recognized as Righteous Among the Nations for her sheltering of persecuted Jews during World War II. And in 2010, she was named a Hero of the Holocaust by the British Government.

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Princess Helen of Greece, Queen Mother of Romania

by Scott Mehl

source: Wikipedia

Princess Helen of Greece, Queen Mother of Romania

Princess Helen of Greece and Denmark, Queen Mother of Romania, was the second wife of King Carol II of Romania, the eldest son of King Ferdinand of Romania and Princess Marie of Edinburgh. She was born on May 2, 1896 in Athens, the third of six children of King Constantine I of the Hellenes and Princess Sophie of Prussia. Her siblings were:

Helen (left) with her brothers and sister Irene (seated), 1904. source: Wikipedia

Helen was educated at home by tutors and governesses and was particularly close with her brother, Alexander. Their family life was often disrupted by the political tension in Greece, and the family spent several years in exile. Following her grandfather’s assassination in 1913, Helen’s father became King of the Hellenes. However, he would be forced from the throne in 1917. The family settled in Switzerland, while Helen’s brother, Alexander, was chosen to replace his father.

Helen and Carol, 1921. source: Wikipedia

It was while in exile in 1920 that the Greek royal family was visited by Queen Marie of Romania and her daughters. This resulted in the engagement of Helen’s brother, the future King George II of the Hellenes, and Princess Elisabeta of Romania, Carol’s sister. The group was soon joined by Carol who was returning from a trip around the world, intended to separate him from his first (and former) wife, Zizi Lambrino. After traveling together to Romania for the engagement announcement, they returned together to Switzerland and became closer on the journey. After returning, Carol asked Helen’s father for her hand in marriage, and their engagement was announced in November 1920. They married on March 10, 1921, at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens, and following a honeymoon, returned to Romania. The couple had one son:

The couple had apartments at Cotroceni Palace, but lived at the château de Foisor on the grounds of Peleș Castle, and later moved to a house in Bucharest. The marriage was not a happy one. Helen was very proper and aristocratic, while Carol preferred spending his time partying with his friends, and in the company of other women. Within a few years, Carol began an affair with Magda Lupescu, and in 1925 he renounced his rights to the throne and left the country. Helen was given the title Princess of Romania.

In July 1927, King Ferdinand died, and Helen’s son Mihai ascended the throne at just five years old. Despite being the mother of the King, Helen had no official position, nor was she a member of the Regency Council. At the end of that year, Carol asked Helen for a divorce, which she initially refused. However, she later gave in to the advice of the government, and the couple was formally divorced on June 21, 1928.

In June 1930, Carol returned to Romania following a coup organized by Prime Minister Iuliu Maniu. The parliament voided his previous renunciation of the throne, and he was proclaimed King. Helen remained at their home in Bucharest with her son, while there was a significant discussion, both publicly and within the government, about annulling the couple’s divorce. Helen was told that since the 1926 renunciation was voided, she had technically become Queen of Romania when her father-in-law died in 1927. However, when presented with a decree from the government to confirm Helen as Her Majesty The Queen of Romania, Carol refused, insisting that she should be styled Her Majesty Helen.

Helen and her son, Mihai, in London, 1932. source: Wikipedia

While Helen considered the annulment of their divorce, Carol was adamantly against it. Faced with harsh treatment from Carol – guards placed around her home, visitors harassed – Helen left Romania, and traveled to her mother’s home in Italy. After she returned in 1932, King Carol began a media campaign to damage her reputation. The government finally interceded, announcing that she would be permitted to live in Romania for six months each year and take her son abroad for one month. They also confirmed her civil list payment. Despite all of this, she was expected to remain abroad. She purchased a home in Italy, and in 1934, moved into Villa Sparta – her mother’s former home – along with her brother Paul and two sisters. She remained there for ten years, only seeing her son for a month or two each year.

Villa Sparta. photo by By I, Sailko, source: Wikipedia

In 1940, Carol was forced to abdicate, and Mihai returned to the throne. Helen was called back to Romania and given the formal title Her Majesty the Queen Mother of Romania. Helen served as a close advisor to her son, and encouraged him to stand up to Prime Minister Ion Antonescu who had established himself as dictator.

During World War II, she devoted herself to caring for the wounded, and in 1942 she played a major role in stopping Antonescu’s plans to deport the Jews. For this, she was later awarded the status Righteous Among the Nations (in 1993, nearly eleven years after her death). By 1947, Romania was under Communist control, and Helen and King Mihai were treated very harshly. When the traveled to London for the wedding of Helen’s cousin, Philip Mountbatten, to Princess Elizabeth of the United Kingdom, many in the Romanian government hoped that they would not return. Despite being urged to remain in London, the two returned to Romania on December 21, 1947. Within days, King Mihai was forced to relinquish the throne, with threats of mass executions if he did not agree to abdicate. The country was proclaimed a republic and Mihai and Helen left Romania on January 3, 1948.

They settled in Switzerland, where they found themselves in poor financial circumstances. They had most of their assets and properties seized by the Romanian government, and had been stripped of their citizenship. Helen’s biggest concern was the upcoming marriage of her son to Princess Anne of Bourbon-Parma. Due to Anne’s Catholicism, most of her family refused to attend as the Pope would not sanction the marriage. Instead, Helen’s brother, King George II of the Hellenes, arranged for the couple to marry in Athens in June 1948.

Helen then returned to Villa Sparta in Italy, often hosting her son and his growing family, as well as her sister Irene and her son. She also traveled often to England and Greece to visit family, and participated in the Cruise of the Kings in 1954, hosted by her brother, King Paul of the Hellenes, and sister-in-law, Princess Frederica of Hanover. She also indulged her love of Renaissance painting and architecture, spending much of her time visiting museums and exhibits. Her love of gardening also led to a romance with the twice-widowed King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden, who reportedly proposed marriage but Helen declined. Always struggling financially, Helen was forced to sell off many of her remaining assets, and eventually had to give up Villa Sparta.

Grave of Queen Mother Helen of Romania. Photo by krischnig, source: Wikipedia

In 1979, now facing the effects of age as well as finances, Helen left Italy and settled in a small apartment in Lausanne, Switzerland. She later moved in with her son and his family. On November 28, 1982, Princess Helen of Greece, Queen Mother of Romania, died in Lausanne. She is buried at the Bois-de-Vaux Cemetery in Lausanne.

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Princess Frederica of Hanover, Queen of the Hellenes

source: Wikipedia

Princess Frederica of Hanover, Queen of the Hellenes

Queen Frederica was the wife of King Paul of the Hellenes, and the mother of the last Greek king, Constantine II. She was born Princess Frederica Louisa Thyra Victoria Margareta Sophie Olga Cécilie Isabelle Christa of Hanover, on April 18, 1917 in Blankenburg am Harz, in the Duchy of Brunswick. She was the daughter of Ernst August (III) of Hanover, Duke of Brunswick, and Princess Viktoria Luise of Prussia, and had four brothers:

Although known as Princess Frederica of Hanover, this was merely by courtesy. The Kingdom of Hanover had ceased to exist after being annexed by Prussia in 1866. She was, however, a Duchess of Brunswick, as her father had been the reigning Duke of Brunswick since 1913. This title would also become merely courtesy after her father was forced to abdicate in 1918. And to confuse things further, at the time of her birth she was also a British princess! In 1914, King George V of the United Kingdom had issued Letters Patent granting the title of Prince/Princess of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, with the style of Highness, to any children born to The Duke and Duchess of Brunswick. (You can read the Letters Patent here.)

Wedding of Paul and Frederica, 1938. source: Greek Royal Family

Wedding of Paul and Frederica, 1938. source: Greek Royal Family

While studying in Florence in 1935, Frederica began a romance with the future King Paul of the Hellenes. First cousins once removed, they had first met in 1927, and again in 1934 at the wedding of Princess Marina of Greece and Prince George, Duke of Kent. Paul soon asked her father for permission to marry, but the Duke of Brunswick refused, based on Frederica’s age. However, in 1936, while both were attending the Olympic Games in Berlin in 1936, Paul proposed again and this time the answer was yes. Their engagement was formally announced on September 28, 1937, and the couple married at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens on January 8, 1938. They soon settled at a villa in the Psychiko district of Athens, and went on to have three children:

In 1941, the Greek royal family were evacuated to Crete and then forced to flee the German invasion. She and her children eventually settled in South Africa and then Egypt. They returned to Greece in September 1946, following a referendum to restore King George II to the throne. Just seven months later, on April 1, 1947, King George died and Paul became King of the Hellenes. As the country was in the midst of civil war, Queen Frederica set up a group of camps around Greece, to provide shelter, food and education for orphans and needy children. Following the war, Frederica and her husband traveled extensively, building support for the monarchy as well as promoting Greece throughout the world. Despite this, there was always a faction who were against the monarchy, and The Queen in particular. Her membership, as a child, in the Bund Deutscher Mädel (League of German Girls) – a branch of the Hitler Youth – made her a target of the anti-monarchists. In addition, she was known for publicly straying into politics, even campaigning against the election of Prime Minister Papagos in 1952. Many historians feel that Frederica’s forays into politics contributed to the instability of the monarchy. (In 1974 when her son was campaigning for a restoration of the monarchy, one of the things he promised was to keep his mother out of Greece and its politics).

On March 6, 1964, King Paul died of cancer, and was succeeded by his son, King Constantine II. Later that year, Constantine married Princess Anne Marie of Denmark, giving Greece a new Queen. Frederica stepped aside, allowing her new daughter-in-law to take center stage. However, she was accused in the media of being the ‘power behind the throne’. In response, the Dowager Queen relinquished her appanage from the State and retired from public life. While she remained active in family and social events, she stayed out of the official, and political, spotlight.

In 1967, the Greek Royal Family was once again forced to leave the country following a failed counter-coup led by King Constantine II. They settled in Rome, and Queen Frederica and her daughter Irene spent some time living in India. In later years, she would divide her time between her son’s home in the United Kingdom, and that of her elder daughter, Sofia, in Spain.

On February 6, 1981, after undergoing cataract surgery in Madrid, Queen Frederica died from a massive heart attack. After receiving permission from the Greek government, she was buried beside her late husband in the Royal Cemetery at Tatoi Palace. Her son and his family were permitted to attend but had to leave immediately after the burial.

Grave of King Paul and Queen Frederica; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

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