Friday, July 25, 2008

Ileana and Anton's wedding - July 26, 1931

The marriage between Princess Ileana of Roumania and Archduke Anton of Austria was a marriage encouraged and arranged by Ileana's brother, King Carol II.

As siblings is a largely dysfunctional family, Carol and Ileana were close. This changed with Ileana sided with her mother and Helen against Carol, and Carol turned against his sister. He wrote to his cousin, Friedel (the Prince of Hohenzollern), describing Ileana as "the lowest conniver of the entire family." He removed her from her positions as head of the Roumanian YMCA and the Girl Guides. He wanted, as he wrote to cousin, to remove "the aching thorn" from his life.

Thus, he took on the mantle of finding a husband for Ileana. In 1929, during a visit to Spain, the Prince of the Asturias had asked Ileana to marry him, but she declined due to the hemophilia. She had fallen in love with the Hereditary Grand Duke Georg of Donatus of Hesse and by Rhine, whose father, Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig, was Queen Marie's first cousin. Don was the elder of two sons of Ernie's second marriage to Eleonore of Solms-Hohensolms-Lich. His first marriage to Victoria Melita of Edinburgh -- Queen Marie's sister -- had ended in an acrimonious divorce thirty years earlier.

Don made it clear to Ileana that he did not love her, and there would be no marriage between the Hessian prince and the Roumanian princess.
Following the debacle of the Hochberg engagement, King Carol made his move. He knew that Ileana had met Anton in Barcelona in 1929, where he and family lived in limited circumstances. He earned a salary by pumping gas. Hardly the sort of prince that Queen Marie sought for her favorite daughter. Carol, however, thought that Anton was a "very nice, energetic and serious young man." Queen Marie was, on the other hand, horrified by Carol's machinations. She tried to adapt to the situation, writing to a friend, describing Anton as "big, solid, trustworthy, he has not a penny except what he earns with his own hand."
More than 300 guests attended the wedding that took place at Sinaia, where the streets were "flagged and flower-decked." Although Ileana had not chosen to convert to the Roman Catholic faith, she and Anton were married in a Roman Catholic service. The Vatican would not permit the couple to also have an Orthodox service, and Ileana had agreed to raise all their children as Roman Catholics.

The couple were first marriage in a civil ceremony, where Ileana declared that she intended to remain a Roumanian citizen.

When the priest asked Ileana whether she was willing to take Anton as her husband, the princess turned to her brother, King Carol for approval. He provided his assent with a bow of his head. Ileana then said to the priest: "Oui, monsieur."
The wedding ceremony was full of emotion for the princess and for her mother, as both knew that Ileana would have to live outside Romania as per Carol's wishes. This was difficult for the princess as the priest's homily included references to "the many ties that bound" Ileana to Romania. She was in tears.
When the ceremony was over, King Carol embraced his sister with several kisses. Now that Ileana was the wife of an Austrian archduke -- and about to leave the country -- King Carol felt a bit relieved. Ileana turned to face her mother, whose face was streaked with tears. Ileana "dropped impulsively to her knees and kissed the hands of the sobbing queen mother."

The bride wore a "splendid white crepe de chine with silver embroidery" wedding gown, and her long white golden-embroidered train was carried by two Boy Scouts and two Girl Scouts. Upon her head was a diamond tiara. Before the religious wedding, Anton and Ileana agreed to meet the press for a brief interview. Ileana, apparently fraught with nerves, was unable to answer any questions when the microphone was placed before her.

The wedding guests included members of the Roumania royal family, which included the bride's two sisters, Queen Elizabeth of the Hellenes and Queen Marie of Yugoslavia, and Crown Prince Michael. The bride's maternal aunts, Grand Duchess Victoria Melita, with her daughter, Kira, the Princess of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, and Princess Beatrice and her husband also attended along with the Prince and Princess of Hohenzollern, the Prince of Leiningen and various members of Archduke Anton's family.

The Kings of the Hellenes and Yugoslavia did not attend, however. Nor did Princess Helen -- Michael's mother -- who left the country a week earlier. Ileana and Anton were among the members of the family who accompanied Helen to the airport on July 17, to say goodbye. It was said that Helen left the country to avoid embarrassment at not being able to attend Ileana's wedding.

The Princess and her husband received numerous wedding gifts including an airplane from King Carol and a silver service from Queen Marie.


CourtneyL said...

Great blog, Marlene. I had never seen the 3rd photo before (of the couple with some family members). Do you know how Ileana came to know and fall in love with Don given the bad history between the family's due to Victoria Melita's divorce?

Svetabel said...

I've not seen the 1st picture with the ceremony. Carol II looks almost demonically gazing at Ileana and Anton.

Anonymous said...


I love this blog - I particularly like to read about the more obscure branches and cadet lines and these odd snippets you pick up on! Well done - on my favourites now.
BTW - I have that print which I will send Monday - it's very flimsy tho.


Marlene Eilers Koenig said...


John said...

I loved how in those old days (well, I guess even up to the wedding of Pss Elizabeth and The DoE) that royal ladies wore their orders even with daytime dress. So regal! And also, the tinsel looking streamers from The Archduchess' headpiece seems SO Queen Marie-influenced! Great postcards, thanks for posting!

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

Thanks so much, John!

Denis said...

This is excellent stuff.....well done, very well done!

Kathleen Leonard said...

Love it all!