Born in Athens on November 2, 1938, she is the eldest child of King Paul I of Greece and his wife, Queen Frederika. The family belongs to one of the oldest royal houses in Europe.
She spent part of her childhood in Egypt and South Africa during her family's exile from Greece during the Second World War. She returned to her homeland in 1946, finished her education at the German Schloss Salem boarding school and returned to Athens, where she specialised in paediatrics, music and archaeology. She participated in the Greek sailing team during the Rome Olympic Games in 1960.
In Athens on May 14, 1962 she married Prince Juan Carlos de Borbon y Borbon of Spain, and in the following years they had three children: the Infanta Elena, on December 20, 1963, the Infanta Cristina on June 13, 1965, and Prince Felipe on January 30, 1968. She has eight grandchildren: Felipe and Victoria from the Infanta Elena (and husband Jaime de Marichalar, Duke of Lugo); Juan, Pablo, Miguel and Irene from the Infanta Cristina (with Iñaki Urdangarin); and Infanta Leonor and Infanta Sofia - the latter named after her - from Prince Felipe (with Letizia Ortiz).
In addition to her participation in official and institutional events, the Queen devotes much of her attention to social and welfare activities. She is Executive President of the Queen Sofia Foundation. She is also the honorary president of the "Foundation for Aid against Drug Addiction" and the "Royal Board for Handicapped Persons", as well as several cultural and musical institutions, such as the "Queen Sofia College of Music".
She also participates in several international projects on the development of rural women and business expansion in the weakest social sectors through microcredits.
The Queen is an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando and the Royal Academy of History. She has received Honorary Doctorates from the Universities of Rosario (Bogota), Valladolid, Cambridge, Oxford, Georgetown, Evora and New York.