Sophia of Prussia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Not to be confused with Duchess Sophie of Prussia.
Sophia of Prussia
Sophia of Prussia.jpg
Queen Consorts of the Hellenes
Tenure 18 March 1913 – 11 June 1917
19 December 1920 – 27 September 1922
Born (1870-06-14)14 June 1870
New Palace, Potsdam, Prussia, German Empire
Died 13 January 1932(1932-01-13) (aged 61)
Frankfurt, Weimar Republic
Burial 16 January 1932
Greek Orthodox Church, Florence, Italy, then Royal Cemetery, Tatoi Palace, Greece
Spouse Constantine I of Greece
Issue George II of Greece
Alexander of Greece
Helen, Queen Mother of Romania
Paul of Greece
Irene, Duchess of Aosta
Lady Katherine Brandram
Full name
Sophia Dorothea Ulrike Alice
House Hohenzollern
Father Frederick III, German Emperor
Mother Victoria, Princess Royal
Religion Greek Orthodoxy
prev. Calvinism
Prussian royalty
House of Hohenzollern
Wappen Deutsches Reich - Reichsadler 1889.svg
Frederick III
Wilhelm II
Charlotte, Duchess of Saxe-Meiningen
Prince Henry
Prince Sigismund
Princess Viktoria
Prince Waldemar
Sophia, Queen of the Hellenes
Margaret, Landgravine of Hesse-Kassel
Prince Waldemar
Prince Sigismund
Prince Heinrich
Great Grandchildren
Princess Barbara
Prince Alfred

Princess Sophia of Prussia (Sophia Dorothea Ulrike Alice; 14 June 1870 – 13 January 1932), was Queen Consorts of the Hellenes during 1913–1917 and 1920–1922.

Member of the House of Hohenzollern and daughter of Emperor Frederick III of Germany, Sophia received a liberal and anglophile education, under the supervision of her mother, Victoria, Princess Royal. In 1889, less than a year after the death of her father, she marries the Diadochos Constantine, Duke of Sparta and heir of the Greek throne. After a difficult period of adaptation in her new country, Sophia gave birth to six children and became involved in the assistance to the poor, following the footsteps of her mother-in-law, Queen Olga. However, it was during the wars which Greece faced during the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century that Sophia shows the most social activity: she founded field hospitals, oversees the training of Greek nurses and even she herself heals wounded soldiers.

However, Sophia was hardly rewarded for her actions, even after her grandmother, Queen Victoria, decorated her with the Royal Red Cross after the Thirty Days' War: the Greeks criticized her links with Germany. Her brother, Emperor William II was indeed ally of the Ottoman Empire and openly opposed the construction of the Megali Idea, which could established a Greek state that would encompass all ethnic Greek-inhabited areas. During World War I, the blood ties between Sophia and the German Emperor also cause the suspicion of the Triple Entente, which accuses Constantine I for his neutrality in the conflict.

After imposing a blockade to Greece and supported the rebel government of Eleftherios Venizelos, causing the National Schism, France and its allies deposed Constantine I in June 1917. Sophia and her family then went into exile in Switzerland, while the second son of the royal couple replaces his father in the throne under the name of Alexander I. At the same time, Greece entered the war alongside the Triple Entente, which allows it to grow considerably.

After the outbreak of the Greco-Turkish War in 1919 and the untimely death of Alexander I the following year, the Venizelists abandoned the power, allowing the royal family's return to Athens. The defeat of the Greek army against the Turkish troops of Mustafa Kemal, however, forced Constantine I to abdicate in favor of his eldest son George II in 1922. Sophia and her family then were forced to a new exile, and settled in Italy, where Constantine died one year later (1923). With the proclamation of the Republic in Athens (1924) Sophia spent her last years alongside his family and died of cancer in Germany in 1932.


Princess of Prussia and Germany[edit]

A birth in a difficult context[edit]

Frederick William, Crown Prince of Prussia and Germany. Portrait by Heinrich von Angeli, 1874.

Princess Sophia was born in the Neues Palais in Potsdam, Prussia on 14 June 1870.[1] Her father, Crown Prince Frederick of Prussia, and her mother, Victoria, Princess Royal of the United Kingdom (herself the eldest daughter of Queen Victoria and Albert, Prince Consort) are already the parents of a large family and as the penultimate child, Sophia was eleven years younger than her older brother, the future Emperor William II of Germany. Frederick and Victoria are a close couple, both in a sentimental and political levels. Being staunch liberals, they live away from the Berlin court and suffer the intrigues of very conservative Chancellor Otto von Bismarck and members of the House of Hohenzollern.[2]

A week after the birth of Sophie, a case relating to succession to the throne of Spain[a] damaged the Franco-Prussian relations. The tone between Paris and Berlin worsened even further after Bismarck published the humiliating Ems Telegram on 13 July 1870. Six days later, the government of Napoleon III declares war on Prussia and the states of the German Confederation offer support to Prussia, which then appears as the victim of French imperialism. It's in this difficult context that Sophia was christened the following month, though all the men present were in uniform, as France had declared war on Prussia. Sophie's mother described the event to Queen Victoria: "The Christening went off well, but was sad and serious; anxious faces and tearful eyes, and a gloom and foreshadowing of all the misery in store spread a cloud over the ceremony, which should have been one of gladness and thanksgiving".[3]

However, the conflict lasted only a few months and leads to even a brilliant German victory, leading to the proclamation of Sophia's grandfather King William I of Prussia as the first German Emperor on 18 January 1871.[4]

An Anglophile education[edit]

Victoria, Crown Princess of Prussia and Germany. Portrait by Heinrich von Angeli, 1871.

Sophie was known as "Sossy" during her childhood (the name was thought to have been picked because it rhymed with "Mossy", the nickname of her younger sister Margaret).

The children of the Crown Princely couple became grouped into two by age: William, Charlotte, and Henry who were favoured by their paternal grandparents, while Sophia, Margaret, and Viktoria were largely ignored by them.[5] Sophia's two other brothers, Sigismund and Waldemar, died at a young age (Sigismund died before she was born, and Waldemar when he was 11 and she was 8); this drew the Crown Princess and her three daughters closer together, calling them "my three sweet girls" and "my trio".[6]

The Crown Princess, believing in the superiority of all things English, had her children's nurseries modelled on her childhood. Sophie was raised with a great love for England and all things associated with it as a result, and had frequent trips to visit her grandmother Queen Victoria, whom she loved.[b] Sophie often stayed in England for long periods,especially on the Isle of Wight, where she likes to collect shells with her older siblings.[7]

Because she was generally avoided by her paternal grandparents, Sophia's formative years were mainly shaped by her parents and her grandmother Queen Victoria. As a little girl she was so deeply attached to the old British sovereign that the Crown Princess doesn't hesitate to let her daughter for long periods under the care of her grandmother.[2]

In Germany, Sophia largely stayed with her parents at two main residences: the Kronprinzenpalais in Berlin, and the Neues Palais in Potsdam.[8] Like her sisters Viktoria and Margaret, she was particularly close to her parents and their relationship became even closer after the death, in 1879, of Waldemar, the favorite son of the Crown Princely couple.[6]

Meeting and engagement with Diadochos Constantine[edit]

Sophie as a young girl, c. 1885.

In 1884, Prince Constantine of Greece ("Tino") was sixteen and his majority was declared by the government. He then received the title of Duke of Sparta and Diadochos (διάδοχος / diádokhos, which means, "heir to the throne").[9][10] Soon after, the young man complete his military training in Germany, where he spent two full years in the company of a tutor, the Dr. Lüders. He served in the Prussian Guard, took lessons of riding in Hanover and studied Political science at the Universities of Heidelberg and Leipzig.[11]

After a long stay in England celebrating her grandmother's Golden Jubilee, Sophia became better acquainted with Constantine in the summer of 1887. The Queen watched their growing relationship, writing "Is there a chance of Sophie's marrying Tino? It would be very nice for her, for he is very good".[12]

During his stay at the Hohenzollern court in Berlin representing the Kingdom of Greece at the funerals of Emperor William I in March 1888,[13] Constantine saw Sophia again. Quickly, the two fall in love and get engaged officially on 3 September 1888.[14] However, their relationship was viewed with suspicion by Sophia's older brother, the now Crown Prince William and his wife Augusta Victoria. In the Hellenistic royal family itself, this betrothal wasn't also completely supported: Queen Olga shows some reluctance to the projected union because Sophia was Lutheran and she would have preferred that the heir to the throne could marry with an Orthodox.[15] But despite the difficulties, Tino and Sophia's wedding was scheduled for October 1889, in Athens.[16]

The death of Emperor Frederick III[edit]

This period fell on an unhappy time for Sophia's family however, as her father Emperor Frederick III was dying an agonizing death of throat cancer. His wife and children kept vigil with him at the Neues Palais, even celebrating Sophia's birthday and offering her a bouquet of flowersas a gift. The Emperor died the next day.[17] Sophia's eldest brother William, now German Emperor, quickly ransacked his father's things in the hopes of finding "incriminating evidence" of "liberal plots".[18] Knowing her three youngest daughters were more dependent on her than ever for emotional support, the now Dowager Empress Frederick remained close to them: "I have my three sweet girls - he loved so much - that are my consolation".[17]

Already shocked by the attitude of her eldest son, the Dowager Empress was deeply saddened by the marriage of Sophia and her upcoming move to Athens.[c] Nevertheless, she welcomes the happiness of her daughter and consoled herself in a voluminous correspondence with Sophia. Between 1889 and 1901, the two women exchanged no less than 2,000 letters.[19] They are found also on several occasions in their homes, in Athens and Kronberg. The preparations of Sophia's wedding where "hardly a surprising development considering the funereal atmosphere that prevailed at the home of her widowed mother".[20]

Crown Princess of Greece[edit]

An auspicious marriage to the Greeks[edit]

On 27 October 1889 Sophia married Constantine in Athens, Greece in two religious ceremonies, one public and Orthodox abd other private and Protestant.[d] They were third cousins through descent from Paul I of Russia, and second cousins once removed through Frederick William III of Prussia. Sophia's witnesses are her brother Henry and her cousins Princes Albert Victor and George of Wales; for Constantine's side, the witnesses are his brothers Princes George and Nicholas and his cousin the Tsarevich of Russia.[21]

The marriage (the first major international event held in Athens) was very popular among the Greeks. The names of the couple are reminiscent to the public of an old legend which suggests that when a King Constantine and a Queen Sophia ascended the Greek throne, Constantinople and the Hagia Sophia would fall to Greek hands.[19] Immediately after the marriage of Diadochos, began for the population the hopes of the Megali Idea, i.e. the union of all Greeks in the same state.[19][21] Abroad, the marriage of Constantine and Sophia raises much less enthusiasm. Thus, in France, it's feared that the arrival of a Prussian princess in Athens do change the Kingdom of Greece to the side of the Triple Alliance.[e] In Berlin, the union the union was also unpopular: German interests are indeed important in the Ottoman Empire and the Emperor doesn't intend to help Greece only because the Diadochos was his new brother-in-law.[23]

Nevertheless, in Athens, marriage ceremonies are celebrated with pomp and especially give rise to a significant pyrotechnic spectacle on the Acropolis and the Champ de Mars. Platforms are also built on the Syntagma Square so the public can better admire the procession between the Royal Palace and the Cathedral.[24] The newlyweds are related with most of the European dynasties, so in the festivities where representatives of all the royal houses of the continent: King Christian IX of Denmark (grandfather of the groom), Emperor William II of Germany (brother the bride), the Prince of Wales (uncle of both groom and bride) and the Tsarevich of Russia (groom's cousin) where among the guests of honor.[24] Naturally, Sophia's mother and sisters are also present at the ceremony.[16]

In fact, the hosts and their retinues are so many in the small Hellenic Capital that King George I can't receive all in his palace. He must ask some members of the Greek high society to receive part of the guests in their mansions. Similarly, the sovereign was obliged to borrow the horses and carriages of his subjects in order to transport all visitors during the festivities. In addition, the King was forced to hastily buy tens of additional livery for the lackeys at the service of the guests.[25]

Installation in Athens[edit]

The Diadochos Palace, Athens.

In the Hellenic Capital Constantine and Sophia settled in a small villa of French style located in the Kifisias Avenue, waiting for the Greek state who paid the build of a new home for them, the Diadochos Palace,[f] located near the Royal Palace. The couple also ordened the building of another house on the royal estate of Tatoi because King George I refuses that development work could be undertaken in the main palace.[19][21] In Athens, Constantine and his wife live a relatively simple life[g] and far removed from the protocol of other European courts. But life in Greece is often monotonous and Sophia laments there for any company, she only could count with the wives of the tobacco sellers.[28]

So for the Crown Princess takes a while to get adjusted to her new life. She however launches in learning Modern Greek (who manages to dominate almost perfectly in a few years[29]) and uses her many trips abroad to furnish and decorate her new home.[30] Less than nine months after her marriage, on 19 July 1890, the Crown Princess gives birth to her first child, a slightly premature son who was named George after his paternal grandfather. But the birth goes wrong and the umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby's neck, who almost choke. Fortunately for the mother and child, the German midwife sent by the Dowager Empress Victoria to help her daughter to give birth manage to resolve the situation and no tragic consequences occurs.[31]

Conversion to Orthodoxy[edit]

Germanus II, Metropolitan of Athens.

After the birth of her eldest son, Sophia decides to embrace the faith of her subjects and to convert to the Orthodox faith.[h] Having requested and received the blessing of her mother and grandmother,[32] the Crown Princess informed her in-laws of her project and asked Queen Olga of instruction in orthodoxy. The Greek royal family is delighted by the news, because the announcement of the conversion can only be popular among Greeks. But King George I insists that Germanus II, Metropolitan of Athens and Head of the Autocephalous Greek Church could instruct Sophie in the Orthodoxy, rather than his wife.[33] Of Russian origin, Queen Olga was indeed considered by some Greek nationalists as an "agent of the Pan-Slavism" and King George I therefore preferred that Germanus II will guarantee a task that could create difficulties for the Crown.[33][34]

Emperor William II and Empress Augusta Victoria.

If the news of her conversion was greeted calmly by most members of her family, Sophia feared the reaction of Emperor William II, which takes very seriously his status as Head of the Evangelical State Church of Prussia's older Provinces and hate more than anything the disobedience.[32]

Sophia therefore take the trip by her husband in Germany on the occasion of the wedding of her sister Viktoria with Prince Adolf of Schaumburg-Lippe, in November 1890, to personally announce her brother her intentions to change her religion. As expected, the news strongly displeases the Emperor and his wife, the very pious Empress Augusta Victoria. The latter even tried to dissuade her sister-in-law to convert, triggering a heated argument between the two women. Once made aware, William II was so angry that threatened Sophia to exclude her from the Prussian royal family. Pressed by her mother to appear conciliatory, Sophia ends up writing to her brother a letter explaining the reasons for her conversion. But the Emperor will not listen and he forbade his sister to enter for three years to Germany.[35][36]

Sophia officially converts on 2 May 1891;[37] however, the imperial sentence was ultimately never implemented. Nevertheless, relations between William II and his sister are permanently marked by Sophia's decision.[i] Indeed, the Emperor was a man extremely resentful and he never stopped to make pay her younger sister her disobedience.[35][40]

Social Work[edit]

Throughout her life in Greece, Sophia was actively involved in social work and helping the underprivileged. Following in the footsteps of Queen Olga, she leads various initiatives in the field of education, soup kitchens and development of hospitals and orphanages.[41] In 1896, the Crown Princess also founded the Union of Greek Women, a particularly active organization in the field of assistance to refugees from the Ottoman Empire.[42][j] Fascinated by the arboriculture and concerned by the fires ravaging the country regularly, Sophia was also interested in the reforestation.[43][44] In addition, she was one of the founders of the Greek Animal Protection Society.[45]

Battle of Domokos (1897) in Greco-Turkish War of 1897, by Fausto Zonaro.

However, it is during the wars that Greece suffered during late 19th early 20th century that Sophie shows the most social activity. In 1897 and at the outbreak of the Thirty Days' War against the Ottomans about the possession of Crete who ended with an humiliating Greek defeat, Sophia and other female members of the royal family are actively working with the Greek Red Cross in order to help wounded soldiers. In the thessalian front, the Crown Princess founded field hospitals, visited the wounded and even administered directly care for victims of the fighting. Sophia also facilitates the arrival of English nurses in Greece and also participates in the training of young women volunteers to provide assistance to wounded soldiers.[46]

The involvement of Sophia and her mother-in-law in the aid to the victims of fighting (either of Greek or Turkish origin) was so active that caused admiration in other European courts. As a reward for their work, both women were condecorated with the Royal Red Cross by Queen Victoria, in December 1897. Unfortunately for the Crown Princess, her help to the wounded soldiers was less appreciated in Greece, where the population accuses the royal family, and especially Diadochos Constantine, of the loss against the Ottomans.[46]

The consequences of the War of Thirty Days[edit]

After the Thirty Days' War, a powerful anti-monarchical movement developed in Greece and Sophia herself wasn't immune to criticism. Always eager to punish his sister for her disobedience, Emperor William II of Germany openly supported the Ottoman Empire during the conflict and has agreed to offer his mediation after being begged by his sister, his mother and his grandmother. He also demanded that Greece agrees with humiliating conditions in exchange for his intervention[k] and the population believe that he did so with the consent of his sister.[48][49][50]

King George I of Greece, ca. 1912.

But Sophia wasn't the only victim of popular condemnation. In fact, in Athens, was openly discussed to send the Diadochos before a military court to punish him for the national defeat and depose the King George I as was previously did with his predecessor Otto I.[42][51] Several weeks after the signing of the Peace Treaty between Greece and the Otoman Empire, the situation became so tense that the sovereign was a subject of an assassination attempt when he travel in an open carriage with his daughter, Princess Maria. But George I defended himself so bravely that he recovered at least some estimation from his subjects.[51][52]

In these difficult conditions, Constantine and Sophia choose to live some time abroad. In 1898, they established in Kronberg, and then in Berlin. There the Diadochos resumes his military training with General Colmar von der Goltz and receives for a year the command of a Prussian division. To mark their reconciliation, Emperor William II also appointed Sophia as Honorary Commander of the 3rd regiment of the Imperial Guard.[53]

The couple returned to Greece in 1899 and the government of Georgios Theotokis appointed Constantine as the head of the Hellenic Staff. This promotion, however, cause some controversy among the army, which still considers the Diadochos as the main responsible for the defeat in 1897.[54]

Family deaths[edit]

Sophia, Crown Princess of Greece, ca. 1902.

Back in Greece with her husband, the Crown Princess reasumed her charity work. However, the health of both her mother and English grandmother deeply concerned her. The Empress Dowager of Germany was indeed suffering from breast cancer, which cause her extremely suffering.[55][56] As for the Queen of the United Kingdom, she was approaching to eighty years and her family knows that the end was close. But the last years of Queen Victoria's reign were marked by the Second Boer War, during which the United Kingdom suffered terrible losses facing the Afrikaner resistance. Sophia was also concerned that the difficulties suffered by the British in South Africa will undermine the already fragile health of her grandmother.[57]

Queen Victoria finally died of a cerebral hemorrhage on 22 January 1901 in Osborne House. Very affected by the death of the sovereign, Sophia travel to the United Kingdom for her funeral but she attends a religious ceremony in her honor at Athens with the rest of the Greek royal family.[58]

A few months later, in the summer of 1901, Sophie goes to Friedrichshof to look after her mother, whose health continues to decline. Five months pregnant, the Crown Princess knows that the Dowager Empress was dying and, with her sisters Viktoria and Margaret, she accompanied her until her last breath on 5 August.[55][59] In the space of seven months Sophia loses two of her closest relatives. However, her new maternity allows her not feeling sorry for herself.

The Goudi coup and its consequences[edit]

Map of Megali Hellas (Great Greece) as proposed at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 by Eleftherios Venizelos, the leading major proponent of the Megali Idea at the time.

In Greece, political life remains volatile throughout the first years of the 20th century and the Megali Idea (Greek: Μεγάλη Ιδέα Megáli Idéa, "Great Idea") continues to be a central concern of the population. But in 1908, the Cretan authorities unilaterally proclaim the attachment of their island to the Kingdom of Greece.[60] But for fear of Turkish reprisals, the Greek government refuses to recognize the annexation, although the island is, de facto, detached from the Ottoman Empire. In Athens, the pusillanimity of the King and government shocks, particularly in the militia.[61] On 15 August 1909, A group of officers gathered in the "Military League" (Greek: Στρατιωκικός Σύνδεσμος, Stratioticus Syndesmos) and organized the called Goudi coup. While declaring monarchists, members of the League, led by Nikolaos Zorbas, asking, among others things, to the sovereign to expulsion of his son from the army.[61] Officially, this is to protect the Crown Prince from the jealousies that could raise his friendship with some soldiers. But the reality was quite different: officers continue indeed to judge the responsible Diadochos the 1897 defeat.[61]

Schloss Friedrichshof, former residence of the German Dowager Empress.

The situation became so tense that King George I's sons have to resign from their military posts to save their father the shame of having to expelled them.[62][63] In September, the Diadochos, his wife and their children also choose to leave Greece and seek refuge in Germany at Friedrichshof, now owned by the Princess Margaret of Prussia.[64][65] In the meanwhile, in Athens, began discussions about to dethrone the House of Glücksburg to establish a Republic or to replace the sovereign with either a bastard son of Otto I, a foreign prince or with Prince George, with Sophia as regent.[66]

In December 1909, the Colonel Zorbas, head of the Military League, pressured George I to appointed him Head the government in place of Prime Minister Kyriakoulis Mavromichalis.[67] The sovereign refused but the government must undertake reforms which go in the direction of the military. The staff was reorganized and supporters of the Diadochos, including Ioannis Metaxas, are expelled.[68] At the same time, French soldiers are called to reorganize the Greek army, which threatens both Sophia and her husband that they development republican ideas in the militia.[65]

Eleftherios Venizelos.

Despite these reforms, some members of the Military League continues to oppose the government in order to take power. They then travel to Crete to meet the Head of government of the island, Eleftherios Venizelos, and offer him the post of Prime Minister of Greece.[l] But the Cretan leader doesn't want to appear in Greece supported by the army and convinces them to arrange new elections.[69] In March 1910, the King eventually call elections and Venizelos and his supporters came to power. For the royal family, this was a difficult time.[69]

However, Venizelos didn't want to weakened the Crown. To show that he doesn't obey the army, he restores the members of the royal family in their military duties and the Diadochos thus becomes again Chief of the Staff.[70] Back in Greece on 21 October 1910, after over a year of exile, Sophia nevertheless remains very suspicious with the new government and the militia. She refuses any contact with Venizelos, blaming him as partly responsible for the humiliation suffered by the royal family. The Princess also had problems with her father-in-law, whom she accuses of having been weak during the crisis.[71][72]

Nurse during the First Balkan War[edit]

After the arrival of Venizelos in power and under the supervision of Diadochos Constantine, the Greek army was modernized and equipped with the support of French and British officers. New warships are also controlled by the Navy.[73] The aim of the modernization is to make the country ready for a new war against the Ottoman Empire. But to defeat the enemy and achieve the Megali Idea, Greece needs allies. That is why, under the Prime Minister, Greece sign alliances with its neighbors and participates in the creation of the Balkan League in June 1912.[74] Thus, when Montenegro declared war on the Ottoman Empire on 8 October 1912, was joined less than ten days later by Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece. This is the beginning of the First Balkan War.[75]

Princess Alice of Battenberg, ca. 1906.

While the Diadochos and his brothers take command of Greek troops,[76] Queen Olga, Sophia and her sisters-in-law (Marie Bonaparte, Elena Vladimirovna of Russia and Alice of Battenberg) took in charge the aid to wounded soldiers and refugees. In one month, the princesses are collect 80,000 garments for the military and gathered around them doctors, nurses and medical equipment.[77] The Queen and Crown Princess also open a public subscription in order to create new hospitals in Athens and on the front.[78][79] Very active, the princesses don't just stay in the back but also go to the center of the military operations. Queen Olga and Sophia visited Larissa and Elassona,[79] while Alice makes long stays in Epirus and Macedonia. Elena directs meanwhile an ambulance-train and Marie Bonaparte sets up a hospital ship that connects Thessaloniki to the capital.[78]

But if the war was an opportunity for the princesses to prove themselves useful to their adopted country, it also exacerbates rivalries within the royal family. Conflict began due to Sophia's jealousy of her cousin and sister-in-law Alice. In fact, a heated argument between the two young women erupted after Alice sent without requesting permission to Sophia, nurses dependent on the Crown Princess to Thessaloniki. On seemingly innocuous event provokes a real discomfort within the family and Queen Olga became shocked when Sophia's attitude was supported by her husband.[79][80]

Marital problems and private life[edit]

Countess Paola von Ostheim, mistress of Prince Constantine.
Sophia and her three daughters Helen, Irene and Katherine.

Sophia and Constantine's marriage was harmonious during the first years. However, faithfulness is not the greatest quality of the Diadochos and his wife soon had to deal with his numerous extramarital affairs. Initially shocked by what she sees as a betrayal, Sophia soon followed the example of her mother-in-law and condone the behavior of her husband.[81] From 1912, however, the couple became noticeably separated. At that time, Constantine began an affair with Countess Paola von Ostheim (née Wanda Paola Lottero), an Italian stage actress who recently divorced from Prince Hermann of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach; this relationship lasted until Constantine's death.[82]

When Sophia gave birth to her sixth and last child, a daughter named Katherine on 4 May 1913, a persistent gossip stated that the child was the result of her own affairs. The rumors, false or true, didn't affect Constantine, who easily recognized his paternity.[83]

In privacy, the Crown Princely couple communicate in English and it's mainly in this language that they raise their children, who grow up in a loving and warm atmosphere in the middle of a cohort of tutors and British nannies. Like her mother, Sophia inculcated in her offspring the love for the United Kingdom and the family spent every year several weeks in Great Britain, where she attended the beaches of Seaford and Eastbourne. However, the summer vacations of the family were spend in Friedrichshof with the Empress Dowager, but also in Corfu and Venice, where the Greek royal family went aboard the yacht Amphitrite.[84]

Queen of the Hellenes: 1st tenure[edit]

Assassination of King George I and Second Balkan War[edit]

Assassination of George I by Alexandros Schinas as depicted in a contemporary lithograph.

The First Balkan War ended in 1913 with the defeat of the Ottoman Empire by the Greek, Bulgarian, Serbian and Montenegrin coalition. The Kingdom of Greece fate greatly expanded the conflict but soon disagreements are felt between the Allied powers: Greece and Bulgaria indeed compete about the possession of Thessaloniki and its region.[85]

To affirm the right of the Greeks over the main city of Macedonia, King George I first went into the city soon after its conquest by the Diadochos, on 8 December 1912. During his long stay in the city, the King goes out every day to walk unescorted in the streets, as he has become accustomed to Athens. On 18 March 1913 a Greek anarchist called Alexandros Schinas shot the him in the back from a distance of two paces while he was walking in Thessaloniki near the White Tower.[86]

Sophia as Queen of the Hellenes, 1913.

When she learns the murder of the King, Sophia was in Athens. Now Queen Consorts of the Hellenes, she was the responsible to reveal the news of the murder to her mother-in-law.[m] Together with her eldest daughter, Princess Helen, both comforted the now Dowager Queen, who receives the news stoically. The next day, members of the royal family present in the capital go towards Thessaloniki. Arrived in the Macedonian city, they visit the scene of the murder and collect the remains of the King to escort them back to Athens, where he was buried at Tatoi.[88]

In this difficult context, the death of George I seals the belonging of Thessaloniki to Greece.[89] Still, the Second Balkan War broke out in June 1913 about the division of Macedonia between the former allies of the first conflict.[90] Victorious again, Greece comes out of this war considerably enlarged, with the prestige of King Constantine I and Queen Sophia also increased.[91]

Private life[edit]

After their accession to the throne, Constantine I and Sophia continue to lead the simple lifestyle that they had during their time as heirs. Thus they spend their free time in the botany, which was their passion, and transform the gardens of the New Royal Palace[n] on the English model.[43][44]

The couple was very close to other members of the royal family, especially Prince Nicholas. Every Tuesday, the King and Queen will dined with him and his wife Elena, and on Thursday, they devolved the visit to them to the Royal Palace.[92]

Outbreak of World War I[edit]

King Constantine I and Queen Sophia with their children, ca. 1915.

At the outbreak of World War I on 4 August 1914 Sophia stays at Eastbourne with several of her children while her husband and their daughter Helen are the only representatives of the dynasty still present in Athens. But given the gravity of the events, the Queen quickly returned to Greece, where she was soon joined by the rest of the royal family.[93]

While the greater European states entered one by one in the conflict, Greece officially proclaimed his neutrality.[94] Grandchildren of the called "Father and Grandmother of Europe" (as were known King Christian IX of Denmark and Queen Victoria, respectively), Constantine and Sophia are closely related to the monarchs of the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente.[o] Above all, the King and Queen are aware Greece was already weakened by the Balkan Wars and they aren't ready to participate in a new conflict.[95] However, the population doesn't share the opinion of the sovereigns. Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos hopes that thanks to the start of the war, they would carry the Megali Idea and continue defeating of the Ottoman Empire.[96]

Map of the Dardanelles drawn by G.F. Morrell, 1915. The map shows the Gallipoli peninsula and west coast of Turkey, and the location of front line troops and landings.

Things get complicated when the Triple Entente engage in the Gallipoli Campaign in February 1915. Desiring to release the Greek populations of Asia Minor from Ottoman rule, Constantine I, at first, was ready to offer his support to the Allies and bringing his country into warfare. However, the King faced with the opposition of his Staff and, in particular, Ioannis Metaxas, who threatened to resign if Greece entered the war as because the country doesn't have the means. Constantine I therefore desists, causing the wrath of Venizelos. Convinced that the royal couple was in connivance with the Emperor, the Prime Minister tries to bring his country into war despite the opposition of the Crown. But, facing the united front of the King, the army and the majority of the government, the politician ends up giving his resignation on 6 March.[97][98]

Weakened by all these events, Constantine I became seriously ill after this crisis. Suffering from pleurisy aggravated by a pneumonia, he remained in bed for several weeks and nearly died. In Greece, public opinion was outraged by a rumor, spread by Venizelists, who said that the King wasn't sick but was in fact was wounded with a knife by Sophia during an argument where she wanted to force him to go to war alongside her brother.[99][100] Certainly the Queeen kept a frequent communication with her brother. In the words of G. Leon, "She remained a German, and Germany's interests were placed above those of her adopted country which meant little to her. Actually she never had any sympathy for the Greek people".[101] Other sources point to the opposite, based on her many charitable works and efforts to improve the lives of the Greek people in and around the capital.[100]

The Panaghia of Tinos.

The King's health declines so a ship was sent to the Island of Tinos in order to seek a miraculous icon of The Virgin and Child who supposedly heal the sick. While Constantine I has already received the last sacraments, he partly covers his health after kissing the icon. However, his situation remains worrying and he needs surgery before he can resume his duties. Relieved by the recovery of her husband, Sophia offers then, by way of ex-voto, a sapphire to enrich the icon.[99][102]

During the King's illness period, the Triple Entente continues to put pressure on Greece to go to war with tem. Dimitrios Gounaris, successor of Venizelos as Prime Minister, proposes the intervention of his country in the conflict in exchange for the protection of the Allies against an eventual attack of Bulgaria. However, the Triple Entente, eager to form an alliance with them, refused the agreement.[99]

Rupture with Venizelos[edit]

Military operations during the Serbian Campaign, 1915.

In June 1915, legislative elections gave victory to the Venizelists. A month later, Constantine I, still convalescent, reasumed his official duties and eventually called Venizelos at the head the Cabinet on 16 August. In September, Bulgaria entered the war alongside the Central Powers and attack Serbia, ally of Greece since 1913. Venizelos asks the King to proclaim general mobilization, which he refuses. However, to avoid a new political crisis, Constantine I finally proclaim mobilization while making it clear that this is a purely defensive measure. In order to force the King to react, the Prime Minister calls on 3 October, the Allied Powers to occupy the port of Thessaloniki but Constantine I leaves the city when the French, Italian and British forces landed in the city. Between Venizelos and the royal family, the break was now final.[103][104]

Queen Sophia, by Georgios Jakobides, 1915.

As for the Allied governments, the attitude of Constantine and Sophies appears as a betrayal and they appeared as in the newspapers of the Triple Entente.[p][106] The French press accuses the Queen to visit regularly the beaches of Phalerum in order to supply of German submarines with fuel.[107]

It must be said that by refusing to go to war, Greece prevents the Franco-British troops to help Serbia, whose armies soon find themselves overwhelmed by the Austro-Bulgarian coalition, and makes it even more uncertain the Allied victory in the Dardanelles. In retaliation, the Triple Entente ordered Greece to demobilize his army while martial law was proclaimed in Thessaloniki and a blockade was imposed to the Greeks.

Nevertheless, the King and Queen are far from losing their support in the country. The withdrawal of British troops from the Dardanelles, in December 1915, on the contrary, reinforce the confidence of many Greeks in their sovereign, and this was taken in advantage by Constantine I to call new elections. Aware of the electoral defeat that surely awaits them, Venizelos and his supporters refuse, in turn, participate in the poll and declare that the new elected Greek parliament was illegal.[108]

Assassination attempts[edit]

Therefore, the Greek government has a policy more favorable to the Triple Alliance. The population officially protested against the transfer of the Serbian army in Corfu and then to Thessaloniki. Orders are also given to the officers present at the borders to doesn't oppose a possible Bulgarian advance in the country, which took place on 27 May 1916. Finally, Constantine I proclaimed symbolically, in April 1916, the annexation of Northern Epirus to Greece in response against the Italian intervention in Albania.[108]

Princess Katherine, ca. 1917.

Now considered enemies of the Triple Entente,[q] the royal couple now faced an increasingly violent opposition to them. The French developed various projects of kidnapping or assassination of the sovereigns. On 14 July 1916, a mysterious fire (probably a deliberate act of arson made by agents of Paris) broke out in the forest surrounding Tatoi. In the confusion of the event, Sophia save her youngest daughter, Princess Katherine, and runs over 2 km. into the woods with the child in her arms. Several members of the royal family, including Constantine I himself, were wounded and the residence of the rulers was largely destroyed by the fire, who lasted for forty-eight hours. Above all, sixteen (or eighteen, depending on sources) soldiers and other members of the palace Staff were killed.[110][111]

After these events, the attitude of the royal family to Germany changes considerably. Between December 1916 and February 1917, the Queen, who had long been less germanophile than her husband, sent several telegrams to her brother asking when the troops of the Triple Alliance would be able to intervene in Macedonia. However, Sophia still had some resentment against the Emperor because of his attitude at the time of her marriage and her conversion to Orthodoxy; but the violation of Greece's neutrality by the Triple Entente and the threats against the life of her husband and children gradually changes her views against the Allies.[112][113]

The National Schism and pressures of the Triple Entente[edit]

French vice-admiral Louis Dartige du Fournet, ca. 1915.

In October 1916, Eleftherios Venizelos set up in Thessaloniki, where he organized a provisional government against the one leaded by Spyridon Lambros in Athens: this was the beginning of the called National Schism (Greek: Εθνικός Διχασμός, Ethnikos Dikhasmos).[114] In the meanwhile, a Franco-British fleet commanded by Vice-admiral Louis Dartige du Fournet, occupies the bay of Salamis to put pressure on Athens, while various ultimatums, mainly concerning the disarmament of his army, were sent.[115] With the blockade, the supply of the capital was increasingly difficult and famine began. Sophia therefore redoubling her efforts to help the poor. With the Patriotic League of Greek Women, she managed to distribute 10,000 meals a day, as well as clothing, blankets, medicines and milk for children. Still, the situation becoming even more difficult.[116]

On 1 December 1916 Constantine I finally agrees with the French demands and soldiers of the Triple Entente landed in Athens to seize guns promised by the sovereign two months earlier. But secretly a group of Greek reservists mobilized and fortify Athens.[115][117] The French are met by a heavy fire and were killed; the event was called by the local press of the time as the "Greek Vespers". After this, the King congratulates both the Minister of War and General Dousmanis.[118]

The Triple Entente quickly reacts to this attack. The French fleet bombards the royal palace in Athens, forcing Sophia and her children to take refuge in the castle cellars for several hours.[119] Above all, the government of Aristide Briand offers the Allies to despose Constantine I and replaced him by his younger brother, Prince George.[120]

However, Russia and Italy refuse to intervene because for both the fears off Greek claims on Asia Minor and the blood ties between Constantine I and Tsar Nicholas II.[115]

First Exile[edit]

Dethronement and family separation[edit]

Tsar Nicholas II of Russia

With the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the deposition of Nicholas II, Constantine I and Sophia had lose the last of their supporters in the Triple Entente. Thus, on 10 June 1917 Charles Jonnart, the Allied High Commissioner, asked the Greek Government the abdication of the King and his replacement by another prince because the Diadochos George was considered a pro-German too. Under the threat of an invasion of 10,000 troops in Piraeus, Constantine I thus relinquish the power in favor of his second son, Prince Alexander. Nevertheless, the sovereign refuses to abdicate and he explains his second son that he should not be regarded otherwise than as a kind of regent, in charge of the throne until the return of the legitimate monarch.[121]

On 11 June, the royal family secretly leaves the Royal Palace, surrounded by a group of loyalists and arrived to Tatoi. The next day, Constantine I, Sophia and five of their children leave Greece from the port of Oropos, taking the road to exile.[122] This was the last time that Sophia saw her second son, now proclaimed King as Alexander I. In fact, after their return to power, Venizelists prohibit any contact between the new sovereign and the rest of the royal family.[123]

Life in Switzerland[edit]

After crossing the Ionian Sea and Italy, Sophia and her family settled in Switzerland, mainly between the cities of St. Moritz, Zürich and Lucerne.[124][125] In exile, the rulers are soon followed by almost all the members of the royal family, which left Greece with the return of Venizelos at the head of the government and entered the war at the side of the Triple Entente. In addition, the financial position of the royal family was precarious and Constantine I, haunted by a deep sense of failure, soon to fall ill. In 1918, he contracted Spanish flu and again was close to die.[126]

Aspasia Manos.

Already concerned about the health of her husband,[125] Sophia was devastated by the prohibition to get in touch with her second son. In fact, in Athens, Alexander I was entirely cut off from his family and the government formally prevented him from communicating with his parents. Even during the short stay of the King in Paris in May 1920, guards closely monitored the sovereign. So when Sophia telephone him at his hotel, a man has cut her appeal and coldly replied that "His Majesty is sorry but he cann't answer the phone".[127]

With the end of the World War I and the signing of the Treaties of Neuilly and Sèvres, the Kingdom of Greece achieves significant territorial gains in Thrace and Anatolia.[128] However, this was far from gave the country his lost stability with the departure of the royal couple and tensions between Venizelos and the exiled royals continued. The decision of Alexander I to marry Aspasia Manos, a young aristocrat[r] from Phanariot ascendance, rather than a European princess, displeases both the Head of the government and the King's parents. Very attached to social conventions, Sophia condemns what she sees as a mésalliance while the Prime Minister sees in this marriage a lost opportunity to get closer to Great Britain.[130]

Death of Alexander I[edit]

King Alexander I of Greece.

On 2 October 1920, King Alexander I was bitten by a pet monkey as he walks on the royal estate of Tatoi. Quickly, his wounds became infected and he's suffering from a strong fever and sepsis. On 19 October, he became delirious and called out for his mother at his bedside. However, the Greek government refuses to allow Sophia to return to Greece: they feared that the loyalists benefit from the presence of the Queen in Athens to organize action against the them.[131][132]

Very worried about her son, Sophia beg the government to change their mind but, aware that only her mother-in-law still finds favor with Venizelists, she eventually asked Olga to go to Athens to take care of Alexander I. After several days of negotiations, the Dowager Queen obtained permission to return to Greece, but delayed by rough seas, she arrived already twelve hours after the death of her grandson, on 25 October.[132][133]

Two days later, the remains of the young King were buried in the royal crypt of Tatoi. Again, the government banned the exiled royals to enter the country and the Dowager Queen was the only member of the family to attend the funeral.[134] The loss of her son and the impossibility to go to his funeral deeply marked Sophia; many observers now emphasize the sadness that shows the Queen's face.[135]

The fall of Venizelos and Olga's regency[edit]

Dowager Queen Olga, by Philip de László, 1914.

In Athens, the death of Alexander I originated to a serious institutional crisis. Always opposed the return of Constantine I and Diadochos George to Greece, the government of Eleftherios Venizelos offers the throne to Prince Paul, the third son of the deposed sovereign. However, he refuses to ascend the throne before his father and his elder brother unless a referendum appointed him as the new Head of State.[136][137]

However, the situation of the Venizelists was already precarious after the difficulties faced by the country during the Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922. Supporters of King Constantine I therefore experiencing a resurgence of popularity and Venizelos was defeated in the parliamentary elections of November 1920. The return of monarchists in power led to the resignation of Venizelist administrative staff and on 17 November Admiral Pavlos Kountouriotis, who was appointed regent after the death of Alexander I, chooses to resign. The new Prime Minister Dimitrios Rallis, therefore asks Dowager Queen Olga to assume the regency until the return of her son, on 19 December 1920. For about a month, she was the head of the Greek kingdom but her role was roughly limited to prepare the restoration of Constantine I.[138][139]

In the meanwhile, in Switzerland, the royal family was preparing the wedding of two of their princes with children of King Ferdinand I of Romania. A few weeks before the death of Alexander I, the Diadochos George was engaged to Princess Elisabeth of Romania,[s] which gave the opportunity to Princess Helen of Greece to meet Crown Prince Carol of Romania and get engaged with him in turn. But if Sophia was satisfied with her son's upcoming wedding, she disapproves the romance of her daughter. Still saddened by the disappearance of Alexander I, the Queen didn't want to lose another of her children. Above all, Sophia has no confidence in the future Carol II, whose marriage and divorce with Zizi Lambrino have shocked her.[141]

Queen of the Hellenes: 2nd tenure[edit]

Return to Greece[edit]

The return of Constantine I and Sophia to Athens on 19 December 1920, was accompanied by large demonstrations of joy. Everywhere in the streets, portraits of Venizelos are pulled and replaced by those of the royal family. Above all, a huge crowd surrounded the royal couple in the streets of the capital and, after returning to the Royal Palace, they must appear repeatedly on the balcony to greet the people who cheered them.[142][143]

Princess Alexandra in the arms of her grandmother Queen Sophia, April 1921

However, the presence of the sovereigns in Greece doesn't bring the expected peace by the people. Even more, it prevents the country to receive the support of the major powers in the war that Greece faced against the Turkey of Mustafa Kemal since 1919. In fact, the former allies didn't forgiven the King and Queen's attitude during World War I and they aren't ready to provide their support.[144] The hatred of the great powers to Constantine I and Sophia appears also clearly on the occasion of the marriage, in Athens, of Princess Helen and Crown Prince Carol of Romania. Present at the wedding, the ambassador of Great Britain and his wife then pointedly refused to salute the Greek King and Queen when they publicly show their respects to Queen Marie of Romania. For Sophia, the snub was more difficult to bear because she has always been on good terms with the United Kingdom representatives before the deposition of Constantine I and continues to nurture loving feelings for the country of her mother.[145]

In fact, the main source of joy for Sophia after her return to Greece was the birth of her granddaughter Alexandra, on 25 March 1921. Although initially opposed to the marriage of Alexander I with Aspasia Manos, the Queen welcomes their daughter with delight and pressed both her husband and eldest son to gave her granddaughter the status and titles reserved to members of the royal family.[146][147]

The Great Disaster[edit]

Mustafa Kemal, 1921.

After initial success, the situation of the Greek army was increasingly precarious in Anatolia. Constantine I decided to travel there in May 1921 to support the morale; however he wasn't the dynamic Commander-in-chief that led his country to victory in the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913. Seriously diminished by illness, he must return to Greece in September, which was perceived as a real military desertion by some.[148] As for Sophia, she can't do more than support her husband and reasume her nursing work with wounded soldiers.[149]

The Greco-Turkish War continues until the Greek defeat of Sakarya in August–September 1921, and the siege and burning of Smyrna (now İzmir) by the Turks in September 1922. After these events, the country plunged into a deep political and moral crisis.[150] While Mustafa Kemal and his armies gradually reconquered Anatolia and east Thrace, thousands of Greeks were murdered and others fled from Asia Minor to find refuge in Greece.[151][152] This was called the "Great Disaster", who was definitive a few months with signing of the Treaty of Lausanne (24 July 1923).

Abdication of Constantine I[edit]

In response to the military defeat by the Turks, a part of the Greek army, commanded by General Nikolaos Plastiras, revolted on 11 September 1922. They demanded the abdication of Constantine I and the dissolution of the Hellenic Parliament. Having consulted his friend, General Ioannis Metaxas, the King abdicated on 27 September on his eldest son, who succeeded him on the throne under the name of George II.[153][154]

Dowager Queen[edit]

Second Exile and concerns for Greece[edit]

To ensure their security and stabilize the throne of their son, Constantine I and Sophia choose to take again the path of exile. On 30 October 1922 the deposed royal couple, Princesses Irene and Katherine and Prince Nicholas with his family, go again to the port of Oropos to leave their country. But, contrary to what happened in 1917, few followers awaited them this time before their departure into exile.[155][156]

On board the Greek steamboat SS Patris, the royal family arrives to Sicily and moved to the Villa Hygeia in Palermo.[157] The Greek political situation remains a source of concern for the exiles. In fact, in Athens, the called Trial of the Six leads to the execution for high treason of former Prime Ministers Petros Protopapadakis, Nikolaos Stratos and Dimitrios Gounaris and Generals Georgios Baltatzis, Nikolaos Theotokis and Georgios Hatzianestis, all accused of responsibility for the defeat against Turkey. Above all, the life of Prince Andrew, brother of Constantine I, was also threatened in November–December 1922 and requires the intervention of foreign governments that his sentence be commuted from death to exile.[158]

Death of Constantine I and deposition of George II[edit]

King George II of Greece.

Increasingly depressed by the events that have shaken Greece and sick with arteriosclerosis, Constantine I develops a deep depression. It then remains sometimes hours without speaking, staring into space.[159] Faced with this situation, the anxiety of Sophia (already bigger by the fate of George II and other members of the royal family who remained in Greece), only increasing. The Queen and her husband therefore take the decision to leave Sicily and settled in Florence. However, Constantine I died of a brain hemorrhage shortly before their departure, on 11 January 1923, and Sophia finds herself even more isolated than she was previously.[160]

After the death of her husband, Sophia wanted to repatriate his remains to be buried in Tatoi but the Greek government refused, with George II without being able to do something.[t] In fact, the situation of the new King was increasingly precarious and at the end, he must himself go into exile in Romania a few months after the death of his father, on 19 December 1923. The republic was then proclaimed in Greece on 25 March 1924 and Sophia and the other members of the royal family are then stripped of their Hellenic nationality. However, the Greek royals maintained their Danish titles since George I ascended to the Greek throne in 1863 and King Christian X of Denmark almost immediately give to them passports of his country.[162][163]

Last years[edit]

Prince (later King) Michael of Romania, 1927.

Sophia, now Dowager Queen, leaves Southern Italy with her daughters Irene and Katherine and moved to Tuscany, in the Villa Bobolina[u] of Fiesole.[165][166] From 1924 to 1927, the three women are joined by Princesses Aspasia and Alexandra, much to Sophia's delight, because she was very attached to her granddaughter.[167][168] Finally, in 1930, was Princess Helen who come live with her mother, after her disastrous marriage with King Carol II of Romania ended in divorce. During summer vacations, the Dowager Queen had the opportunity to see her grandson Prince Michael of Romania, when he came to visit his mother.[169]

Surrounded by her family, Sophia finds some stability but, convinced that Greece wouldn't remain as a Republic forever, she refuses to acquire the Villa where she settled.[170] Released from any official position, she had now more freedom to travel. She made frequent trips to Germany, where she reunited with her sister Margaret, but also to Great Britain, after having obtained the permission of King George V.[171] The Dowager Queen also witnessing several strong moments in the life of the European elite. In 1929, she went and to Doorn in the Netherlands, for 70th birthday of her brother, the former Emperor William II, whom she hasn't seen since 1914.[172]

In her older years, Sophie becomes increasingly religious. She remained orthodox, but also attended anglican offices when she gets the chance. The Queen Dowager was also interested in the Protestant literature, especially in the works of the Episcopalian pastor Samuel Shoemaker (particularly Religion That Works and Twice Born Ministers) and the Episcopalian Rev. James Reid (In Touch With Christ). Finally, she has a close correspondence with the Anglican pastor R. W. Cole, whom she met in Birchington, and spent long hours praying.[173]

Illness, death and burial[edit]

Tomb of Queen Sophia at Tatoi.

Sick for many years, Sophia sees her condition worsen from 1930, which forced him to go to a hospital in Frankfurt to follow a treatment. Apparently recovered by December, she takes full advantage of her strength and during 1931 she travel to Great Britain, Bavaria and Venice. But in September, her condition deteriorated again and must return to Frankfurt, where she underwent surgery. The doctors diagnosed an advanced cancer and they give the Dowager Queen a few weeks of life. After the New Year celebrations of 1931, Sophia gradually stop feeding and her health declined rapidly. She finally died surrounded by her children in the hospital, on 13 January 1932.[174][175]

Sophia's body was transferred to the castle of Friedrichshof, where she rests a few days before being sent to the Russian church of Florence, where she was buried alongside her husband and mother-in-law. They stayed there for four years until the restoration of George II on the Greek throne in 1935.[174][175]

After his restoration on the Greek throne, George II organized the repatriation of the remains of members of his family who died in exile. An important religious ceremony that brings together, for six days, all members of the royal family still alive in November 1936. Sophia's body was buried at the royal burial ground at Tatoi Palace, where she still rests today.[174][176]

In Popular Culture[edit]


  • In The Athenians, the British journalist and writer Beverley Nichols tells the story of a young Englishwoman charged by the Secret Intelligence Service to assassinate King Constantine I during World War I. However, this spy novel, inspired by the survey conducted by the author in Greece after the restoration of the sovereign, was never released because Nichols publishing house deemed too compromising. The work, in which appears Queen Sophia and was also dedicated to her, only exists today in the form of manuscript.[177]

Film and Television[edit]


  • In 1936, the Order of Saints Olga and Sophia (Greek: Βασιλικό Οικογενειακό Τάγμα των Αγίων Όλγας και Σοφίας / Basilikon oikogeneiakon tagma ton agion Olgas kai Sophias) was established by King George II of Greece in the memory of his grandmother and mother.[180][181]

Name of Avenue[edit]


Image Name Birth Death Notes
Georgeiiofgreece.jpg George II of Greece 20 July 1890 1 April 1947 married Princess Elisabeth of Romania, no issue.
Alexander I of Greece.jpg Alexander I of Greece 1 August 1893 25 October 1920 married Aspasia Manos, had issue, Queen Alexandra of Yugoslavia.
HelenGreeceDenmark.jpg Princess Helen of Greece and Denmark 2 May 1896 28 November 1982 married the future Carol II of Romania, had issue, Michael I of Romania.
Paul I of Greece.jpg Paul I of Greece 14 December 1901 6 March 1964 married Princess Frederika of Hanover, had issue, include Constantine II of Greece and Queen Sofía of Spain.
Irene of Greece, duchess of Aosta.jpg Princess Irene of Greece and Denmark 13 February 1904 15 April 1974 married Prince Aimone, Duke of Aosta, nominally King Tomislav II of Croatia from 1941 to 1943; had issue.
Princess Katherine of Greece.jpg Princess Katherine of Greece and Denmark 4 May 1913 2 October 2007 married Major Sir Richard Brandram MC; had issue.


Titles, styles, honours and arms[edit]

Coat of Arms of Sophia of Prussia.

Titles and styles[edit]

  • 14 June 1870 – 27 October 1889: Her Royal Highness Princess Sophia of Prussia
  • 27 October 1889 – 18 March 1913: Her Royal Highness The Crown Princess of the Hellenes, Duchess of Sparta
  • 18 March 1913 – 11 January 1923: Her Majesty The Queen of the Hellenes
  • 11 January 1923 – 13 January 1932: Her Majesty The Dowager Queen of the Hellenes



  1. ^ On 21 June 1870 Madrid offers the Spanish throne to Leopold, Prince of Hohenzollern, a distant cousin of King William I of Prussia. Immediately, the Second French Empire declares its opposition to the project and Prince Leopold eventually decline the offer. Bismarck, however, took this opportunity to force France to declare war on Prussia. Aware of the Prussian military superiority, the Chancellor was indeed convinced that they could defeat the French and in this way finished the Unification of Germany.
  2. ^ "She [the Queen] is so nice to kiss you cannot think," Sophia said at age 11.[7]
  3. ^ In a letter to her mother Queen Victoria, the Dowager Empress wrote: "... my trio is now broken and I feel embittered." Empress Frederick and Frederick Ponsonby, Letters of the Empress Frederick, Kessinger ed, 2007, pp. 393-394.
  4. ^ The Lutheran service took place in the private Chapel of King George I while the Orthodox ceremony was celebrated in the new Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens.
  5. ^ This was also the assertion at the time of the French, Italian and Austrian newspapers.[22]
  6. ^ The construction of the palace, led by architect Ernst Ziller, ended around 1900. For more details, see:[26]
  7. ^ The couple's income was fairly modest but Sophia's marriage contract, however, guarantees a comfortable existence. The princess did receive from the Kingdom of Prussia a dowry of 50,000 marks and 150,000 marks of paraphernalia. Sophia has also inherited two million marks from her father Emperor Frederick III in 1888. Finally, Constantine received an annual income and King George I guarantees a comfortable dower.[27]
  8. ^ Sophia's conversion was probably motivated because she was obliged to do under her new family's House law
  9. ^ The Emperor and his wife considered that Sophia's conversion was responsible for the premature birth of their son Joachim;[38] shortly after William II wrote to his mother that if the baby died, Sophia would have "murdered it."[39]
  10. ^ At that time, the Cretans suffered a violent repression by the Ottoman power, prompting thousands of Greeks to leave their island to seek shelter in Athens. For details, see: History of Crete.
  11. ^ In addition to withdraw their troops from Crete, Greece must thus officially recognize the independence of the island, a condition that any other of the Great Powers suggested.[47]
  12. ^ When Prince George of Greece, Sophia's brother-in-law, was High Commissioner of the Cretan State, between 1905 and 1909, Venizelos fiercely opposed to his policy and the Cretan leader has acquired a strong anti-monarchical will. The officers of the League thus see him as a natural and effective partner against King George I.[69]
  13. ^ Hugo Vickers, in his biography of Princess Alice of Battenberg, however, says that it was Princess Alice and Princes Andrew and George of Greece who gave Queen Olga the news of her husband's murder.[87]
  14. ^ In 1909, a fire destroyed a large part of the Royal Palace (now used by Parliament), with the result that the Crown Prince's Palace was used temporarily as the residence of the royal family. However, it wasn't until the ascension of Constantine I to the throne that the Palace became the main royal residence.
  15. ^ King Constantine I was the first-cousin of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and King George V of the United Kingdom. As for Sophia, she was the sister of Emperor William II of Germany and cousin of the Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna (Alix of Hesse) and King George V.
  16. ^ It's said that since their marriage, Constantine and Sophia are regarded as toys of German politics by the French government.[105]
  17. ^ During a visit of Prince Andrew of Greece to the Permanent Sub-Secretary at the Foreign Office, the latter said coldly: "What can we expect [from Greece] as your Queen is the sister of the Emperor?".[109]
  18. ^ In addition to the royal family and nobility of Venetian origin from the Ionian Islands, there is not, strictly speaking, nobility in Greece. Nevertheless, the Phanariot families (like Manos) are often considered as aristocracy. Aspasia has also among her ancestors, many Romanian Voivodes like Nicolae Caradja (1737–1784) or Michael Soutzos (1784–1864). That's why she is often described as "aristocratic" by historians. For details on Aspasia's ascendance see:[129]
  19. ^ However, it seems that the matrimonial project was already decided since 1913, during the Second Balkan War.[140]
  20. ^ The King's remains were buried in the crypt of the Russian Church of Naples, before being transferred to the Russian Church in Florence until he was finally buried at Tatoi in 1936.[161]
  21. ^ When Sophia died, this villa of the 15th century was bought by her eldest daughter Helen, Queen Mother of Romania, who renamed it Villa Sparta. That is why several sources give that name to the residence.[164]


  1. ^ Gelardi 2005, p. 3.
  2. ^ a b Gelardi 2005, pp. 9–10.
  3. ^ Gelardi 2005, p. 4.
  4. ^ Gelardi 2005, pp. 3–4.
  5. ^ Gelardi 2005, p. 9.
  6. ^ a b Gelardi 2005, p. 11.
  7. ^ a b Gelardi 2005, p. 10.
  8. ^ Gelardi 2005, p. 3 and 10.
  9. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, p. 43.
  10. ^ Mateos Sainz de Medrano 2004, pp. 77–78.
  11. ^ Mateos Sainz de Medrano 2004, p. 78.
  12. ^ Gelardi 2005, p. 18.
  13. ^ Driault & Lhéritier 1926, p. 260.
  14. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, p. 47.
  15. ^ Mateos Sainz de Medrano 2004, p. 79.
  16. ^ a b Van der Kiste 1994, p. 48.
  17. ^ a b Gelardi 2005, pp. 19-20.
  18. ^ Gelardi 2005, p. 20.
  19. ^ a b c d Gelardi 2005, p. 22.
  20. ^ Gelardi 2005, p. 21.
  21. ^ a b c Van der Kiste 1994, p. 50.
  22. ^ Driault & Lhéritier 1926, pp. 262–263.
  23. ^ Driault & Lhéritier 1926, p. 267.
  24. ^ a b Mateos Sainz de Medrano 2004, p. 80.
  25. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, p. 49.
  26. ^ Site of the current presidential palace in Athens (archive)
  27. ^ Driault & Lhéritier 1926, p. 264.
  28. ^ Bertin 1982, p. 150.
  29. ^ Gelardi 2005, p. 27 and 193.
  30. ^ Gelardi 2005, p. 72.
  31. ^ Gelardi 2005, pp. 24–25.
  32. ^ a b Gelardi 2005, p. 25.
  33. ^ a b Driault & Lhéritier 1926, pp. 269–270.
  34. ^ Philip Carabott: Politics, Orthodoxy and the Language Question in Greece: The Gospel Riots of November 1901, Journal of Mediterranean Studies, nª 3, 1993, p. 125.
  35. ^ a b Van der Kiste 1994, pp. 51–52.
  36. ^ Gelardi 2005, pp. 25–27.
  37. ^ Driault & Lhéritier 1926, p. 270.
  38. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, p. 51.
  39. ^ Bennett 1971, p. 301.
  40. ^ Gelardi 2005, p. 27.
  41. ^ Gelardi 2005, p. 82, 159 and 193.
  42. ^ a b Gelardi 2005, p. 82.
  43. ^ a b Van der Kiste 1994, pp. 81–82.
  44. ^ a b Mateos Sainz de Medrano 2004, p. 87.
  45. ^ Gelardi 2005, p. 193.
  46. ^ a b Gelardi 2005, pp. 82–83.
  47. ^ Driault & Lhéritier 1926, p. 403.
  48. ^ Gelardi 2005, pp. 80–82.
  49. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, p. 57.
  50. ^ Driault & Lhéritier 1926, pp. 403–410.
  51. ^ a b Van der Kiste 1994, p. 59.
  52. ^ Gelardi 2005, p. 84.
  53. ^ Driault & Lhéritier 1926, pp. 475–476.
  54. ^ Terrades 2005, pp. 235–236.
  55. ^ a b Gelardi 2005, pp. 95–96.
  56. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, p. 165 and 173.
  57. ^ Gelardi 2005, p. 86.
  58. ^ Gelardi 2005, p. 90.
  59. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, p. 175.
  60. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, p. 68.
  61. ^ a b c Van der Kiste 1994, pp. 68–69.
  62. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, p. 69.
  63. ^ Gelardi 2005, pp. 157–158.
  64. ^ Bertin 1982, p. 178.
  65. ^ a b Gelardi 2005, p. 158.
  66. ^ Driault & Lhéritier 1926, p. 33.
  67. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, pp. 69–70.
  68. ^ Terrades 2005, p. 237.
  69. ^ a b c Vacalopoulos 1975, p. 206.
  70. ^ Clogg 1979, p. 100.
  71. ^ Gelardi 2005, pp. 158–159.
  72. ^ Driault & Lhéritier 1926, p. 49.
  73. ^ Clogg 1979, pp. 101–102.
  74. ^ Vacalopoulos 1975, pp. 215–216.
  75. ^ Vacalopoulos 1975, p. 216.
  76. ^ Vickers 2000, p. 93.
  77. ^ Vickers 2000, pp. 93–94.
  78. ^ a b Captain Walter Christmas: King George of Greece, New York, New York, MacBride, Naste & Company, 1914, p. 368.
  79. ^ a b c Gelardi 2005, p. 180.
  80. ^ Vickers 2000, pp. 102–103 and 108.
  81. ^ Vickers 2000, p. 68.
  82. ^ Gelardi 2005, p. 181.
  83. ^ Mateos Sainz de Medrano 2004, p. 82 and 212–214.
  84. ^ Mateos Sainz de Medrano 2004, p. 83.
  85. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, p. 72.
  86. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, pp. 72–75.
  87. ^ Vickers 2000, p. 105.
  88. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, pp. 76–77.
  89. ^ Driault & Lhéritier 1926, pp. 95–99.
  90. ^ Vacalopoulos 1975, p. 217.
  91. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, pp. 79–80.
  92. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, p. 81.
  93. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, pp. 87–88.
  94. ^ Gelardi 2005, pp. 201–202.
  95. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, pp. 89–91.
  96. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, p. 90.
  97. ^ Gelardi 2005, p. 208.
  98. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, pp. 92–93.
  99. ^ a b c Van der Kiste 1994, p. 93.
  100. ^ a b Gelardi 2005, p. 210.
  101. ^ Leon 1974, p. 77.
  102. ^ Mateos Sainz de Medrano 2004, pp. 87–88.
  103. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, p. 94.
  104. ^ Collectif 1919, pp. 253–254.
  105. ^ Driault & Lhéritier 1926, pp. 260–266.
  106. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, pp. 94–95.
  107. ^ Gelardi 2005, p. 211.
  108. ^ a b Van der Kiste 1994, p. 95.
  109. ^ Gelardi 2005, p. 236.
  110. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, pp. 96–98.
  111. ^ Mateos Sainz de Medrano 2004, p. 88.
  112. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, pp. 105–106.
  113. ^ Gelardi 2005, p. 247.
  114. ^ Driault & Lhéritier 1926, pp. 261–262 and 267.
  115. ^ a b c Van der Kiste 1994, pp. 99–104.
  116. ^ Gelardi 2005, p. 248.
  117. ^ Bertin 1982, p. 214.
  118. ^ Collectif 1919, p. 258.
  119. ^ Gelardi 2005, pp. 246–247.
  120. ^ Bertin 1982, p. 215 and 220.
  121. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, pp. 106–107.
  122. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, pp. 108–110.
  123. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, p. 113 and 117.
  124. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, p. 115.
  125. ^ a b Mateos Sainz de Medrano 2004, p. 90.
  126. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, pp. 115–116.
  127. ^ Gelardi 2005, pp. 292–293.
  128. ^ Driault & Lhéritier 1926, pp. 382–384.
  129. ^ Pedigree Chart of Aspasia Manos in: Genealogics - Leo van de Pas [retrieved 6 July 2016].
  130. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, p. 118.
  131. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, pp. 122–123.
  132. ^ a b Gelardi 2005, p. 293.
  133. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, pp. 123–124.
  134. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, p. 125.
  135. ^ Gelardi 2005, pp. 293–295.
  136. ^ Vickers 2000, p. 148.
  137. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, pp. 125–126.
  138. ^ Gelardi 2005, p. 295.
  139. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, p. 126.
  140. ^ Driault & Lhéritier 1926, p. 152.
  141. ^ Gelardi 2005, pp. 296–298.
  142. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, pp. 128–129.
  143. ^ Gelardi 2005, pp. 295–296.
  144. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, pp. 129–130.
  145. ^ Gelardi 2005, p. 298.
  146. ^ Mateos Sainz de Medrano 2004, p. 402.
  147. ^ Gelardi 2005, pp. 309–310.
  148. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, pp. 132–135.
  149. ^ Gelardi 2005, p. 300.
  150. ^ Bertin 1982, p. 230.
  151. ^ Gelardi 2005, pp. 299–303.
  152. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, pp. 134–137.
  153. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, p. 137.
  154. ^ Gelardi 2005, p. 303.
  155. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, p. 139.
  156. ^ Gelardi 2005, pp. 303–304.
  157. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, pp. 139–140.
  158. ^ Gelardi 2005, pp. 305–306.
  159. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, pp. 141–142.
  160. ^ Gelardi 2005, pp. 305–307.
  161. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, p. 143 and 156.
  162. ^ Gelardi 2005, p. 310.
  163. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, pp. 143–144.
  164. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, p. 149 and 151.
  165. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, p. 148.
  166. ^ Mateos Sainz de Medrano 2004, p. 92 and 214.
  167. ^ Mateos Sainz de Medrano 2004, p. 180 and 402.
  168. ^ Gelardi 2005, p. 357.
  169. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, pp. 149–150.
  170. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, p. 14.
  171. ^ Gelardi 2005, pp. 318–319 and 348–349.
  172. ^ Gelardi 2005, p. 356.
  173. ^ Gelardi 2005, pp. 347–349.
  174. ^ a b c Gelardi 2005, pp. 357–358.
  175. ^ a b Van der Kiste 1994, p. 151.
  176. ^ Van der Kiste 1994, pp. 156–157.
  177. ^ Bryan Connon, Beverley Nichols : A Life, Timber Press, 2001, pp. 108-109.
  178. ^ Eleftherios Venizelos 1910-1927 in:[retrieved 6 July 2016].
  179. ^ 'The First Olympics - Athens 1896 in:[retrieved 6 July 2016].
  180. ^ GREECE ORDERS - DECORATIONS - MEDALS in: Antiques Atoz [retrieved 6 July 2016].
  181. ^ GREECE House of Oldenburg (Greek Orthodox) in: [retrieved 6 July 2016]


External links[edit]

Media related to Queen Sophia of Greece at Wikimedia Commons

Sophia of Prussia
Born: 14 June 1870 Died: 13 January 1932
Greek royalty
Preceded by
Olga Konstantinovna of Russia
Queen consort of the Hellenes
18 March 1913 – 11 June 1917
Succeeded by
Aspasia Manos (untitled)
Preceded by
Aspasia Manos (Royal Consort)
Queen consort of the Hellenes
19 December 1920 – 27 September 1922
Succeeded by
Elisabeth of Romania