|Sophie (seated in the center of the group) with her family|
via Wikimedia Commons
Sophie grew up with English nurses and taking holidays on the Isle of Wight amidst a vast array of cousins. However, her childhood was not all sunshine. When she was only 8, her cousin Mary of Hesse and her aunt Alice died from diptheria. (You can read my post about that, The Kiss of Death.) A few months later, her nearest brother Waldemar contracted the same disease and died at age 11. A couple of years later, her dear sister Viktoria was prevented from marrying the man she loved for political reasons, although Vicky and Friedrich had approved of the match. It was a precursor of what Sophie would face.
|Sophie and Constantine|
By Wilhelm Hoofers via Wikimedia Commons
Sophie maintained a close relationship with her mother. Their correspondence was as voluminous as Vicky's was with her own mother Queen Victoria. Sophie had also inherited a lot of Vicky's spunk; she was never a shrinking violet although she did her best to do her duty. The marriage was initially very popular among the Greek people, especially after Sophie decided to convert to Orthodoxy after all. This severely angered her brother, who even banned her from visiting Germany for a time. Despite the bad blood between them, however, Sophie's German roots would come to haunt her.
Greece never had a stable monarchy. After the Greeks lost the Thirty Days War against the Ottomans in 1897, some felt she had sided against her adopted country in favor of her homeland, the Turks' ally. Her husband even came close to being tried in a military court for his role in the defeat and her father-in-law, King George I of Greece, was nearly assassinated. So, the couple decided to leave Greece and were welcomed back to Germany by Kaiser Wilhelm. Constantine undertook more military training, but German training could hardly erase the political smear left on him by the war.
|Sophie with her daughters Irene,|
Helen and Katherine
By RealPolitik via Wikimedia Commons
This led to greater danger for Sophie and Constantine, who had recovered from his illness. When a fire broke out on the royal grounds, many believed it had been assassination attempt. (You can read my post about Sophie's escape, Fire at the Palace.) Even though Constantine reluctantly allowed the French to come to Greece to claim guns and soldiers, the French bombarded the palace causing Sophie and the royal children to take refuge in the cellars. By summer 1917, Constantine was forced to relinquish his powers to his second son, Alexander, while he and Sophie went into exile in Switzerland. Alexander's death from an infected monkey bite in 1920 caused a constitutional crisis. Their third son refused to take the throne over his still-living father and oldest brother. Eventually, Constantine was invited back.
|By Georgics Jakobides via Wikimedia Commons|
It is through King Paul that the name Sophie has been passed down to today. He named his oldest daughter Sophia. She was born nearly seven years after her grandmother's death. While the new Sophia of Greece's brother Constantine II would become the last king of Greece (he has been in exile now for more than 50 years), this Sophia would marry the heir to another deposed throne, whose return as the monarch King Juan Carlos actually brought democracy instead of dictatorship to Spain. Now known as Queen Sofia of Spain, she was honored with the passing of the name to her own granddaughter, Infanta Sofia in 2007. So, our Sophie's granddaughter and her granddaughter's granddaughter will carry the name forward well into this century and perhaps the next.
TODAY'S ROYAL SOPHIEs