Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Golden Wedding Anniversary for Spanish Monarchs



Their Majesties King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain reached their fiftieth wedding anniversary on Monday, May 14. However, recent controversies surrounding the Spanish royal house have marred the anniversary, and the royal household announced that neither public nor private celebrations would be held to commemorate the milestone. 




Prince Juan Carlos of Spain and Princess Sophia of Greece with bridesmaids at their May 1962 wedding. Bridesmaids include Sophia's sister, Princess Irene of Greece (who stands to her left), and Sophia's future sister-in-law, Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark (standing to the right of Juan Carlos). Anne-Marie would marry Sophia's brother Constantine two years later.  
Princess Sophia of Greece waves from the carriage on her wedding day, May 14, 1962. 

Fifty years ago, on May 14, 1962, Prince Juan Carlos of Spain and Princess Sophia of Greece were married in the bride's native Athens in one of the twentieth century's grandest unions of two European dynasties. Juan Carlos was the grandson of the late King Alfonso XIII of Spain and an heir to the deposed Spanish throne, while Sophia was the eldest daughter of King Paul of Greece.

King Paul of Greece performs the Greek Orthodox tradition of holding crowns over the heads of his daughter, Princess Sophia, and her husband, Prince Juan Carlos of Spain, during their wedding ceremony on May 14, 1962.

The wedding was one of the most spectacular royal events Athens had ever seen; the only other event that would rival it would be the wedding of Sophia's younger brother, King Constantine II, to Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark two years later. Crowned heads from all across Europe attended, most of whom were related to the bridal couple. Both Juan Carlos and Sophia were descendants of Queen Victoria of Great Britain - Juan Carlos' great-grandmother, Princess Beatrice, and Sophia's great-grandmother, Victoria, Princess Royal, were daughters of the Queen.

After the wedding, Juan Carlos and Sofia (she changed the spelling of her name to its Spanish form) resided in Madrid, where the dictator Francisco Franco had given them permission to reside in the former royal palace. Franco later decided that upon his death, the Spanish monarchy would be restored with Juan Carlos as its king. Juan Carlos and Sofia became King and Queen of Spain in 1975 upon Franco's death, and since then they have enjoyed a significantly high degree of popularity among the Spanish people. The marriage has produced three children - Elena, Cristina and Felipe.

Sadly, the King and Queen's anniversary has been tainted by recent events concerning a highly controversial hunting trip the King took to Africa, and just weeks ago one of the King and Queen's grandchildren accidentally shot himself in the foot. The announcement by the royal household that there would be no commemoration of the royal wedding anniversary ignited long-standing rumors about the unhappiness of the King and Queen's marriage.

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