Saturday, May 14, 2011

King Juan Carlos I of Spain and Sophia of Greece and Denmark (now Queen Sofia) have been married for 49 years today!

King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia have now been married for 49 years. Let's take a quick look at how it went half a century ago.

The engagement
The royal couple got engaged on December 12, 1961, having met on a yacht. In the photo above, of the official engagement, from left to right: Princess Irene of Greece, Prince Constantine 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.

Some background
Juan Carlos and Sophia are both Queen Victoria's descendants and therefore 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

The wedding ceremony
The prince and princess were married at two church ceremonies. The first ceremony took place at the Roman Catholic Church of St. Denis, Athens, Greece. Accompanied by her father and brother Constantine, Sophia arrived at the church in a majestic golden royal coach pulled by six horses.
The emotion of the day finally got to the bride by the time she reached the altar. Tears fell down her cheeks, and a concerned Juan Carlos offered her his handkerchief and held her arm to comfort her. By the way, 42 years after, Felipe did the exact same with Letizia.
After the couple were pronounced husband and wife, mass was celebrated. The strains of Mozart’s Coronation Mass and Perosi’s Magnificat filled the church. Accompanied by Handel’s Alleluia, Juan Carlos and Sophia left the church to be greeted by rapturous crowds.
After the one-hour Catholic ceremony, the couple then traveled in a carriage drawn by six white horses to a second ceremony at the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral of the Virgin Mary.

The bride’s dress
The bride wore a silver-white lamé gown encrusted with Brussels lace and antique brocade, by Greek designer Jean Dessés.

The bride’s veil
The veil was 15-feet long, and had been used 25 years earlier at the wedding of the bride’s parents, Princess Federica of Hanover and Prince Pavlos of Greece.

The bride’s tiara
Sophia’s elegant imperial-style tiara, made of platinum and diamonds, was given to her by her mother Queen Frederica.
Since the tiara was made it has been connected with dynastic weddings. Kaiser Wilhelm II gave it to his daughter Princess Victoria of Prussia when she married the Crown Prince of Hannover, Ernesto Augusto.
Victoria’s daughter Queen Frederica of Greece was herself given the tiara by her mother when she married the then Prince Pavlos of Greece.
Queen Sofía of Spain loaned the tiara to her daughter-in-law Princess Letizia on her marriage to Sofía’s son Felipe and she has been using it ever since.

The flowers
The bride carried a small bouquet of lily of the valley. The Orthodox Cathedral was decorated with 35,000 roses, Sophia’s favorite flower; red and yellow carnations, the colors of Spain, filled the Roman Catholic Church.

The bride and groom’s attendants
The bride was attended by Princess Irene of Greece (the bride’s sister), Infanta Pilar of Spain (the groom’s sister), Princess Irene of the Netherlands, Princess Alexandra of Kent, and Princesses Beneditke and Anne Marie of Denmark—the latter Danish princess would eventually become the bride’s sister-in-law, Princess Anne of France, and Princess Tatiana Radziwill. Prince Michael of Greece, the Duke of Aosta, and Infante Alfonso de Orleans acted on behalf of the groom.

The wedding banquet
Once the Orthodox ceremony finished, the newlyweds returned to the Greek royal palace. After a brief royal civil ceremony, a fantastic banquet for more than one thousand guests was held in honor of Juan Carlos and Sophia.

The guest list
The wedding saw the biggest gathering of royals in Europe since before 1914. Over 150 members of Europe’s royal families were invited, including representatives from the royal houses of Greece, Spain, Great Britain, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Bourbon-Two Sicilies, Hanover, Portugal, France, Monaco, Luxembourg, Parma, Württemberg, and Romania.
Thousands of Spaniards traveled from Spain to Greece to witness the wedding of their future King and Queen. Prince Juan Carlos and Princess Sophia hosted a large garden party at the Hellenic Tennis Club to acknowledge their Spanish guests’ support and enthusiasm for the union.

The honeymoon
After the wedding banquet, the couple left for the royal retreat on the island of Corfu, starting a four month honeymoon and also spent time in New York.

King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia are still married *sigh of relief*, have two daughters and a son, Elena, Cristina and Felipe. Infanta Elena married Jaime de Marichalar in 1995 and have two children. They divorced in 2010. Infanta Cristina married Iñaki Urdangarin in 1999 and have four children. They now live in Washington. Don Felipe married Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano in 2004. They now have two children.

sources for this article 1, 2 and 3