Princess Sophie of Romania

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Princess Sophie of Romania
Spouse Alain Biarneix
(m. 1998 - 2002 div.)
Issue Elisabeta-Maria de Roumanie Biarneix
House House of Romania
Father Michael I of Romania
Mother Anne of Bourbon-Parma
Born (1957-10-29) 29 October 1957 (age 57)
Tatoi Palace, Athens, Greece
Religion Romanian Orthodox
Romanian Royal Family
Coat of arms of the Kingdom of Romania (1881-1947)

HM The King
HM The Queen

* titled according to private family rules

Princess Sophie of Romania, former Princess of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen,[1] (born 29 October 1957, Tatoi Palace, Athens, Greece) is the fourth daughter of former King Michael I of Romania and his wife Queen Anne. She is currently fifth in line to the headship to the House of Romania, behind her elder sisters and their children.[2] She is a professional award winning artistic photographer specialising in landscape and seascape photography.[3] She is also second cousin to King Felipe VI of Spain, ex-King Simeon II of Bulgaria, Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg, Archduke Karl of Austria, Carlos, Duke of Parma, Crown Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia and Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece.

Early life and education[edit]

Sophie was born in exile on October 29, 1957 in Tatoi Palace, Greece as the youngest of four daughters of King Michael I and Queen Anne at the time. Sophie was baptised in the Orthodox faith; her godmother is her fathers cousin Princess Sophia of Greece (now Queen Mother of Spain)[4] who is also her namesake.

As a young girl, Sophie and her sisters were told "fascinating tales of a homeland they couldn't visit" by their father.[5] Her passion for photography had developed when she was a young girl as she had always seen her father with a camera in his hands and even before the acquisition of the family's first television, the sisters would have slides shown to them during family night; A few years later she started to always carry a camera to take pictures "as beautiful as those of" The King.[6]

Her teenage years were spent in Europe with her family, where she received her primary and secondary education; during weekends she'd write and paint as a hobby. As she got older she'd release her talent of painting onto the canvas even more than she had done as a hobby, many people had suggested that she put up an exhibition, however she timidly showed her works.[7]

In the early 1980s whilst visiting the United States, Sophie managed to get several exhibitions for her paintings at places in the states of Florida and Massachusetts, following these shows she enrolled for college at the School of Visual Arts in New York to pursue a degree in Fine art.[8]

After attaining her college degree, Sophie enrolled at the University of North Carolina at Asheville;[9] studying Maths, Art, History and Photography classes for a year before having to drop out due to the lack of funds.[10] After dropping out from university, Sophie continued her studies of Graphic art at the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington DC aiming for a masters in Photography after three years,[11] however during her third year the Romanian Revolution of 1989 broke out causing Sophie to stop her studies due to the atrocities in her fatherland for which she devoted herself to help raise funds and participate in the reconstruction of Romania.[12]

Return to Romania[edit]

Following the Romanian Revolution and overthrow of the Communist Dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu of December 1989, The Royal Family planned a visit to Romania for Sophie and her oldest sister Crown Princess Margareta to see the state of the citizens of Romania;[13] On the 18th of January 1990 at 3:00pm the plane of Geneva brought Princess Sophie and the Crown Princess to Aurel Vlaicu International Airport in Bucharest.[14][15] During the visit Princess Sophie and the Crown Princess visited many communities and orphanages,[16] Princess Sophie stated about what they saw: "We saw terrible things, physical and psychological suffering unimaginable".[17]

By what they saw instigated Crown Princess Margareta to create the 'Princess Margareta of Romania Foundation - FPMR', which is now a renowned charity to help the country, to heal his wounds, to help the children and the elderly; with the Crown Princess as the President and Princess Sophie as the Vice-President[18][19]

On the 18th of January 2015 Princess Sophie along with the Crown Princess, her brother-in-law Prince Radu, younger sister Princess Maria and nephew Prince Nicholas celebrated 25 years of the 'Princess Margareta of Romania Foundation' at the Romanian Athenaeum,[20] followed by a dinner at the CEC Palace; invitees included: Prince Lorenz of Belgium, Archduke of Austria-Este, Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta, President of the Romanian Senate Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu, former Romanian President Emil Constantinescu, members of the Chamber of Deputies of Romania, Mayor of Chișinău Dorin Chirtoacă, the President of the Romanian Academy and 500 other delegates[21]

Career and works[edit]

From 1990 to 2007 Sophie had been an active working member of the 'Princess Margareta of Romania Foundation', however has reduced her activity after choosing to become a professional photographer;[22] she currently sells her artwork online.[23][24] Sophie lives in Brittany, France at her villa with her daughter, where she also works; her photography is usually exhibited at Chateaux de Tronjoly where during summer nearly 15,000 people come for viewings.[25]

Preoccupied with her photography every day, Sophie hardly visits Romania but only goes back every few years for occasions such as: Queen Anne's 90th birthday,[26] investitures[27] and official engagements.[28]

Marriage, issue and divorce[edit]

In 1998, Princess Sophie married Alain Biarneix who also went under the fake title 'Prince Michael of Laufenburg', however the marriage hadn't been approved by King Michael I as be disapproved of her marrying an imposter, therefore losing the 'of Romania' in her title.[29]

Later on in 1998, Princess Sophie gave birth to her daughter Elisabeta-Maria de Roumanie Biarneix.

In 2002 the marriage with Alain Biarneix had fallen apart and they eventually divorced, she later obtained back the 'of Romania' in her title[30]


  • 'Copilul Soarelui – Editura Dali' (A collection of stories) - A children's collection of stories in Romanian, published in Bucharest in 1995[31][32]
  • 'When Nature Calls' - A collection of her photography of nature, published in 2010[33]
  • 'Au fil des fleurs' - (Along the flowers' way) - A collection of her photography of flowers, published in 2010[34]
  • 'Petit Clin D'oeil Breton' (A Small Wink From Brittany) - A collection of her photography from Brittany in French, published in 2011[35]
  • 'PORTFOLIO' - A collection of her photographs published in 2013[36]
  • 'The Book of Gifts' - published in 2013[37]

Titles, styles, honours and awards[edit]

Styles of
Princess Sophie of Romania
Kingdom of Romania - Big CoA.svg
Reference style Her Royal Highness
Spoken style Your Royal Highness
Alternative style Ma'am
  • 29 October 1957 – 1998: Her Royal Highness Princess Sophie of Romania, Princess of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen[38]
  • 1998 – 2002: Her Royal Highness Princess Sophie, Princess of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen[39]
  • 2002 - 30 December 2007: Her Royal Highness Princess Sophie of Romania, Princess of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen[40]
  • 30 December 2007 – Present: Her Royal Highness Princess Sophie of Romania[41]



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External links[edit]

Princess Sophie of Romania
Born: 29 October 1957
Lines of succession
Preceded by
Elisabeta-Karina de Roumanie Medforth-Mills
Line of succession to the former Romanian throne according to the 2007 Statute
5th position
Succeeded by
Elisabeta-Maria de Roumanie Biarneix
Preceded by
Diana Knight
Line of succession to the British throne
descended from Alfred, son of Victoria