Friederike Luise Thyra Victoria Margarita Sophia Olga Cecilia Isabella Christa of Hanover is quite a lot to fit on a birth certificate, isn’t it? Within her family, she was known as Freddie, much easier for everyday use. She was born in 1917, and the long name was indicative of her lineage. She was royal to the core. Her father was Ernest Augustus, Duke of Brunswick, who is the grandfather of the current Ernst August of Hanover (the estranged husband of Princess Caroline). Her mother was Victoria Louise of Prussia, the daughter of Kaiser Wilhelm II and a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria.
In 1918, when she was still an infant, World War I ended in defeat for Germany. Freddie’s entire family was thrown into turmoil: her maternal grandfather, the Kaiser, and her father were both removed from power. Her paternal grandfather, Ernest Augustus, lost his British dukedom due to his support of Germany.
Freddie was a young woman living in Germany during the lead-up to World War II and the rise of the Nazis to power. Adolf Hitler considered her family, by then devoid of actual power, to be excellent political pawns. He proposed that the then seventeen-year-old be married off to the Prince of Wales, thus combining two royal houses. Freddie’s parents were dismayed by the request. Not only was it far away, but the Prince was also 22 years older than Frederica. Fortunately, the plan did not proceed. Instead, Freddie became engaged to her future husband, Prince Paul of Greece, at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.
Above, Frederica around the time of her wedding, wearing Queen Sophie’s Diamond Tiara
The young couple married in 1938 and settled outside of Athens. The couple’s first two children, Sophia (later Queen Sofia of Spain), and Constantine (Constantine II of Greece), were born in Greece. As World War II progressed, the royal family went into exile in a series of places, first in Crete and then in London. Eventually, they found their way to South Africa, where their third child, Irene, was born. The entire family would finish out their exile in Egypt.
World War II ended and Prince Paul’s brother, George II, was reinstated to the Greek throne by referendum. After George’s death a short seven months later, Prince Paul became King of Greece, and Freddie became Frederica, Queen of the Hellenes.
Even though World War II was over, Greece was still embroiled in a civil war between the established government and the military branch of the Communist party. The new Queen and King traveled throughout the north of the country in an effort to bring unity. The Queen was energetic and outspoken from the get-go. She established several charities for the abandoned and destitute children of the country. The opposition alleged that the charities were fronts for various nefarious purposes, such as illegally exporting children for adoption to other countries. No evidence exists that any such thing was happening.
Above, the Queen is shown on a royal tour on the Aegean sea aboard the Greek linger ‘Agamemnon.’ Over 100 members of various royal families joined them at various times. Queen Juliana of the Netherlands is in the background of this photo, holding her hat.
The Queen also had to defend herself against accusations of collusion with the Nazis. Her German background, her documented participation with Hitler youth groups, and her father’s and brothers’ active involvement with the German governments during World Wars I and II were all used to stir up controversy. The Queen did not shrink from the turmoil. Instead, she became vocally political and involved herself in active campaigning against communist party candidates. In a country that was already unstable, an activist Queen rocked the boat to a degree that was unprecedented.
Nevertheless, the Queen was reportedly popular among segments of the Greek public. Entertaining and talkative, she was also a welcome guest abroad. There was plenty of glamour at home, too. When the Queen’s son, Constantine, became engaged to Denmark’s Princess Anne-Marie, the party was grand. Frederica loaned Queen Sophie’s tiara to Queen Ingrid, a generous gesture and one we haven’t seen between two Queens since.
King Paul died in 1964 and Constantine married Anne-Marie soon after. With some nudging from her son, Frederica removed herself from public life, although accusations of political maneuvering still followed her. With her daughter, Princess Irene, she eventually moved into a life of exile, first in Italy and then India, before settling in Spain where her daughter Sofia was Queen.
Queen Frederica died suddenly in 1981 of a heart attack after eye surgery. The Greek government granted permission for her to be buried with her husband on the grounds of Tatoi Palace.