January 13, 1932 death of Sophia of Prussia, Queen consort of Greece.
Sophia of Prussia, Queen of Greece by Voigt | Grand Ladies | gogm
Princess Sophie Dorothea Ulrike Alice of Prussia was born June 14, 1870 at the New Palace in Potsdam. Sophie was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. Her mother was Victoria's eldest daughter Victoria, Princess Royal. Her father was Crown Prince Frederick of Prussia at the time of her birth (since 1861). Her grandfather King Wilhelm of Prussia would become Emperor of Germany in 1871 elevating her parents to Crown prince and princess of Germany. Her father would become German Emperor Frederick III in 1888.
Her parents had 8 children of which Sophie was 7th born. She had four brothers and 3 sisters. Her siblings included Wilhelm II. Two brothers died young.
Her three eldest siblings were very close to their paternal grandparents. In contract the three younger daughters were all but ignored by them. The three girls were extremely close to their mother. She grew up with a love for English culture thanks to this bond, and her mother modeled the nursery for her girls after her own childhood in England.
In contrast to her cold paternal grandparents, Sophia was very close to Victoria. She would often spend long periods of time with her grandmother in the UK.
In 1884 Prince Constantine of Greece at 16 was sent to Germany to do military training for 2 years. Following a long visit in England with her grandmother for her golden Jubilee, Sophia returned home and got to know Constantine.
They met again at the funeral of her grandfather in 1888 and soon fell in love. They were officially engaged in September 1888. The wedding was not seen positively by her brother Wilhelm, nor by her future mother in law Olga. But it was scheduled for the following year. Unfortunately her father died of agonizing throat cancer the day after her 19th birthday. Her and her mother remained very close and her mother while in mourning her husband, still found the strength to plan the wedding for her daughter.
The couple were married October 27, 1889 in Athens. There was a public ceremony in the Orthodox faith but a private for the protestant princess. They had two future monarchs among their witnesses: George V and Nicholas II. George V (as well as his elder brother Albert Victor) was one of Sophie's witnesses as well as her brother Henry. Nicholas II (Tsarevich at the time) stood for his cousin as well as Constantine's brothers Nicholas and George. The wedding was celebrated with great pomp and filled with important royals. The groom's grandfather Christian IX, the bride's brother Wilhelm II, and the Prince of Wales were at the top of the list. The Prince of Wales was an Uncle to both, by marriage to Constantine and by blood to Sophia. His wife Alexandra was the older sister of Constantine's father George.
The couple lived in a small villa for the first while until the palace of the Duke of Sparta was built (its now the presidential mansion in Athens). They lived a quiet life removed from the busier courts. Sophia traveled a great deal though and used her travels to decorate their home. She took to learning Greek.
She would convert to Orthodox after the birth of her eldest sons. Unfortunately for her it caused a major rift with her brother. Wilhelm and his wife were very devout lutherans, and her brother was head of the church in Prussia. She announced it to them when she went home to attend her sister's wedding. Her brother forbid her from entering Germany for 3 years after she converted.
She followed in the footsteps of her mother in law and became involved in a lot of social work like soup kitchens. During the 30 days war she actively worked with the Greek Red Cross to help wounded soldiers. She founded field hospitals and would visit wounded soldiers on the front. She helped arrange nurses from England to come and help, and worked training young women to assist.
Her and her mother in law received the Royal red cross from her grandmother in recognition of their work during the war.
Tension arose after the war though. Sophia being German and the German bond with the Ottomans caused tension. Her husband was criticized for having not done more. The couple decided it best to spend time abroad and headed to Germany where she made peace with her brother. They would remain for a year before returning to Greece.
1901 was a rough year for her. She lost two of the most important people in her life, her grandmother and her mother. She would travel to London to attend the funeral of her beloved grandmother. Sadly that summer when she was heavily pregnant she was summoned home to Germany where her mother was dying. She and her sisters were at their mother's side when she died in August.
During the First Balkans war she once again took up the mantle of a nurse. With her mother in law Olga and her sister in laws Elena, Alice and Maria, they actively charge of aiding wounded soldiers. They were all active right in the middle of action, working in field hospitals across Greece during the time. Though a rivalry between her and Alice arose during this time as well.
The marriage with Constantine started to drift apart. Her husband was unfaithful and while at first she ignored it, they did slowly seperate by 1912. Their children though grew up in a loving nurturing home. Like her own childhood, she instilled a love of English culture on her children. Her and her husband spoke English at home with their children.
On March 18, 1913 her father in law was assassinated. It fell to her, as she was in Athens, to inform Olga of her husband's death.
WWI brought a lot of conflict and troubles for them. There were plots to assasinate the couple. Their royal residence suffered a massive fire, in which Sophia had to save her youngest daughter from. In 1917, following the Russian revolution which saw the deposition of her husband's cousin Nicholas, her husband found himself forced to relinquish his throne to his second son Alexander. The couple went into exile in Switzerland (she would never see her son Alexander after that). Her son died in 1920 when he was bit by a monkey, and to Sophia's great pain the government refused to allow her to return to Greece to plan her son's funeral.
They returned to Greece in 1920. Her husband abdicated for the second time in 1922, this time in favor of their eldest son who became George II.
This time they settled in Italy. But her husband's health continued to fail and he was suffering from depression. He died January 11, 1923. The dowager queen settled in Florence where she became more devout in later life. Though she remained Orthodox, she took greater interest in the Anglican faith.
She was ill for years and in 1930 went to Frankfurt for treatment. She would travel after including a visit to England. She returned to Frankfurt in 1931 where she was diagnosed with cancer and the doctors warned she had weeks left. She died surrounded by her family.
She was buried along side her husband and mother in law in the Russian church in Florence. In 1936 her son George saw to the bodies of his parents and grandmother returned to Greece and buried at Tatoi.
Sophia and her husband had six children, all of whom reached adulthood.
-George: succeeded as George II after his father's abdication in 1922. He married Princess Elisabeth of Romania. They had no children and he was succeeded by his brother Paul.
-Alexander: was made Alexander I of Greece when his father was first forced into exile in 1917. He married Aspasia Manos who was four months pregnant when he died in 1920. His daughter Alexandra was born soon after Alexander's parents were allowed to return to Greece. It was Sophie who pressed her husband to give Alexandra the full rights of a Greek Princess. Alexandra would marry Peter II of Yugoslavia making Alexander the grandfather of his name sake, the current CP of Yugoslavia.
Sophia with Alexandra
-Helen: married Carol II of Romania. She was the mother of the late Michael I of Romania.
-Paul: succeeded George as King Paul of Greece in 1947. He married Frederica of Hannover. They were the parents of Constantine II, Queen Sofia of Spain and Princess Irene of Greece.
-Irene: She married Prince Aimone, Duke of Aosta. She was the mother of the current Duke of Aosta, Amedeo.
-Katherine: She married Richard Brandram. The couple had one son Richard.