Prince Juan Carlos of Spain & Princess Sofia of Greece 1962

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Royal Highness
Sep 28, 2002
The Wedding of Juan Carlos of Spain
and Sophia of Greece

By Arturo Beéche

The skies over Athens were of a deep oceanic blue on May 14, 1962. Only those who have been lucky enough to visit this wonderful country can recall the beauty of the blue seas surrounding this beautiful country. On this happy date, two descendants of Queen Victoria were joining their lives in matrimony. Such was the commotion created by the impending wedding that many chroniclers of the time called it the most important royal marriage of the century. What is certain is that the two extremes of the Mediterranean Sea were brought closer by the marriage between Prince Juan Carlos of Spain and Princess Sophia of Greece.

Juan Carlos and Sophia are related several times. Juan Carlos is a grandson of Queen Victoria-Eugenia of Spain, born a Princess of Battenberg. Victoria-Eugenia was the only daughter of Prince Henry of Battenberg and Princess Beatrice of Great Britain. Beatrice was Queen Victoria's youngest child. Victoria-Eugenia of Battenberg had the distinct honor of being a favorite of Empress Eugenie of the French, Napoleon III's widow. The closeness between the family of Queen Victoria and her friend Empress Eugenie's led to Beatrice naming her daughter in honor of the two older ladies. Some have also rumored that this friendship between Beatrice and Eugenie was the result of the English princess' love for Eugenie's unfortunate son, the Prince Imperial who died in Africa during the Zulu Wars in 1879.

Sophia is a descendant of Queen Victoria through both her parents. King Paul I of the Hellenes was the youngest son of King Constantine I and Queen Sophie, born a Princess of Prussia. Sophie was the third daughter of Kaiser Friedrich III and Kaiserin Victoria, who was Queen Victoria's eldest child. Sophia's mother, Frederica of Hanover, was the only daughter of Duke Ernst-August of Brunswick and Princess Victoria-Luise of Prussia, Kaiser Wilhelm II's only daughter. Wilhelm II and Queen Sophie of Greece were siblings, both being children of Kaiser Friedrich III and Kaiserin Victoria. Duke Ernst-August was closely related to the English royal family, as the head of the old Hanoverian royal family. Ernst-August was the grandson of King George V of Hanover, only son of King Ernst-August of Hanover and Duke of Cumberland. Ernst-August was the younger brother of Edward, Duke of Kent, Queen Victoria's father.

Many years had passed since Athens witnessed a royal celebration of this magnitude. More than 150 members of Europe's royal families were invited to the wedding of the eldest daughter of the King of Greece and the future King of Spain. Among them were members of the royal houses of Greece, Spain, Great Britain, Bavaria, Parma, Brazil, Denmark, France, Hanover, Baden, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Bulgaria, Bourbon-Two Sicilies, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Sweden, Württemberg and Yugoslavia. Europe had not seen such a large gathering of royalty since the days prior to the great war in 1914.

The city's streets were gaily decorated. The flags of Greece and Spain seemed to be everywhere, hanging from balconies, along the streets, in ever single light post. The route from the royal palace to the church was lined by well-wishers who had stood in place for hours to have a good view of the marvelous royal pageantry. Several Athenians made a handsome profit by renting their balconies to the highest bidder. Not one person in the city seemed willing to avoid being a witness to this most joyous occasion. It had been almost a quarter of a century since a Greek royal had married and Athens, Greece for that matter, made sure Europe witnessed the high regard in which Princess Sophia was held.

Thousands of Spaniards traveled to Athens to participate in this historic event. Juan Carlos and Sophia recognized their efforts by hosting a large garden party at the Hellenic Tennis Club. The contagious enthusiasm demonstrated by Juan Carlos' future subjects was appreciated by both royal families.

At eight in the morning of May 14, five cannon blasts announced the beginning of the day's festivities. Dignitaries were the first to arrive at the Church of Saint Dyonisius, among them Prime Minister Karamanlis and Spain's Ambassador Extraordinary, Minister of the Navy Abárzuza. Following closely were the over 150 royal guests of King Paul and Queen Frederica, amid the most renowned were: King Olav V of Norway, Franz-Josef II of Liechtenstein, King Umberto II of Italy, Queen Juliana of The Netherlands, Queen Ingrid of Denmark, Grand Duke Jean of Luxemburg, Michael I of Romania, Rainier III of Monaco and Queen Victoria-Eugenia of Spain. Other royal guests of note were the Count and Countess of Paris, Henri and Isabelle; Philip I of Württemberg; Tomislav of Yugoslavia; Duarte II of Braganza; Friedrich-Franz V of Mecklenburg-Schwerin; Kraft of Hohenlohe-Langenburg; Amadeo, Duke of Aosta; Philip I, Landgrave of Hesse; Ernst-August V of Hanover; Luis, Prince Imperial of Brazil; Franz of Bavaria; Berthold I, Markgrave of Baden; Marina, Duchess of Kent; Alfonso, Duke of Calabria; Robert, Duke of Parma; Friedrich of Windisch-Graetz; and Lord Louis Mountbatten, Earl Mountbatten of Burma.

The royal cortege left the royal palace at 9:20 am. As the motorcade progressed along the beflagged route Athens went wild with ovations and demonstrations of support for the Greek royal family. Heading the royal cortege was the Athenian Chief of Police, followed closely by a limousine carrying Queen Juliana of The Netherlands and King Olav V of Norway. Juliana astonished the gathering royal mob with a diamond parure said to be worth millions. It was a fitting adornment for the richest woman of the world. Following next were Queen Victoria-Eugenia of Spain with Queen Ingrid of Denmark; Bernhard of The Netherlands with Helen, Queen Mother of Romania; Umberto II and Marie-José of Italy; Michael I and Anne of Romania; Franz-Josef and Gina of Liechtenstein. After a short period of quiet enthusiasm, Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco made a triumphant arrival. She looked fabulous and the crowds loved her wildly. The list of arriving royals was completed by Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Josephine-Charlotte of Luxemburg.

Once the foreign royals were seated inside the church it was the turn for the Spanish and Greek royal families to make their entrance. Four cars transported the maids of honor: Irene of Greece, Irene of The Netherlands, Alexandra of Kent, Benedikte and Anne-Marie of Denmark, Anne of France, Pilar of Spain and Princess Tatiana Radziwill. The best men chosen by the couple were Prince Michael of Greece, the Duke of Aosta, don Alfonso de Bourbon and Infante Alfonso of Orleans.

Preceded by six mounted guards, Queen Frederica and don Juan, Count of Barcelona, arrived at the church. They were followed by Prince Juan Carlos who was accompanied by his mother, the Countess of Barcelona. Escorted by his proud mother, Juan Carlos' entry into the church sent the adoring crowds into boisterous rapture. Once inside the church, the Countess of Barcelona sat next to her husband. Queen Frederica waited patiently for the arrival of her husband, son and daughter. The noisy clamor filling up the church announced the bride's arrival.

Outside, the crowds went simply wild. Seated inside the majestic golden royal coach, Sophia, accompanied by her father and brother Constantine, arrived at Saint Dyonisius. Her bridesmaids waited patiently as the royal bride descended from the carriage. Within minutes they had managed to straighten the bride's long train. Sophia's entrance into the church was tremendously emotional for bride, family, guests and crowd. Greece, royal Europe in fact, had not seen such outpouring of love in many decades. For a moment it seemed as if all worries were thrown to the wind.

Sophia was an enchanting sight. Her coiffured head was topped by a beautiful tiara given to her by Queen Frederica. This fantastic jewel kept the fifteen foot long veil in place. It was the same veil used a quarter of a century before by Frederica of Hanover when she married Prince Paul of Greece. Her wedding dress was designed by Jean Dessés, a beautiful creation in lamé with ancient brocade.

The day's emotions finally got to Sophia by the time she reached the altar. As tears fell down her cheeks, a concerned Juan Carlos gallantly offered her his handkerchief. He held her arm to comfort her and demonstrate his intense care. Everyone present at the church witnessed this demonstrations of love with great satisfaction.

The Catholic ceremony lasted almost an hour. The doubling of bells announced to the entire city that their princess was no longer so. From that moment forward she would be the future Queen of Spain. Once the nuptials were finished, mass was celebrated. The beautiful notes of Mozart's Coronation Mass, along with Perosi's Magnificat, kept the church filled with joyful melodies. As Haendel's Alleluia filled the church, Juan Carlos and Sophia walked out of the church to be greeted by the rapturous crowds.

The magnificent carriage pulled by six horses took them to the royal palace where the couple rested for a short while. After the royal palace in downtown Athens, everyone headed to the Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral of the Virgin Mary. Decorated with 30,000 roses, the Orthodox cathedral was a sight to behold. The crowds were terribly pleased as the entire royal guest list once again made a triumphant entrance.

Once finished with the Orthodox ceremony, the newlyweds returned to the royal palace. After a brief civil ceremony held inside the royal realm, a fantastic banquet was held in honor of Juan Carlos and Sophia. More than one thousand guests attended the celebration. Photos were taken, anecdotes shared of a day that would forever remain the most impressive royal occasion in Greece's history. Once the banquet was concluded, Juan Carlos and Sophia left for the royal retreat in the island of Corfu. From this Ionic paradise they left for a honeymoon that took them around the world.

Thirteen years later, and surrounded by their three young children, Juan Carlos and Sophia ascended to the restored throne of Spain. Juan Carlos and Sophia are the parents of the Infantas Elena and Cristina, and Prince Felipe of the Asturias. Elena and Cristina are married now. And the royal couple await the birth of Elena's first child in August of 1998. Today Juan Carlos and Sophia enjoy the respect and considerable love of their Spanish subjects. They are also held in high regard by politicians and leaders throughout the world. King Juan Carlos' efforts in restoring democracy to his country are not only admired, but also a source of inspiration to many of his exiled Eastern European cousins.

From: European Royal History
pictures from

2. Princess Sophie, of Greece, and her husband, Don Juan Carlos, son of the pretender to the Spanish throne, prepares to board a New York Airways helicopter at the East Side Heliport August 28th, for a visit to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The royal couple is spending part of their honeymoon in New York.


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1. Prince Juan Carlos and Princess Sofia at their Wedding
Original caption: Hand in hand the Royal bridal pair pose for the press after today's wedding ceremonies. The radiant bride is Princess Sophia of Greece and her groom, Don Juan Carlos of Spain.


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few pics...


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and a few more...


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I've also found these photos from their wedding day, in 1962:


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Some more photos, from Cover, SeegerPress and Interfoto:


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An article about the wedding dress of Sofia in spanish.

Un vestido clásico en lamé plateado

Jean Dessés confeccionó el traje de novia de Doña Sofía. Ocho princesas de sangre real acompañaron a la Princesa en su camino hacia el altar (arriba)

V. Z.
Madrid- Las crónicas de sociedad señalaron que la novia vestía un traje de corte clásico, confeccionado en lamé plateado blanco, recubierto de tul y encaje antiguo, adornado con puntillas y bolillos. El diseño nupcial fue creado por el modisto Jean Dessés, de nacionalidad griega pero residente en la capital de las luces. El tejido elegido fue una seda entrevesada, que fue confeccio-nada con escote tipo barco y la cintura marcada. Se trataba de un conjunto de gran elegancia por su sencillez: «La Reina Federica y la Princesa Sofía han tenido el buen gusto de pedir un modelo que no tuviera ninguna extra- vagancia y se ajustara a unas líneas clásicas, que no anulan su trazado moderno», narró el creador a los corresponsales. La novia se tocó con el mismo velo de encaje que lució su madre el día de su boda, «que le caía de la cabeza hasta el suelo» y medía más de cinco metros. Lo sujetó con una diadema también de la Reina Federica: estilo imperio y de brillantes. Esta tiara fue el regalo de boda que le quiso hacer el káiser Guillermo II de Alemania a su única hija, la princesa Victoria de Prusia cuando ésta contrajo matrimonio con el heredero de la Casa de Hannover. También lució una gargantilla, a juego con unos pendientes, un brazalete y un anillo de diamantes.
La Reina Federica consiguió, por otra parte, reunir como damas de honor de su hija a ocho jóvenes de sangre real, que sostuvieron durante la ceremonia la larga cola que lució. Las elegidas fueron Alejandra de Kent, Benedicta y Ana de Francia, María de Dinamarca, Ana de Francia, Irene de Holanda, Tatiana Radziwill, así como las respectivas hermanas de los contrayentes: Pilar de Borbón e Irene de Grecia, que estuvieron pendientes de que no fallara ningún detalle. Las damas ayudaron a vestirse a la novia, «cumpliendo su misión con alegría», a descender de la carroza ¬fabricada en 1875 para la frustrada coronación de Enrique V¬ cuando llegó a la catedral de San Dionisio junto a su padre, así como a subir la escalinata del templo católico. Las ocho vistieron «túnicas de corte clásico: faldas plisadas y anchos cinturones de seda rosa, azul o amarilla», que hacían juego con la trenza de tela que lucían en la cabeza.
Como anécdota, cada una de las princesas, antes de salir con el cortejo, colocaron con toda delicadeza un mechón de sus cabellos en el bajo del vestido de la novia, «con la ilusión juvenil de que pronto sean ellas las protagonistas de una boda», informó un portavoz de Palacio.
Por su parte, el Príncipe vistió de teniente de Infantería y llevó el Toisón de Oro y la Placa de la Gran Cruz Griega del Salvador.

classic dress in lamé silverplated
Jean Dessés made the suit of fiancèe of Doña Sofía. Eight princess of real blood accompanied to the Princess in their way towards the altar (above)
V. Z.
Madrid the society chronicles indicated that the fiancèe dressed a suit classic cut, made in lamé silverplated white, covered of tul and it fits old, adorned with finishing nails and bobbins. The nuptial design was created by modisto Jean Dessés, of Greek but resident nationality in the capital of the lights. The chosen weave was a entrevesada silk, that type boat was made with decollete and the noticeable waist. One was a set of great elegance by its simplicity: "Queen Federica and Princess Sofía have had the good taste to request a model that did not have any extra vagancia and it adjusted to classic lines, that they do not annul its modern layout ", the creator to the correspondents narrated. The fiancèe touched itself with the same veil of embroider that shone its mother the day of its wedding, "that fell to him of the head until the ground" and measured more than five meters. Diadema of Reina Federica also held it with one: style empire and of brilliants. This tiara was the wedding present that it wanted to him to do káiser Guillermo II from Germany to his only daughter, princess Victoria de Prusia when this one contracted marriage with the heir of the House of Hannover. Also gargantilla shone one, to game with slopes, a diamond bracelet and ring.
Reina Federica obtained, on the other hand, to reunite like ladies of honor of its daughter to eight young people of real blood, that they maintained during the ceremony the long tail that shone. The chosen ones were Alejandra de Kent, Benedicta and Ana of France, Maria of Denmark, Ana of France, Irene of Holland, Tatiana Radziwill, as well as the respective sisters of the contrayentes: To pound of Borbón and Irene of Greece, that they were pending of which did not fail any detail. The ladies helped to get dressed to the fiancèe, "fulfilling its mission with joy", to descend from the float ¬fabricada in 1875 for the frustrated coronation of Enrique V¬ when it arrived at the cathedral of San Dionisio next to its father, as well as to raise the perron of the catholic temple. The eight dressed "túnicas classic cut: plisadas skirts and wide belts of pink silk, blue or yellow ", that they matched with the braid of fabric that shone in the head.
Like anecdote, each one of the princess, before leaving with the courtship, they placed with all gentleness a tuft of its hair in the low one of
the dress of the fiancèe, "with the youthful illusion of which soon protagonists of a wedding are they them", a spokesman informed into Palace.
On the other hand, the Prince dressed lieutenant of Infantry and took to the Toisón de Oro and the Plate of the Great Greek Cross of the Salvador.
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I should mention, as an anecdoque of the wedding, that the then princess Sofia forgot to ask the protocolary permission to her father King Paul in order to get married to Prince Juan Carlos, since she was second in line of succession to the greek throne. That's one of the reasons she cries in the wedding, so conscious as she was of her role. The thing is that, after the years, the same thing happened to her daughter Infanta Elena when she married Jaime de Marichalar.
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You knew that before marry Juan Carlos, queen Sofia was to be married to Harald of the Norway by a dowry of 25 million of french? The original dowry to be paid were 50 million of french. When Juan Carlos married with Sofia, her family received from him the amount of 20 million of pesetas.

a beautiful photo from hola.


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:eek: I did not know that Sofia was to marry Harald!!!!!!!!! She and Juan Carlos have made a great couple throughout the years (as have Harald and Sonja, too!) but it's interesting to think how history might have gone another way.
No, I can't see her as Queen of Norway. She seems to me to be the perfect Queen of Spain and they've had a great marriage and quite attractive children.
1. Princess Sofia leaving for the church with her father, King Paul of Greece
2. Arriving at the church
3. Wedding ceremony (King Paul and Crown Prince Constantine are standing behind the couple)
4. Bride's father exchanging the crown three times over the heads of the couple
5. Bride's father and brother holding the crowns over the heads of the couple
6. Leaving the church as a married couple
7. Getting into the coach for the palace
8. Waving from the coach

From British Pathe


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pdas1201 said:
1. Princess Sofia leaving for the church with her father, King Paul of Greece
2. Arriving at the church
3. Wedding ceremony (King Paul and Crown Prince Constantine are standing behind the couple)
4. Bride's father exchanging the crown three times over the heads of the couple
5. Bride's father and brother holding the crowns over the heads of the couple
6. Leaving the church as a married couple
7. Getting into the coach for the palace
8. Waving from the coach

From British Pathe
can you put the rest of the images here, please?
rchainho said:

1. Bride climbing in the carriage
2-3. Bridal Cortege on its way to the church
4. Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco arrive at the church
5. The bridal carriage arrives
6. Bride and Groom
7. The wedding ceremony
8. Leaving as Husband and Wife
9. The couple on their way to the palace for the reception
10. Jubliant Bride waves to the crowd

British Pathe


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Engagement Photos

I just happen to have Queen Sophia and King Juan Carlos's engagement photos on hand :D

1. The Engagement Announcement - (left to right) Princess Irene of Greece, Prince Konstantions II of Greece, Queen Frederika of Greece, Don Juan Bourbon y Battenberg, Princess Sophia, Juan Carlos of Spain, King Paul I of Greece, Dona Maria de las Mercedes de Bourbon y Orleans, Countess of Barcelona.

2. Formal Engagement - Pictured in the front center are King Paul I and Queen Frederika. Princess Sophia and Juan Carlos are in the middle of the photo (they're the ones gazing into each other's eyes:D )


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I hope these have not been posted before..:)


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Thank you for the information, rchainho, I loved her dress and tiara. This was a very glamorous wedding and she looked so regal that day in the pictures.
She was quite a beautiful bride; they a lovely couple.

But wasn't Juan Carlos in love with a Princess Maria-Gabrielle; supposedly a child was born? Why didn't marry?
I was wondering that too, since the Italian royals were Catholic, M-G would've seemed like a better choice than Sofia.
What I read was that General Franco didn't approve of Maria Gabrielle so the General put the kibosh on that romance. I'm not sure about the middle girl. Then Juan Carlos and Sofia got engaged and announced the engagement before the General was informed.

I would have thought that Sofia would have been a risky bride from Franco's point of view. Her parents were both very smart, as is she, and she was a more self-assured person than Juan Carlos was. IMO not a person to be easily molded to your way of thinking (if her thoughts differ from yours). Juan Carlos might have been another one of the royals lucky in his choice of bride.
Queen Frederica of Greece wanted her daughter Sofia to marry Harald and they meet each other through the queen frederica.
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