Wednesday, June 9, 2010

80th Anniversary of Carol II's proclamation as King

June 8 marked the 80th anniversary of the proclamation of Carol II as King of the Romanians. In 1925, it had been discovered that Carol was having an affair with Elena "Magda" Lupescu, a Romanian commoner. This hastened the collapse of Carol's marriage to Princess Helen of Greece and deeply upset his parents, King Ferdinand I and Queen Marie. Because of the scandal that ensued, and due to a Romanian law that forbade members of the royal family from marrying Romanian citizens, Carol was obliged to renounce his claim to the throne and go into exile.

Following Carol's renunciation, King Ferdinand declared Carol and Helen's son Prince Michael as heir to the throne. When Ferdinand I died in 1927, five-year-old Michael ascended the throne, albeit under the regency of his uncle, Prince Nicholas.

On June 7, 1930, Carol unexpectedly returned to Romania. He reversed his renunciation and proclaimed himself King of the Romanians. Michael was reverted back to Crown Prince, but the situation with his mother was far more difficult. Princess Helen had been deeply humiliated by Carol's affair and eventual abandonment of his country, their marriage and their son. The marriage had been dissolved by the Romanian supreme court in 1928, but upon Carol's return the prime minister declared that by right, upon Carol's ascension as king, Helen rightfully became Her Majesty The Queen of the Romanians. Carol refused to allow this title for his wife and on the official decree he scribbled out the title "Queen of the Romanians" and instead declared she should be titled as Her Majesty Helen.

The government expressed concern that the divorce of 1928 should be reversed, but Carol refused to allow this. When Helen also agreed that their divorce should be annulled, he had her placed under virtual house arrest and kept soldiers at her doors. A humiliated Helen eventually left Romania and spent the next years in Florence, where her mother, Queen Sophie of Greece, had purchased a private villa.

Carol II's reign is extremely controversial among Romanian historians. He reigned virtually as a dictator for the next ten years. Carol II was ousted from his throne by General Antonescu, going into exile in Portugal with his mistress, Magda Lupescu.

His son Michael ascended the throne for a second time following his father's abdication, but his reign would last until 1947, when he was ousted by a Communist coup. Michael refused to ever meet his father again. Carol II died in Portugal in 1953.

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