Queen Frederica

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Frederica of Hanover

Frederica of Hanover, Frederica Luise Thyra Victoria Margarita Sophia Olga Cecilia Isabella Christa, Princess of Hanover, Duchess of Brunswick-Lüneburg 1917-1981 was Queen consort of the Hellenes (Greece) during the reign of her husband King Paul of Greece(1947-1964)

Frederica of Hanover was born on April 18 1917 in Blankenburg, Harz, Germany to Ernst August, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and Princess Viktoria Luise of Prussia, a daughter of Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and Augusta Viktoria, Duchess of Schleswig-Holstein.

Through her maternal grandfather Frederica was a great-granddaughter of Friedrich III, German Emperor and Princess Victoria, Princess Royal, eldest daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

Through this relationship Frederica was a distant cousin of Queen Elizabeth II and also of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. As a descendant of George III, she was, at birth, 34th in the line of succession to the British throne although she had no British rank or title.

In 1936 Crown Prince Paul, later King Paul of Greece proposed to her in Berlin when he was there to see the 1936 Summer Olympics. Their engagement was announced official on September 28, 1937. On January 9, 1938 they married in Athens, Greece. Paul was the son of Constantine I and Princess Sophie of Prussia, sister of Kaiser Wilhelm. (Therefore he was a great-grandson of Queen Victoria and a second cousin to Frederica)

During the early part of their marriage they resided at Villa Psychiko in the suburbs of Athens. Ten months after their marriage their first child was born on November 2, 1938: Sophia, the future Queen Sofia of Spain. On June 2, 1940 their son and heir, Constantine was born. At the peak of World War II, in April, 1941 the Greek Royal Family had to evacuate to Crete in a Sunderland flying boat.

In exile, King George II and the rest of the Greek Royal Family settled in South Africa. Here Frederica's last child Princess Irene was born on May 11, 1942, the South African leader, General Jan Smuts, served as her godfather.

Shortly afterwards the German forces attacked Crete. Frederica and her family were forced to evacuate again, setting up a government-in-exile office in London. The family eventually settled in Egypt in February of 1944.

On September 1, 1946 Greece decided in a plebiscite to restore King George to the throne. The Crown Prince and Princess, as Paul and Frederica were now titled, returned to their villa in Psychiko. A year later on April 1, 1947 George II died, Frederica and her husband ascended the throne as King Paul I and Queen Frederica of the Hellenes.

Political instability blamed by critics on communists in Northern Greece led to into civil war. The King and Queen toured Northern Greece under severe security to try appeal for loyalty in the summer of 1947.

The King and queen worked tirelessly for the royalist cause. The Greek Civil War ended in August, 1949. The King & Queen took this opportunity to strengthen the monarchy, they paid official visits to Marshal Josip Broz Tito in Belgrade, the Presidents Luigi Einaudi of Italy in Rome, Theodor Heuss of West Germany, Bechara El Khoury of Lebanon, Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia , Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari of India, George VI of the United Kingdom, and the United States as guest of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. However at home in Greece Frederica was often the target of opposition, because as a girl Frederica had belonged to a Hitler Youth group. While at school in Italy, she was said to have been heard defending Nazi Germany and three of her brothers served in the Wehrmacht. Her defenders argued that it would be an unwise parent in 1930s Germany who did not allow their offspring to join the Hitler Youth, and she would not have been the only German child to have, in their naivety, to defended the political system operating there at the time. However in adulthood these things were to be weighed against her, by critics on the left. Opposition also arose against her, during her reign as queen and even later, on account of her strong-willed personality and her meddling in Greek political affairs (often based on personal likes and dislikes).

Her November 16, 1953 appearance in Life Magazine as America's guest was taken on one of the many state visits she paid around the world. Also that year she appeared on the cover of Time Magazine. On May 14, 1962 her eldest daughter Sofia married Don Juan Carlos of Spain, (later King Juan Carlos) in Athens.

On March 6, 1964 King Paul died, and her son ascended the throne as Constantine II. He married Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark later that year on September 18. Queen Frederica, now Queen Mother, attended many royal events including the christenings of her grandchildren in both Spain and Greece. She still remained unpopular, though, as people saw her as the driving force behind her son.

Constantine's clashes with Prime Minister Georgios Papandreou were blamed by critics for causing the destabilisation that led to a military coup on April 21, 1967. After a clumsily organised counter-coup by the King failed, he was forced to flee into exile. On June 1, 1973 the Regime of the colonels abolished the Greek Monarchy. The new head-of-state was President of Greece George Papadopoulos.

The dictatorship ended on July 24, 1974. A new democratic plebiscite was held in 1974 and confirmed the abolition of the monarchy.

Queen Frederica died on February 6, 1981 in exile in Madrid during ophthalmic surgery. In its obituary of the Queen, The New York Times reported that she died during "eyelid surgery," which led to frequent but unsubstantiated rumors that she died while undergoing plastic surgery. Other sources state that she died of a heart attack while undergoing the removal of cataracts.

She was interred at Tatoi (the Royal family's palace and burial ground in Greece). Her son and his family were allowed to attended the service but had to leave immediately after.