Queen Sophia ~ King Juan Carlos I of Spain
The Greek Glücksburg Princess who became Queen of Spain


King Christian IX 

King Frederik VIII 
(Chr. IX's son) 

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Queen Alexandra 
(Chr. IX's daughter) 

King George I
(Chr. IX's son) 

Czarina Dagmar
(Chr. IX's daughter) 

Queen Astrid 

King Haakon VII 
(Frederik VIII's son) 

Grand Duchess Josephine-Charlotte 

Queen Sophia
(Princess of Greece) 

Cr. Princess Helena 
(Princess of Greece) 

Princess Olga 
(Princess of Greece) 

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Queen Sophia of Spain was born 1938 as Princess of Greece, the eldest daughter and first child of King Paul I and Queen Frederika of Greece.  In 1962 she married Don Juan Carlos, from 1975 king of Spain as King Juan Carlos I (*1938). The Queen is the sister of ex-King Constantine II of Greece, who now lives in exile in London. Her youngest sister is Princess Irene (*1942), who has remained unmarried and lives in Spain as a professional concert pianist. 

These stamps were issued in celebration of King Juan Carlos I's accession to the throne after the death of the Spanish dictator, General Francisco Franco. Juan Carlos I returned the country to democracy after the long dictatorship of General Franco. In 1962 he married Princess Sophia of Greece. 
  • Spain 1975. Queen Sophia.
  • Spain 1975. King Juan Carlos I. 
Spain 1975. Queen Sophia. Spain 1975. King Juan Carlos I of Spain.

The Queen's father, the late King Paul I of Greece was known to be very concerned about his children's marriages. Here is a nice photograph of the king visiting General Franco in Madrid prior to the marriage. It seems that the negotiations were successful -- on the right the official wedding photograph from the marriage that took place in Athens in 1962. 

King Paul I of Greece visiting General Franco in Madrid 1962.

Wedding photograph Princess Sophia of Greece and Prince Juan Carlos of Spain, Athens 1962.

  •  Madrid 1962. Photograph of General Franco together with Princess Sophia's father, King Paul I of Greece.
  • Athens 1962. Official wedding photograph of the royal couple in Athens 1962. 


The grandson of King Alfonso XIII, who was dethroned in 1931, he was born in Rome and educated in Switzerland and Madrid. Carefully groomed for his succession by Franco, Juan Carlos was proclaimed heir to the throne in 1969 and became king after Franco's death in 1975. As king, Juan Carlos is commander in chief of the armed forces, and he submits a candidate for prime minister who is then approved by parliament. 
  • Spain 1978. King Alfonso XIII, Juan Carlos' grandfather. 

His commitment to democracy was demonstrated by his actions when Civil Guard officers seized the Spanish parliament during an attempted right-wing coup in February 1981: 

Spain 1978. King Alfonso XIII

Juan Carlos’s personal appeal persuaded the majority of military personnel to support the government. Favoring gradual democratic reform, he instituted a parliamentary government based on a new constitution that was popularly approved in 1978. 

He has since provided a focus for national unity and underpinned the stability of democratic Spain as a constitutional monarchy. The Basque separatist terror group ETA made several abortive plans to assassinate him and members of his family during the 1980s and 1990s. In 1998 it was revealed that right-wing media figures apparently plotted in 1994 to force Juan Carlos to abdicate by publishing scandalous stories about him, as part of a wider plan to destabilize Spain. The couple's two daughters, the Princesses Elena and Cristina, are both married and live in Spain with their families. 

Spain 1984. Souvenir sheet from the Philatelic World Exhibition in Madrid April 1984. The Spanish Royal Family. Spain 1984. Close-ups of stamps from souvenir sheet 1984.
  • Spain 1984. Sheet issued for the Philatelic World Exhibition in Madrid, April 1984, showing the royal family. 

  • Spain 1984. Close-ups of the stamps from the souvenir sheet. 

    • Top row from left to right: King Juan Carlos I, The Royal Crest on a label without postal value, Queen Sofia. 

    • Bottom row from left to right: Princess Cristina *1965, Crown Prince Felipe of Asturias *1968, Princess Elena *1963. 

In 2004 Crown Prince Felipe married a Spanish civil citizen, Miss Letizia Ortiz. For this occasion Spain issued two quite different postage stamps to honour the royal couple.  Don Felipe de Borbón y Grecia, officially became heir to the throne on his 18th birthday, and received the official title of Principe de Asturias (a Spanish equivalent to the title of Prince of Wales). 

Spain 2004. Souvenir sheet commemorating the royal wedding.

  • Spain 2004. For the occasion of the Royal Wedding, Spain has issued this souvenir sheet, showing 

    • Top row:
      The Royal Crest (with no postal value), and portraits of the king and queen,

    • Bottom row:
      The Crown Prince, the royal palace in Valencia, and the Crown Prince together with miss Ortiz. 

Spain 2004. Philatelic celebration of Crown Prince Felipe's wedding to Letizia Ortiz. Stamp #1. Spain 2004. Philatelic celebration of Crown Prince Felipe's wedding to Letizia Ortiz. Stamp #2.
  • Spain 2004. Wedding issue at the occasion of the Crown Prince's marriage to Miss Letizia Ortiz. Both stamps are of the same face value. 

    • The stamp on the left is addressed "Boda de S.A.R. el Príncipe de Asturias con Dona Letizia Ortiz", and has the word "Congratulations" in four different Spanish languages (Castilian, Catalan, Gallego (Galician), and Euskera (Basque). 

    • The stamp on the right "only" Boda de S.A.R. el Príncipe de Asturias", and has the word "Congratulations" in Spanish only. 

Before her wedding Crown Princess Letizia was a moderator on Spanish TV. The philatelic communities of the world wish them a long and happy life together. 

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Sources and links: 

  • Bo Bramsen: "The House of Glücksburg through 150 Years", Danish ed., ISBN 87-01-00251-1. 

  • The Royal House of Spain 

  • First published May 2000. Revised 03-jan-2007  
    Copyright © 2000-2007 Ann Mette Heindorff
    All Rights Reserved

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