Sophia of Prussia

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София Прусская
Karalis, Princese
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Sophia of Prussia (Sophie Dorothea Ulrike Alice, Greek: Σοφία; 14 June 1870 – 13 January 1932) was Queen of Greece from 1913 to 1917 and from 1920 to 1922 as the wife of King Constantine I.

A member of the House of Hohenzollern and child of Frederick III, German Emperor, 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 married her third cousin Constantine, heir apparent to 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 in 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 showed the most social activity: she founded field hospitals, oversaw the training of Greek nurses, and treated 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 eldest brother, German Emperor William II, was indeed an ally of the Ottoman Empire and openly opposed the construction of the Megali Idea, which could establish a Greek state that would encompass all ethnic Greek-inhabited areas. During World War I, the blood ties between Sophia and the Emperor also aroused the suspicion of the Triple Entente, which criticized Constantine I for his neutrality in the conflict.

After imposing a blockade of Greece and supporting the rebel government of Eleftherios Venizelos, causing the National Schism, France and its allies deposed Constantine in June 1917. Sophia and her family then went into exile in Switzerland. Sophia's second son, Alexander, replaced his father on the throne. At the same time, Greece entered the war alongside the Triple Entente, which allowed it to grow considerably. After the outbreak of the Greco-Turkish War in 1919 and the untimely death of Alexander the following year, the Venizelists abandoned power, allowing the royal family to return to Athens. However, the defeat of the Greek army against the Turkish troops of Mustafa Kemal forced Constantine to abdicate in 1922, at which point his eldest son became King George II. Sophia and her family were then forced to a new exile, and settled in Italy, where Constantine died one year later, in 1923. With the proclamation of the Republic in Athens the following year, Sophia spent her last years alongside her family, before dying of cancer in Germany in 1932 at the age of 61.

Burial - 16 January 1932, Greek Orthodox Church, Florence, Italy
22 November 1936 Royal Cemetery, Tatoi Palace, Greece

Spouse - Constantine I of Greece, ​(m. 1889; died 1923)​


  • George II, King of Greece
  • Alexander, King of Greece
  • Helen, Queen Mother of Romania
  • Paul, King of Greece
  • Irene, Queen of Croatia and Duchess of Aosta
  • Princess Katherine, Lady Brandram


Princess of Prussia and Germany Birth in a difficult context Princess Sophie with her parents and siblings. Standing left to right: Prince Heinrich, Crown Princess Viktoria, Crown Prince Frederick William with Princess Margaret, Prince Wilhelm, and Princess Charlotte. (seated left to right) Princess Victoria, Princess Sophie and Prince Waldemar. 1875

Princess Sophie was born in the Neues Palais in Potsdam, Prussia, on 14 June 1870 as the daughter of Frederick William, Crown Prince of Prussia, and Victoria, Princess Royal of the United Kingdom. The Crown Prince was the son of King William I of Prussia, and the Princess Royal was the eldest child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Frederick William and Victoria were already the parents of a large family and as the penultimate child, Sophie was eleven years younger than her eldest brother, the future William II of Germany. Sophie's parents were a close couple, both on sentimental and political levels. Being staunch liberals, they lived away from the Berlin court and suffered the intrigues of a very conservative German chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, and members of the House of Hohenzollern.

A week after Sophie's birth, a case relating to succession to the throne of Spain 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 French government under Emperor Napoleon III declared war on Prussia and the states of the German Confederation offered support to Prussia, which then appeared as the victim of French imperialism. It was in this difficult context that Sophie 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".

However, the conflict lasted only a few months and even led to a brilliant German victory, leading to the proclamation of Sophie's grandfather William I as the first German emperor on 18 January 1871.

Marital problems and private life

Sophia and Constantine's marriage was harmonious during the first years. However, faithfulness was not the greatest quality of the Diadochos and his wife soon had to deal with his numerous extramarital affairs. Initially shocked by his betrayal, Sophia soon followed the example of her mother-in-law and condoned the behavior of her husband. 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 had recently divorced from Prince Hermann of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach; this relationship lasted until Constantine's death.

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, true or false, did not affect Constantine, who easily recognized his paternity.

In private, the Crown Princely couple communicated in English and it was mainly in this language that they raised their children, who grew 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 for several weeks every year, the family spent time in Great Britain, where she visited the beaches of Seaford and Eastbourne. However, the summer vacations of the family were spent not only in Friedrichshof with the Empress Dowager, but also in Corfu and Venice, where the Greek royal family went aboard the yacht Amphitrite.

Private life

After their accession to the throne, Constantine and Sophia continued to lead the simple lifestyle that they had enjoyed during their time as heirs. They spent their free time practising botany, which was their common passion, and transformed the gardens of the New Royal Palace on the English model.

The couple was very close to other members of the royal family, especially Prince Nicholas. Every Tuesday, the King and Queen dined with him and his wife Elena, and on Thursdays, they returned the visit with the royal couple at the Royal Palace.


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