When Princess Ileana accompanied her mother, Queen Marie, on a trip to the USA in 1926, she was the subject of much "romantic gossip." When she attended a dance at West Point, she was linked to a cadet, who invited her to attend a luncheon in Tuxedo, New York. (Would you believe that cadet eventually moved to Alexandria, VA, and I was introduced to him at a Republican party event -- when I used to be active in local GOP politics.)
Queen Marie was an inveterate matchmaker, and managed to arrange marriages for three of her children: Carol and Elisabetha to Helen of Greece and her brother, King George II and Marie to Alexander I of Serbia. None of these marriages were successful or happy. The first two marriages ended in divorce, and an assassin's bullet ended Alexander's life in 1934.
After Marie and Ileana returned to Roumania, the queen announced that Ileana would not have objected to a marriage with an American, a "marriage of love." According to the queen, Ileana had received nine proposals during her stay in the United. States.
A royal marriage was more likely. After press reports linked Ileana with the Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VIII was quoted as saying: She's a jolly little kid and a great sport."
Queen Marie, a British princess by birth, would have considered a British marriage for Ileana as a major coup for the family. The princess was linked to the King Boris III of Bulgaria, Crown Prince Umberto of Italy, Prince Heinrich of Schaumburg-Lippe, and the Prince of the Asturias. It was said that the Princess truly loved Alfonso (whose mother, Ena, was Queen Marie's first cousin), but his hemophilia put a damper on the relationship.
In January 1930, Ileana became engaged to Count Alexander von Hochberg. The count, who was known as Lexel, was one of three sons of the British-born Princess Daisy of Pless, who was one of Queen Marie's best friends. The wedding was scheduled for mid-February, but soon the papers were filled with reports that the engagement would soon be broken, and by early March, the official announcement was made: there would be no wedding between Ileana and Lexel. The heart-broken princess was taken to Egypt by her mother, where Queen Marie told her why the marriage could not take place. Lexel was gay, and when he was sixteen, he had been involved in a homosexual scandal. In May 1930, Ileana met the count for one last time, and they would never meet again.
But this was in all in the past now. A year had passed, and Ileana was now the bride-to-be of an impecunious archduke of Austria, a member of the Tuscan branch, a pilot with no real career plans -- and little money in the bank. It was hardly the grand marriage that Marie had wanted for her daughter.
More than ten thousand tourists poured into Sinaia to witness the festivities.
In the evening, Ileana, who wore a white and gold lace gown, was "cheered wildly" when she came out on the balcony. She was accompanied by other members of the Roumanian royal family. She responded to the crowd's cheers "Love live Ileana, child of the people," with a smile and a wave.