Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Juan Carlos to marry Sophie of Greece

September 13, 1961

Prince Juan Carlos, son of the Spanish pretender to the throne, is to marry Princess Sophia, eldest daughter of King Paul and Queen Frederika of Greece.  The announcement was made today, reports the New York Times.

The engagement was "made public last night" at the home of Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain in Lausanne, Switzerland.  The "news of the engagement was telephoned at 3 A.M., today" by King Paul to his son, Crown Prince Constantine.

The Crown Prince is acting as regent while King Paul is out of the country.  The 21-year-old heir to the Greek throne gave a "champagne party this morning for Greek newspaper editors" at the Royal Palace in Athens.   A twenty-one gun salute was fired from Mount Lycabettus, "the highest point in Athens."

Prince Juan Carlos and Princess Sophie, along with King Paul, Queen Frederika and the Count of Barcelona, Juan Carlos' father, are expected in Athens tomorrow.

The date of the wedding has not been announced.  It is "assumed" that Princess Sophia, 23, who is a member of the Greek Orthodox church, will "have to embrace Roman Catholicism, the faith of her future husband."

Prince Juan Carlos, 23, and Princess Sophia first met on a cruise of the Greek islands in August 1954.  The cruise was hosted by Queen Frederika, who had invited about ninety members of European royal families to spend some time together.

Since then, the young couple have met several times.  Juan Carlos spent "most of this summer as King Paul's guest" at his summer home on Corfu.  At the time, "rumors of a romance" were denied.

Princess Sophia, who attended boarding school in Germany, is second in line to the Greek throne.

The succession to the Spanish throne remains unclear. Generalissmo Francisco Franco has announced that the "monarchy will be restored in Spain," but he has not officially designated an heir.   He has allowed "the rumor to spread" that he will bypass the Count of Barcelona in favor of Prince Juan Carlos.

However,  Franco's own law of succession "provides that the King of Spain must be 30 years old."   Juan Carlos is only 23.  His father is 47.   However,  Juan Carlos's "loyalty to his father has never been questioned."

Don Juan is the third son of the late King Alfonso XIII, whose wife, Queen Victoria Eugenia, is a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. 

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