Category Archives: Romanian Royals

Breaking News: King Michael, last King of Romania has died

Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Former King Michael (Mihai) died at his residence in Switzerland on December 5, 2017 at the age of 96.  On March 2, 2016, it was announced that King Michael had been diagnosed with chronic leukemia and metastatic epidermoid carcinoma and that he was withdrawing from public life.  King Michael’s body will lie in state at Peleș Castle and then at the Royal Palace of Bucharest. The funeral service will be held at Bucharest’s Romanian Orthodox Patriarchal Cathedral and the King will be buried at the Cathedral of Curtea de Argeș.

Born in 1921, he was the only child of King Carol II of Romania and his second wife, Princess Helen of Greece and Denmark. When he was just four years old, his father renounced his own right to the throne, and Michael became the heir apparent to his grandfather, King Ferdinand. Upon the King Ferdinand’s death in 1927, Michael became King of Romania.

In December 1947, King Michael was summoned to Bucharest, the capital of Romania, to find his palace surrounded by troops loyal to the Communist regime. He was forced to sign a document of abdication and then forced to leave the country. In 1948, he publicly announced that his abdication was invalid, as it had been forced upon him, and that he remained the rightful King of Romania.

In 1948, Michael married Princess Anne of Bourbon-Parma and the couple had five daughters.  In 1997, the Romanian government restored Michael’s citizenship and in the following years, several properties were returned to the royal family. Michael and Anne then were able to live in Romania. Michael’s wife Anne died on August 1, 2016 in a hospital in Morges, Switzerland, at the age of 92.  King Michael is survived by his five daughters.

King Michael of Romania’s “health has worsened considerably”

King Michael of Romania; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

On November 6, 2017, the Royal Family of Romania released the following statement:

Yesterday afternoon, TRH Crown Princess Margareta and Prince Radu returned to Switzerland, to the private residence of His Majesty. King Michael’s general state of health has worsened considerably, with a significant decline in his physical strength. This week, the Royal Family will have a series of meetings with His Majesty’s doctors, in order to discuss the King’s current medical treatment and obtain their advice in the present circumstances.

On March 2, 2016, it was announced that King Michael (Mihai in Romanian) had been diagnosed with chronic leukemia and metastatic epidermoid carcinoma and that he was withdrawing from public life.  The eldest of his five daughters, Crown Princess Margareta, took on his public duties. King Michael’s wife Anne died on August 1, 2016, in a hospital in Morges, Switzerland, at the age of 92.

King Michael reigned from 1927-1930 and then again from 1940-1947 when he was forced to sign a document of abdication by the Communist regime. In 1948, he publicly announced that his abdication was invalid, as it had been forced upon him, and that he remained the rightful King of Romania.

The 96-year-old King Michael is the second oldest living descendant of Queen Victoria after The Duke of Edinburgh who was born four months earlier.

Queen Anne of Romania has died — UPDATED

Queen Anne and King Michael on their 60th Wedding Anniversary in 2008, with Crown Princess Margareta and her husband Prince Radu. photo source: Romanian Royal Family Website

Queen Anne of Romania, the wife of King Mihai, passed away at 1:45pm (local time) today, at a hospital in Morges, Switzerland.  She was 92.

Queen Anne was born Princess Anne of Bourbon-Parma, the daughter of Prince René of Bourbon-Parma and his wife, the former Princess Margrethe of Denmark.  She married King Mihai of Romania in 1948, and the couple had five daughters.

Queen Anne’s body will arrive in Romania on August 9th, and will then lie in state for one day in the Hall of Honor at Peleș Castle. She will then be moved to the Throne Room at the Royal Palace in Bucharest, where she will again lie in state for two days. Here, the public will be able to pay their last respects.

On Saturday, August 13th, the Queen’s coffin will be placed on a bier in the Royal Palace Square and a religious ceremony will be held. It will then travel in a procession to the New Cathedral of Curtea de Argeș, where a funeral and burial service will be held. This will be private, attended by the Romanian Royal Family and foreign Royal guests.

Reuters: Romania’s ex-Queen Anne dies in hospital at 92
Romania-Insider: Queen Anne of Romania dies at hospital in Switzerland
Royal Musings: Queen Anne of Romania has died

Princess Helen of Greece, Queen Mother of Romania

by Scott Mehl

source: Wikipedia

Princess Helen of Greece, Queen Mother of Romania

Princess Helen of Greece and Denmark, Queen Mother of Romania, was the second wife of King Carol II of Romania, the eldest son of King Ferdinand of Romania and Princess Marie of Edinburgh. She was born on May 2, 1896 in Athens, the third of six children of King Constantine I of the Hellenes and Princess Sophie of Prussia. Her siblings were:

Helen (left) with her brothers and sister Irene (seated), 1904. source: Wikipedia

Helen was educated at home by tutors and governesses and was particularly close with her brother, Alexander. Their family life was often disrupted by the political tension in Greece, and the family spent several years in exile. Following her grandfather’s assassination in 1913, Helen’s father became King of the Hellenes. However, he would be forced from the throne in 1917. The family settled in Switzerland, while Helen’s brother, Alexander, was chosen to replace his father.

Helen and Carol, 1921. source: Wikipedia

It was while in exile in 1920 that the Greek royal family was visited by Queen Marie of Romania and her daughters. This resulted in the engagement of Helen’s brother, the future King George II of the Hellenes, and Princess Elisabeta of Romania, Carol’s sister. The group was soon joined by Carol who was returning from a trip around the world, intended to separate him from his first (and former) wife, Zizi Lambrino. After traveling together to Romania for the engagement announcement, they returned together to Switzerland and became closer on the journey. After returning, Carol asked Helen’s father for her hand in marriage, and their engagement was announced in November 1920. They married on March 10, 1921, at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens, and following a honeymoon, returned to Romania. The couple had one son:

The couple had apartments at Cotroceni Palace, but lived at the château de Foisor on the grounds of Peleș Castle, and later moved to a house in Bucharest. The marriage was not a happy one. Helen was very proper and aristocratic, while Carol preferred spending his time partying with his friends, and in the company of other women. Within a few years, Carol began an affair with Magda Lupescu, and in 1925 he renounced his rights to the throne and left the country. Helen was given the title Princess of Romania.

In July 1927, King Ferdinand died, and Helen’s son Mihai ascended the throne at just five years old. Despite being the mother of the King, Helen had no official position, nor was she a member of the Regency Council. At the end of that year, Carol asked Helen for a divorce, which she initially refused. However, she later gave in to the advice of the government, and the couple was formally divorced on June 21, 1928.

In June 1930, Carol returned to Romania following a coup organized by Prime Minister Iuliu Maniu. The parliament voided his previous renunciation of the throne, and he was proclaimed King. Helen remained at their home in Bucharest with her son, while there was a significant discussion, both publicly and within the government, about annulling the couple’s divorce. Helen was told that since the 1926 renunciation was voided, she had technically become Queen of Romania when her father-in-law died in 1927. However, when presented with a decree from the government to confirm Helen as Her Majesty The Queen of Romania, Carol refused, insisting that she should be styled Her Majesty Helen.

Helen and her son, Mihai, in London, 1932. source: Wikipedia

While Helen considered the annulment of their divorce, Carol was adamantly against it. Faced with harsh treatment from Carol – guards placed around her home, visitors harassed – Helen left Romania, and traveled to her mother’s home in Italy. After she returned in 1932, King Carol began a media campaign to damage her reputation. The government finally interceded, announcing that she would be permitted to live in Romania for six months each year and take her son abroad for one month. They also confirmed her civil list payment. Despite all of this, she was expected to remain abroad. She purchased a home in Italy, and in 1934, moved into Villa Sparta – her mother’s former home – along with her brother Paul and two sisters. She remained there for ten years, only seeing her son for a month or two each year.

Villa Sparta. photo by By I, Sailko, source: Wikipedia

In 1940, Carol was forced to abdicate, and Mihai returned to the throne. Helen was called back to Romania and given the formal title Her Majesty the Queen Mother of Romania. Helen served as a close advisor to her son, and encouraged him to stand up to Prime Minister Ion Antonescu who had established himself as dictator.

During World War II, she devoted herself to caring for the wounded, and in 1942 she played a major role in stopping Antonescu’s plans to deport the Jews. For this, she was later awarded the status Righteous Among the Nations (in 1993, nearly eleven years after her death). By 1947, Romania was under Communist control, and Helen and King Mihai were treated very harshly. When the traveled to London for the wedding of Helen’s cousin, Philip Mountbatten, to Princess Elizabeth of the United Kingdom, many in the Romanian government hoped that they would not return. Despite being urged to remain in London, the two returned to Romania on December 21, 1947. Within days, King Mihai was forced to relinquish the throne, with threats of mass executions if he did not agree to abdicate. The country was proclaimed a republic and Mihai and Helen left Romania on January 3, 1948.

They settled in Switzerland, where they found themselves in poor financial circumstances. They had most of their assets and properties seized by the Romanian government, and had been stripped of their citizenship. Helen’s biggest concern was the upcoming marriage of her son to Princess Anne of Bourbon-Parma. Due to Anne’s Catholicism, most of her family refused to attend as the Pope would not sanction the marriage. Instead, Helen’s brother, King George II of the Hellenes, arranged for the couple to marry in Athens in June 1948.

Helen then returned to Villa Sparta in Italy, often hosting her son and his growing family, as well as her sister Irene and her son. She also traveled often to England and Greece to visit family, and participated in the Cruise of the Kings in 1954, hosted by her brother, King Paul of the Hellenes, and sister-in-law, Princess Frederica of Hanover. She also indulged her love of Renaissance painting and architecture, spending much of her time visiting museums and exhibits. Her love of gardening also led to a romance with the twice-widowed King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden, who reportedly proposed marriage but Helen declined. Always struggling financially, Helen was forced to sell off many of her remaining assets, and eventually had to give up Villa Sparta.

Grave of Queen Mother Helen of Romania. Photo by krischnig, source: Wikipedia

In 1979, now facing the effects of age as well as finances, Helen left Italy and settled in a small apartment in Lausanne, Switzerland. She later moved in with her son and his family. On November 28, 1982, Princess Helen of Greece, Queen Mother of Romania, died in Lausanne. She is buried at the Bois-de-Vaux Cemetery in Lausanne.

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King Carol II of Romania

by Scott Mehl

source: Wikipedia

King Carol II of Romania

King Carol II of Romania was born at Peleş Castle on October 15, 1893, the eldest son of the future King Ferdinand I of Romania and Princess Marie of Edinburgh. He had five younger siblings:

Carol (right) with his mother and sister, Elisabeta, 1895. source: Wikipedia

King Carol II was the first King of Romania to be born in Romania, and the first member of the Romanian royal family to be brought up in the Orthodox faith. His predecessors were both born in Germany, and had been permitted to remain members of the Roman Catholic church.

Carol with his great-uncle, King Carol I. source: Wikipedia

From a very early age, Carol was raised primarily by his great-uncle and aunt, King Carol I and Queen Elisabeth. The King felt that Carol’s parents were unable to raise their son in a proper way. Ferdinand and Marie were young, and Marie had already had several affairs which contrasted with the strict moral attitudes of the King. The result was a virtual tug-of-war between Carol’s parents and the King and Queen, which left him, according to one historian, “both spoiled and deprived of love.”

Despite the King’s efforts to raise Carol in his own militaristic image, the young prince soon found that he preferred to spend his time chasing women and partying with his friends. By the time he was 19, he had already fathered two illegitimate children. In 1913, the King had him commissioned in the Prussian Guards, in hopes of curbing his hedonistic lifestyle. He later took his seat in the Romanian Senate upon reaching his maturity.

Carol and Zizi Lambrino, c1919. source: Wikipedia

On August 31, 1918, Carol married Joanna “Zizi” Lambrino, the daughter of a Romanian general, at the Cathedral Church of Odessa, Ukraine. The marriage had not been sanctioned by the King, nor was it welcomed by the Romanian people. The marriage was annulled seven months later, by the couple continued to live together, and the following year, in January 1920, they had a son – Mircea Gregor Carol Lambrino (later known as Prince Mircea Grigore Carol of Romania).

Carol and Helen, 1921. source: Wikipedia

The following year, on March 10, 1921, Carol married his second-cousin, Princess Helen of Greece, the daughter of King Constantine I of the Hellenes and Princess Sophie of Prussia. The had one son:

Arranged to help form an alliance between Romania and Greece, the marriage was never a happy one, and the two of them were horribly mismatched. Helen was very aristocratic and refined, while Carol continued his partying ways and indulged in numerous affairs. In 1925, he began a relationship with Elena “Magda” Lupescu. She was the daughter of Jewish parents, but had been raised Roman Catholic, as her mother had converted in her youth. (Her father had converted to Orthodoxy.) Magda had married a Romanian army officer in 1919, but was later divorced. It is speculated that she was still married when she first met Carol in 1923, but this is uncertain. Other sources state her divorce took place in 1920.

Carol made no efforts to hide his affair, and it quickly caused great controversy in Romania. Knowing that the Romanian constitution barred him from marrying her, on December 28,1925, Carol renounced his rights to the Romanian throne. Once ratified by the parliament, this left his son, Mihai, as heir-apparent.

On July 20, 1927, King Ferdinand died, and Mihai became King of Romania at just six years old. Several months later, Carol asked Helen for a divorce. After initially refusing, she was later advised to agree and their marriage was formally dissolved on June 21, 1928.

In early June 1930, Carol quietly returned to Romania to negotiate with the Prime Minister for his return to the throne. On June 7th, following a coup, Carol’s early renunciation was voided, and he was restored as King of Romania, replacing his young son. Despite taking an oath to uphold the 1923 Constitution, King Carol had no intention of doing so. From the beginning, he attempted to increase his powers, with the intent of establishing a dictatorship. In a reign riddled with political in-fighting, Carol often pitted the political parties against each other, for his own gains.

After discovering a plan to bring the anti-Semitic party into power, King Carol suspended the constitution on February 10, 1938, proclaiming martial law and suspending civil liberties. He dismissed the Prime Minister and appointed the head of the Romanian Orthodox Church as his replacement. With the fear of impending war, King Carol tried to play both sides of the fence. He appealed to Britain for help, offering to place Romania under their economic influence, while also visiting Hitler in Germany, attempting to improve relations between the two countries. At the onset of war, Carol declared neutrality, violating both the 1921 treaty with Poland and the 1926 treaty with France. It wasn’t until May 1940, seeing that France was losing the battle, that Carol aligned with the Axis powers.

The following month, he was forced to cede several regions to the Soviet Union, knowing that the Romanian forces were no match for the Red Army. Further land was lost in August 1940, as a result of the Second Vienna Award. With no support from the Romanian people, and the Romanian forces refusing to follow his orders, King Carol II was forced to abdicate on September 6, 1940 in favor of his son, Mihai.

Carol went into exile, settling in Mexico with Magda Lupescu. They bought a home in Mexico City, where he attempted to organize a movement to overthrow General Antonescu. Several attempts to regain the throne failed, as he had no political support.

Carol and Magda Lupesco. source: Wikipedia

Carol and Magda moved to Brazil in 1944, where they married on June 3, 1947. They soon moved to Estoril, Portugal, where he would live in exile for the remainder of his life. King Carol II died suddenly of a heart attack on April 4, 1953 in Estoril. His remains were placed in the Royal Pantheon of the House of Braganza, at the Monastery of São Vicente de Fora in Lisbon. He was joined by his wife Magda after her death 24 years later. In 2003, their remains were brought back to Romania and buried in a chapel outside the Curtea de Argeş Monastery. His son, King Mihai, who had not seen his father since 1940, did not attend.

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Elisabeth of Wied, Queen of Romania

by Scott Mehl

source: Wikipedia

Princess Elisabeth of Wied, Queen of Romania

Queen Elisabeth of Romania was the wife of Romania’s first king, Carol I. She was born Princess Pauline Elisabeth Ottilie Luise of Wied on December 29,1843 at Schloss Monrepos in Neuwied, Germany. Her parents were Hermann, Prince of Wied and Princess Marie of Nassau, and she had two younger brothers:

Through her mother, Elisabeth’s first cousins included Grand Duke Guillaume IV of Luxembourg, Queen Emma of the Netherlands, Princess Helena, Duchess of Albany, and King Gustaf V of Sweden.

As a child, Elisabeth was educated at home by tutors, including German linguist Georg Sauerwein and famed pianist Clara Schumann. Elisabeth was an avid student, and for some time wanted to become a teacher. Her love of music and the arts – particularly writing – would shape the woman she would become as an adult. It was even during her early years studying with Sauerwein that her pseudonym ‘Carmen Sylva’ was born.

Elisabeth and Carol, 1869. source: Wikipedia

In the late 1850s, Elisabeth was considered as a prospective bride of the future King Edward VII of the United Kingdom, but he was not interested. In 1861, she first met her future husband, Prince Karl of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. Several years later, he was later elected Ruling Prince of the United Principalities of Romania, taking the name Prince Carol I. After meeting again in 1869 when Carol was touring Europe in search of a bride, the couple was married in Neuwied on November 15, 1869. They had one daughter – Maria – born in September 1870. Maria died of scarlet fever in 1874, and Elisabeth never fully recovered from the loss of her only child.

Elisabeth with her husband and daughter, 1873. source: Wikipedia

Soon the country was embroiled in the Russo-Turkish War, and Elisabeth worked tirelessly to care for the wounded, arranging for hospitals, ambulance services, and medicine. She later went on to establish the Queen Elisabeth Society which provided free medical care for the needy, and the Queen Elisabeth Blind Asylum in 1909, for the visually impaired. In addition, she became an ambassador of sorts, promoting Romanian culture and arts throughout the country and Europe. At a time when traditional Romanian costume was often considered ‘peasants garments’, Elisabeth and her ladies-in-waiting often dressed in the outfits for public appearances. She arranged for exhibits of Romanian crafts at the Universal Exhibitions in Paris in 1867,1889 and 1900, as well as holding an exhibit – Women in the Arts and Crafts – in Berlin in 1912. When Romania was not quite part of the normal ‘tourist circuit’, Elisabeth promoted the country and would even receive travelers on the Orient Express when they would stop in Sinaia.

A relentless patron of the arts, she often hosted writers, composers, and musicians, and helped promote their works. In later years, she had a concert hall built near Peleș Castle specifically for George Enescu, the famed Romanian musician. But her true passion was writing. Under the pseudonym Carmen Sylva, she wrote hundreds of poems, plays, novels, short stories and essays, and thanks to her fluency in several languages, published numerous translations of other works.

Shortly after becoming Queen of Romania in 1881, Elisabeth was embroiled in controversy. Having no children, King Carol had adopted his nephew, the future King Ferdinand, as his heir. Ferdinand soon became involved with one of Elisabeth’s ladies-in-waiting, Elena Văcărescu. The Queen encouraged the relationship, despite the fact that a marriage would be forbidden under the Romanian constitution which stated that the heir was not permitted to marry a Romanian citizen. The scandal resulted in Elena, Ferdinand and Queen Elisabeth all being sent out of the country. The Queen returned for some time to Neuwied, while Ferdinand was sent on a tour of Europe to find an appropriate wife.

Dowager Queen Elisabeth, 1915. source: Wikipedia/Bulgarian Archives State Agency

In her later years, Elisabeth continued to support and promote the arts and continued with her writing. She died on March 2, 1916, and is buried beside her husband at the Cathedral of the Curtea de Argeş Monastery.

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King Mihai of Romania diagnosed with cancer

It has been announced today, March 2, 2016, that King Mihai of Romania has been diagnosed with cancer.  According to a statement from the Romanian Royal Council, the 94-year old King Mihai has recently undergone surgery, and was diagnosed with chronic leukemia and metastatic epidermoid carcinoma.

The King is withdrawing from public life to undergo treatment.  His eldest daughter, Crown Princess Margareta, will assume his public duties.

Gandul: Seriously ill, Michael retires from public life (in Romanian)
Daily Mail/AP: Former Romanian King Michael has been diagnosed with cancer
Royal Family of Romania: Report on the health of King Michael I, 4 March 2016

Princess Elisabeta of Romania, Queen of the Hellenes

by Scott Mehl

source: Wikipedia

Princess Elisabeta of Romania, Queen of the Hellenes

Princess Elisabeta of Romania was the wife of King George II of the Hellenes from 1921 until 1935. She was born Elisabeta Charlotte Josephine Alexandra Victoria on October 12, 1894 at Peleş Castle in Romania, eldest daughter of King Ferdinand I of Romania and Princess Marie of Edinburgh. Elisabeta had five siblings:

Elisabeta on her mother’s lap, with her brother, Carol, c1895. source: Wikipedia

As a child, she was raised by her great-aunt (and namesake) Queen Elisabeth, the wife of King Carol I. As a child she learned to play the piano and violin and quickly developed a talent for drawing and painting. Educated privately at home, she quickly learned to speak several languages and furthered her skills in music and art. She also began her charitable work at a young age. Along with her sisters, Elisabeta often joined their mother in her nursing work during World War I. And after the war, she spent a year studying art and music in Paris.

Queen Marie, Princess Elisabeta and Princess Maria in Paris, 1919. source: Wikipedia

Elisabeta first met her future husband in 1911, when the Greek Royal Family had been invited to visit the Romanian Royal Family. Prince George (later King George II) was the son of King Constantine I of the Hellenes and Princess Sophie of Prussia. He and Elisabeta were second-cousins through their mothers. During the visit, George proposed but Elisabeta declined. He proposed again in 1914 after the Balkan Wars, but she again turned him down. The two, however, maintained contact and George’s luck would soon improve. In early 1920, while traveling from France with her mother and sisters, they stopped in Switzerland where the Greek Royal Family were living in exile. George proposed again, and this time, she accepted. The engagement was announced in October 1920 and they married on February 27, 1921, in Bucharest. By the time of the wedding, George’s father had been restored to the Greek throne. Elisabeta became Crown Princess of Greece and Duchess of Sparta. A week after their return to Greece, a second wedding took place in Athens. Elisabeta’s brother, Carol, married George’s sister, Princess Helen of Greece. Neither marriage would prove to be a happy one.

Elisabeta and George, 1921. source: Wikipedia

The Crown Princess found her new life in Greece to be very difficult. She didn’t speak the language and often felt snubbed by many in her husband’s family. Not having their own home, the couple lived with King Constantine and Queen Sophia. Trying to make the best of the situation, Elisabeta quickly set out to redecorate their apartments, but soon found that there was little money to do so. The Greek Royal Family did not have the same financial resources to which she was accustomed, and her own dowry was not of much help. She began working with the Red Cross and indulging in her love of painting and gardening. She also worked hard to learn the Greek language in hopes that it would help her relationships with her new family. Soon she found herself pregnant, but suffered a miscarriage and then fell ill with typhoid. Having recovered, she returned to Romania in the fall of 1922 to attend her parents’ coronation. While there, she learned that her father-in-law had abdicated in favor of her husband. She was now Queen of the Hellenes.

Days after her parents’ coronation, she returned to Greece. However, she shunned the typical duties expected of a Consort, preferring to spend time at Tatoi Palace where she could paint and play the piano and spend hours working in the gardens she had designed there. Soon, it became likely that the Greek monarchy would be eliminated in favor of a Republic. Under the guise of an official visit to Romania, Elisabeta and her husband went into exile on December 19, 1923. They settled briefly at Cotroceni Palace before taking the lease on a small villa in Bucharest. Just months later, on March 25, 1924, King George II was formally deposed.

Soon, the couple began to grow apart. Elisabeta was happy to be back in her homeland, while George felt stifled at the Romanian court. He began spending more time abroad, and by the early 1930s, was living permanently in London. Both of them had begun affairs, and in 1935, Elisabeta filed for divorce in Bucharest, citing desertion as the grounds for divorce. The divorce was issued on July 6, 1935, and her former husband found out when he read about it in the newspaper. He had never been made aware of the proceedings.

Elisabeta then petitioned to have her Romanian citizenship restored (she had relinquished it upon her marriage), and through very shrewd investments, as well as the booming Romanian economy, managed to become financially well-off. In March of that year, she had purchased Banloc – a commune in Western Romania, made up of several villages – where she lived at Banloc Castle. And in Bucharest, the Elisabeta Palace was built for her in the mid-1390s. She also had a home in the village of Copăceni, outside of Bucharest. She devoted much of her time to charity, working with many organizations to help children and those who were ill. At her own expense, she established a hospital and children’s home in Bucharest.

By 1944, she had given up the Elisabeta Palace to her nephew, King Mihai, who moved his court there following the bombing of the Royal Palace in Bucharest. She, instead, spent her time at Banloc and Copăceni. It was there, on December 30, 1947, that King Mihai was forced to abdicate. Just days later, on January 4, 1948, the royal train carrying King Mihai, Queen Mother Helen and Princess Ileana left Bucharest and traveled to Banloc, where Elisabeta joined them on their journey out of Romania. After staying briefly in Sigmaringen, Germany, and in Zurich, she eventually settled in Cannes, France where she leased an apartment and later taught piano lessons.

Princess Elisabeta of Romania, Queen of Greece, died in Cannes on November 15, 1956. She is buried at the Hedinger Church in Sigmaringen.

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King Ferdinand of Romania

by Scott Mehl

source: Wikipedia

King Ferdinand I of Romania

King Ferdinand of Romania was born Prince Ferdinand Viktor Albert Meinrad of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, a Roman Catholic branch of the House of Hohenzollern. He was born on August 24, 1865 in Sigmaringen, the second of three sons of Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen and Infanta Antonia of Portugal. He later married Princess Marie of Edinburgh, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria.

Following his primary and secondary studies in Dusseldorf, he attended the Military School in Kassel, graduating in 1887 with the rank of Lieutenant. He then attended the University of Leipzig and the School of Political Science and Economics in Tübingen until early 1889. During his schooling, he shows exceptional skill as a linguist, becoming fluent in French, English, and Russian. Through a tutor sent by his uncle, he also learned Romanian and studied the literature, history, and geography of his future homeland.

Ferdinand (left) with his uncle, King Carol I, and his son, the future Carol II. source: Wikipedia

In 1866, his uncle, Prince Karl of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, had become elected Ruling Prince of the Romanian United Principalities, and in 1881 was proclaimed King Carol I of Romania. King Carol and his wife, Princess Elisabeth of Wied, had only one daughter who died at the age of three. With no sons to inherit the throne, the succession passed to his younger brother, Leopold – Ferdinand’s father. Leopold renounced his rights in 1880, as did his eldest son in 1886. Ferdinand became heir-presumptive to the Romanian throne. He was formally recognized by the Romanian government as Crown Prince in 1889. As part of the agreement, he was permitted to retain his Catholic faith, but agreed that any children would be raised in the Orthodox church.

After arriving in Romania in 1889, Ferdinand (‘Nando’ as he was known in the family) soon became involved with the Romanian writer, and friend of Queen Elisabeth, Elena Văcărescu. This caused a scandal, not only because of her unequal rank, but because the Romanian constitution banned Ferdinand from marrying a Romanian. In 1891, the relationship ended, the young woman was exiled to France, and The Queen, who had encouraged the romance, was also sent away for several years. The King then sent Ferdinand on a tour of Europe, with the intention of finding a suitable bride.

 

On January 10, 1893, at Sigmaringen Castle, Ferdinand married his third cousin, Princess Marie of Edinburgh, daughter of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh (and later Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha) and Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia. Following the civil ceremony held at the castle, a Catholic ceremony was held in the city’s cathedral, and then an Anglican ceremony was held at the palace. The couple officially had six children (the two youngest are believed to have been fathered by Marie’s lover but were formally acknowledged by Ferdinand as his own):

Ferdinand and Marie overseeing the crossing of the Tisza River, August 1919. source: Wikipedia

October 10, 1914, Ferdinand became King of Romania upon the death of his uncle. Already in the early stages of World War I, Ferdinand maintained Romania’s neutrality until finally entering the war, on the side of the Allied Powers, in August 1916. During the war, Ferdinand and his wife traveled extensively to support the troops and boost morale amongst the Romanian people. By the end of the war, through Ferdinand’s leadership, the Kingdom of Romania had grown to include the regions of Bessarabia, Bukovina, and Transylvania.

 

Following World War I and the Hungarian-Romanian War of 1919, King Ferdinand and Queen Marie were finally crowned in an elaborate ceremony held in Alba Iulia, in Transylvania, on October 15, 1922. The following years were focused on rebuilding the country and returning it the once-flourishing region it had been.

 

King Ferdinand died of intestinal cancer on July 20, 1927 at Peleș Castle, in Sinaia. He is buried at the Curtea de Argeş Cathedral, Curtea de Argeş, Romania. As his elder son Carol had renounced his rights to the throne, Ferdinand was succeeded by his five-year-old grandson, King Mihai. Carol would later return and reclaim the throne in 1930, only to abdicate again in 1940.

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Princess Marie of Edinburgh, Queen of Romania

by Scott Mehl

source: Wikipedia

Princess Marie of Edinburgh, Queen of Romania

Queen Marie of Romania was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, and perhaps one of the most polarizing royals of her time. She was born Princess Marie Alexandra Victoria of Edinburgh on October 29, 1875 at Eastwell Park, Kent. Her parents were Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh (later Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha), and Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia. Through her mother, she was also a granddaughter of Tsar Alexander II.

Marie had four siblings:

Missy, as she was known in the family, was christened on December 15, 1875 at Windsor Castle, with the following godparents:

Growing up primarily at Eastwell Park and Clarence House, the family also spent some time living in Malta where her father was stationed several times, most recently from 1886-1889. After Malta, they took up residence in Coburg, where her father had become heir-presumptive to his childless uncle, the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Missy’s mother quickly worked to make her daughters more ‘German’ than ‘British’, and had them confirmed in the Lutheran Church instead of the Anglican church in which they had been raised.

Missy had always been very close with her cousin, the future King George V. He had been a frequent guest while the family lived in Malta, and the two considered marriage. While Queen Victoria and both of their fathers were very supportive of the match, their mothers were not. The Princess of Wales disliked all things German, still reeling over the Schleswig-Holstein issue. And the Duchess of Edinburgh disliked all things British. She did not want her daughter to remain British and was also against the marriage of first cousins, which was forbidden in her Orthodox faith. So when George did propose, Marie was obliged to refuse. The two remained devoted to each other for the rest of their lives.

 

Instead, Marie was soon engaged to the Crown Prince of Romania. Born Prince Ferdinand of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, he was the heir-presumptive to his uncle, King Carol I of Romania. After gaining the approval of Queen Victoria, Marie and Ferdinand were married on January 10, 1893 at Sigmaringen Castle. Following the civil ceremony, both Catholic and Protestant ceremonies were held due to their different religions. The couple had six children:

Marie found her new life quite challenging. Being very free-spirited, she found the strict Romanian court to be stifling. Her husband’s uncle, King Carol I, controlled every aspect of the couple’s lives. Her relationship with Ferdinand was also a struggle, as the two tried to settle into a content relationship. She later wrote to her husband that “it is such a shame that we had to waste so many years of our youth just to learn how to live together!”

With a growing family and a stifled existence in the Romanian court, Marie is alleged to have embarked on several affairs, possibly even giving birth to a child by one of her reported lovers. It is also speculated that several of her younger children were from another man, but they were recognized and acknowledged by Ferdinand as his own.

Just after the beginning of World War I, King Carol I died and Ferdinand ascended the Romanian throne. Drawn quickly into the war, the new Queen Marie threw herself into her charitable work, rallying support for the war effort, and serving tirelessly as a nurse. In 1919, after the war, she represented Romania at the Paris Peace Conference, replacing the Romanian delegation which had left due to extreme conflict with the French prime minister. The Queen is often credited with smoothing the situation and helping to bring about Romania’s huge gains at the end of the conference.

In 1922, a huge coronation ceremony was held for Ferdinand and Marie in Alba Iulia. An Orthodox cathedral was built there (known as the Coronation Cathedral) and the two were crowned in an elaborate ceremony full of pomp and pageantry. A few years later, Marie converted to the Orthodox faith, an act which further endeared her to the Romanian people.

 

The next years saw The Queen travel extensively. Visits to Britain and the United States brought huge crowds out to see the famous Queen of Romania, and she didn’t disappoint them. While in the United States in 1926 with two of her children, Queen Marie met with President Calvin Coolidge and his wife. She also traveled to Washington State, where she presided at the dedication of The Maryhill Museum, being opened by her friend, Samuel Hill. She later donated many possessions to the museum, which are still on display today. (Read more about Queen Marie and The Maryhill Museum HERE.)

Soon after her return to Romania, King Ferdinand died on July 20, 1927. As their son Carol had previously renounced his right to the throne, it was Marie’s grandson, Mihai, who succeeded Ferdinand. Mihai was just 5 years old, and a Regency Council was established, led by Marie’s younger son, Prince Nicholas. Three years later, Carol would return and reclaim the throne. (He would later abdicate in 1940, returning Mihai to the throne.)

 

In January 1928, after several months in seclusion following her husband’s death, Queen Marie returned to public life. In the above photo, she is seen with her daughters Ileana and Elisabeth at a public function in Bucharest. Following her son Carol reclaiming the throne in 1930, Queen Marie found herself more on the fringes of the Romanian monarchy. She spent her remaining years enjoying the company of her grandchildren and enjoying her homes at Bran Castle and Balchik Palace. Throughout the years, she had written her memoirs, which were published in several volumes.

portrait of Queen Marie by Philip de László, 1936. source: Wikipedia

Queen Marie of Romania died on July 18, 1938 at Pelişor Castle in the presence of her son Carol, daughter Elisabeth, and grandson Mihai. Her body lay in state for three days at Cotroceni Palace before she was buried at the Curtea de Argeş Cathedral, Curtea de Argeş, Romania. At her request, her heart was interred in the Stella Maris chapel at her beloved Balchik Palace. After Balchik became part of Bulgaria, Queen Marie’s heart was moved to a chapel at Bran Castle by her daughter, Ileana.  Her heart was moved to the National History Museum when the chapel at Bran Castle was desecrated by the Communists.  Finally, in 2015, Queen Marie’s heart was brought to its final resting place, at Pelişor Castle, where it was placed on display in the room where Marie died.

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