Saturday, July 18, 2015

Greece: Queen Olga's 70th Birthday!

One of my favorite royal women is Queen Olga of Greece (1851-1926). Born Grand Duchess Olga Konstantinovna of Russia, she was the eldest daughter of Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolaevich (one of the sons of Tsar Nicholas I) and of the former Princess Alexandra of Saxe-Altenburg.

Olga married in 1867 King George I of the Hellenes, the second monarch of modern-era Greece, yet the first of his dynasty. Born Prince William of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, second of the future King Christian IX of Denmark, he was elected King of the Hellenes and began his reign in 1863.

King George and Queen Olga were the parents of eight children: Constantine I (1869-1923), who married Princess Sophie of Prussia; Peter (1869-1957), who married Princess Marie Bonaparte; Alexandra (1870-1891). married to Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich of Russia; Nicholas (1872-1938), who married Grand Duchess Helen Vladimirovna of Russia; Maria (1876-1940), who married firstly Grand Duke George Mikhailovich of Zrussia, and secondly Admiral Pericles Ionnides; Olga (1880); Andreas (1882-1944), who married Princess Alice of Battenberg; and Christopher (1888-1940), who married firstly Mrs Nancy Leeds, and secondly Princess Françoise of France.

This particular photo was taken in 1921 to commemorate the 70th birthday of Queen Olga, who was adored by her grandchildren. Her eldest grandchild, Grand Duchess Marie Pavlovna Jr. was born in 1890, while her youngest grandchild, Prince Michael of Greece was born in 1939. Of all of King George I and Queen olga's grandchildren, only two survive: HRH the Duke of Edinburgh (b. 1921) and Prince Michael of Greece.

From left: Princess Marina, Princess Margarita and Princess Katherine of Greece; Princess Xenia Georgievna of Russia; Princess Theodora, princess Olga and Princess Sophie of Greece; Queen Olga; Princess Helen of Greece; Princess Nina Georgievna of Russia; Princess Elisabeth, Princess Irene and Princess Cecile of Greece.

Queen Olga, who was caught in Russia when revolution toppled her cousin the Tsar, managed to make it to the West before the butchery of the Imperial Family began. She witnessed untold misery in her country of birth and returned to an Europe deeply changed.

In exile she settled at the Villa Anastasia in Rome, the home of her youngest son Prince Christopher. She died at Pau, Bearn, France, in 1926.

Queen Olga of Greece, remains one of my absolute favorite royals!

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