Duchess Sophie of Württemberg at the wedding of Duchess Sophie of Württemberg and Maximilien d’Andigné, 2018. 
Photo (c) Getty Images / David Nivière.

Today, Duchess Sophie of Württemberg celebrates her eighty-fifth birthday!

The engagement of Albrecht Eugen of Württemberg and Nadejda of Bulgaria is announced in January 1924.
Newlyweds: Duke Albrecht Eugen of Württemberg and Princess Nadejda of Bulgaria

Born on 16 February 1937 at Stuttgart, Duchess Sophie Eudoxie Louise Josepha Margarethe Theresia vom Kinde Jesu Konrada Donata of Württemberg was the second daughter and fifth child of Duke Albrecht Eugen of Württemberg (1895-1954) and his wife Princess Nadejda of Bulgaria (1899-1958), who married in 1924. Sophie had four older siblings: Duke Ferdinand Eugen (1925-2020), Duchess Margarethe (1928-2017; married François Luce de Chevigny), Duke Eugen Eberhard (b.1930; married Archduchess Alexandra of Austria-Tuscany), and Duke Alexander (b.1933). Sophie’s paternal grandparents were Duke Albrecht of Württemberg (1865-1939) and Archduchess Margarete Sophie of Austria (1870-1902). The duchess’s maternal grandparents were King Ferdinand of Bulgaria (1861-1948) and Princess Marie Louise of Bourbon-Parma (1870-1899).

Lindach Castle.

Until the outbreak of World War II, Duke Albrecht Eugen and Duchess Nadejda of Württemberg lived with their children at a property in Silesia. After 1945 and the loss of this property to the Polish government under Soviet control, the family relocated to Schloß Lindach, near Schwäbisch Gmünd. Duchess Sophie, the couple’s youngest child, spend her youth at Schloß Lindach. She attended a convent school in Wald run by nuns. In 1954, Sophie lost her father when Albrecht Eugen was killed in an automobile accident. In 1957, Sophie studied at the School of Household Arts in Stuttgart. The following year, in 1958, a day before her twenty-first birthday, Sophie was orphaned when her mother Nadeja died on 15 February, aged only fifty-nine. After the death of her mother, Sophie went to live with her brother Alexander in Munich. In 1961, the duchess went to Paris in order to study French. For six months, she took courses at the Alliance Française. Sophie then joined the fashion firm Heim Jeunes Filles as a sales assistant and designer, then, in 1967, she went to work for Maison Balmain.

Duchess Sophie during her religious wedding wearing the Chaumet Diamond Fringe Tiara, which formerly belonged to Queen Eleonore of Bulgaria.
Duchess Sophie, Antonio Manuel Rôxo de Ramos-Bandeira, Duke Ferdinand, Duchess Margarethe, Princess Eudoxia of Bulgaria, Duchess Alexandra and Duke Eugen Eberhard. 
Duchess Sophie at her wedding ball.

In February 1969, Duchess Sophie of Württemberg married Portuguese diplomat Antonio Manuel Rôxo de Ramos-Bandeira (1937-1987), the son of Dr. Antonio de Ramos-Bandeira and Alice de Souza-Rôxo. In addition to members of the Württemberg royal family, the wedding was attended by 120 guests, including Archduke Hubert and Archduchess Rosemary of Austria-Tuscany, Margravine Valerie of Baden, Prince Ludwig and Princess Marianne of Baden, Princess Eudoxie of Bulgaria, Fürst Friedrich and Fürstin Margarethe of Hohenzollern, Hereditary Prince Alois-Konstantin zu Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg, Duke Friedrich August and Duchess Marie Cecile of Oldenburg, Duke Roberto of Parma, Fürst Franz Joseph of Thurn und Taxis, and Fürst Georg of Waldburg zu Zeil und Trauchburg. A most unhappy chapter for the duchess, Sophie and Antonio’s union ended in divorce in 1974 and was religiously annulled in 1976. The couple did not have children.

Sophie during her time with Nina Ricci, 1988.
Princess Masha Magaloff and Duchess Sophie of Württemberg – two of Nina Ricci’s leaders, 1993.
Photo (c) T. Umeda.

Beginning in 1982, Duchess Sophie of Württemberg became an executive with Nina Ricci, a position that she held for several decades. She directed the fashion house’s haute couture department. She worked side-by-side with Princess Masha Magaloff (née Asanschevski-Asancheyev), the wife of Russian aristocrat Prince Michael Magaloff. In the early 1990s, the duchess and the princess were in Hawaii for a Ricci show. While there, they gave a very amusing and insightful interview to The Honolulu Advertiser about the goings on in the world of a fashion insider. Sophie started: “You go to the office, you have a meeting with your director, maybe shouting for an hour, and right after work you go to a cocktail party and you have to be chic. So you have a lovely suit and you change it with a little scarf, another necklace, earrings a little more sparkly. A gray suit is very nice, then you change the blouse for the evening. Pink perhaps.” Masha added: “Pink is always magic to a ladyI have a fatal love for pink.” Sophie then went on to muse about the arduous consultations that involve working with a bride choosing a haute couture gown, which she noted usually took days: “The bride has one idea. Mama has another. Grandmama has another…” Masha interjected: “[And] Auntie has another.” “Then the bride starts crying,” Sophie summarised. Sophie continued: “Black can be super chic, but on some women it can be too cruel. Navy is gentler.” The duchess mentioned that Princess Barbara of Yugoslavia was an ideal client: “She’ll see a dress and say, ‘That’s the one.’ Others try the whole collection and say, ‘Now I cannot decide…it was too much.’

Duchess Sophie in 2000.
Photo (c) Seeger-Presse.
Duchess Sophie and her brother Duke Alexander at the 70th birthday celebrations of their first cousin Duke Carl of Württemberg, 2006.
Photo (c) Seeger-Presse / Sandra Zellner.
Duchess Sophie and her brother Duke Ferdinand at the wedding of Hereditary Prince Hubertus of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, 2009.
Photo (c) Seeger-Presse / Albert Nieboer.

A favourite amongst her relations, Sophie of Württemberg is often to be seen at royal weddings and funerals. The duchess lives in Paris.

Duchess Sophie in 1997.
Photo (c) Seeger-Presse.

Our best wishes to Duchess Sophie on her birthday!

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