Queen Sofia of Spain has been on a visit to her homeland of Greece since Sunday. The Spanish monarch, who was born in Athens with the title of Princess of Greece and Denmark, has now returned to her birthplace.
Queen Sofia first landed at the airport located on the Greek island of Leros but has made her way to Athens since that time, meeting with the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Friday.
Queen Sofia in Greece
When Queen Sofia of Spain first arrived in Greece, she was welcomed by Metropolitan Paisios of Leros, Kalymnos and Astypalea, as well as the Mayor of Leros, Kolias Michalis. Also present at Leros Airport were Deputy Mayor of Financial Services Kastis Dimitris, and the Deputy Mayor of Leros, Billis Nektarios.
Her meeting with Mitsotakis on Friday took place in Maximos Mansion in downtown Athens. According to sources, the pair discussed the pandemic and took an optimistic stance, highlighting recent improvements in both Greece and Spain.
“Things are generally going better in our country, I think everywhere in Europe, and in Spain I see that things are also going better,” said Mitsotakis.
“I must say: the whole world admires Greece,” responded Queen Sofia, congratulating Mitsotakis’ handling of the pandemic.
“We are making a great effort,” he declared, likely referring to the sacrifices that have been made by the entire Greek populace over the past year.
Spanish, Greek, and Danish royalty
Queen Sofia was born in 1938 as the first child of King Paul of Greece and Frederica of Hanover. Much of her childhood was spent in exile due to World War II. The Spanish monarch spent much of her childhood in Alexandria, Egypt, before her family moved to South Africa for the rest of the Second World War.
They returned to Greece in 1946, but Queen Sofia finished her education at a boarding school in Germany. She then studied childcare, music and archaeology in Athens.
Born into Greek and Danish royalty, Queen Sofia met her future husband, King Juan Carlos of Spain, on a cruise of the Greek islands in 1954. They married in the Catholic Cathedral of Saint Dionysius in 1962.
Queen Sofia then converted from Greek Orthodoxy to Roman Catholicism in order to court the Spanish public, changing her name from the Greek spelling “Sophia” to the Spanish form she uses today.
Queen Sophia and King Juan Carlos I have three children: Infanta Elena, Duchess of Lugo, Infanta Christina, and the current King of Spain, Felipe VI.
Sofía was in Greece making a private visit to her brother, King Constantine II, when the 1967 Greek military coup took place.
Since the military junta abolished the Greek monarchy in 1973 — and the move remained popular even following the restoration of democracy — King Constantine II has been stripped of his title, citizenship and property in Greece.
Except for a brief stay for the funeral of her mother in 1981, Queen Sofia did not visit the Hellenic Republic again until 1998.