Thursday, April 4, 2013

Carol II dead at 59

April 4, 1953

Former King Carol II of Romania is dead.  He succumbed earlier today of a heart attack at his home in Estoril, Portugal, reports Reuters.  He was 59 years old.

His third wife, Princess Elena, the former Elena Lupescu, was at his bedside when he died.

The former king's marshal, Ernest Urdareanu, announced the death.  He said the former King had felt "well until just before midnight, when he was suddenly taken ill."  He died about an hour later.

Carol II had lived in Estoril, "a fashionable seaside resort," about 15 miles from Lisbon, since October 1947.

The king, who was known as the "playboy monarch," had lived in exile since 1940, when he was forced to abdicate in "favor of son, by the pro-German dictator Ion Antonescu."

Only seven years later, King Michael lost his throne, and now lives in exile in Switzerland.

Carol was the first member of royal family to be born on Romanian soil.  He was the first child of King Ferdinand and Queen Marie, who was the daughter of the Duke of Edinburgh, and a granddaughter of Queen Victoria.

When Carol was born on October 16, 1893,  one hundred and one shots were fired in Sinaia were fired to announce his birth.  At the time of his birth, Carol was second in line to the throne after his father, who was the heir apparent to his uncle, King Carol I.

Although he served in Romanian army during the first world war, he "showed little interest in military affairs."

On Sept 2, 1918,  he renounced his rights to the throne, and crossed the border into German-occupied Odessa and married a Romanian commoner, Zizi Lambrino.  The marriage was annulled before Zizi gave birth to their son, Mircea.

all images from the Marlene A. Eilers Koenig collection
His second marriage took place on March 10, 1921, in Athens, where he married his second cousin,  Princess Helen, eldest daughter of King Constantine I and Queen Sophie, sister of Kaiser Wilhelm II.   [Two months later, Helen's eldest brother, King George II, married Carol's sister, Elizabeth.]

On October 25, 1921, Crown Princess Helen gave birth to the couple's only son, Michael.  

The marriage was already in trouble.  The couple soon separated, and a divorce was granted in 1928.

For the second time, Carol ceased to be the heir to the throne.  His reputation as a playboy was largely due to his affair with a Romanian commoner, Elena Wolff, who was "better known as Magda Lupescu."

The met in the early 1920s, and Carol was soon smitten with Mrs. Lupescu, "much to the chagrin of his father."

Carol and Elena exiled themselves to France, where Carol again renounced his rights to the throne.  His father died in 1927, and it was Carol's son, Michael, a minor, who became the new king.

Carol was thwarted in his attempt to return home and claim his throne.   It was not until 1930, when Carol "secretly left Paris by train for Munich" where he boarded a private plane for Bucharest.  He arrived on the next evening at 9:30 p.m.  No one was at the airport to meet him so he went straight to the Army barracks, and was "escorted" to Cotroceni palace, where his younger brother, Prince Nicholas, a member of the regency, received him "with great joy."

The Romanian government, already beset by the death of the former Prime Minister, Ion Bratianu, a foe of Carol's, and the growing economic crisis, was surprised by Carol's return. 

The government offered Carol a place in the Regency, but he wanted the throne.  The Regency was abolished on June 8, and Carol took the oath as the new king of Romania.  His eight-year-old son, Michael, was named as Crown Prince.

Elena Lupescu soon joined him in Bucharest.  He did met with his former wife, Princess Helen, who later declared that there would be no reconciliation.  "I can forgive, but never forget the wrongs he did to me and my child."

King Carol II's reign suffered numerous problems, including the difficulty of "forming a new Government."  He interfered with "the business of the Premier."

His reign was described as "chaotic," and he grew increasingly unpopular, moving toward a "dictatorial tendency," as the country's economic situation worsened.

Martial law was declared, and Carol expelled his brother, Prince Nicholas, from the country.  This action brought more "bad feeling and open opposition of the Iron Guards," who were determined to force the King to send Mrs. Lupescu into exile.

After the start of the second World War, opposition to the King intensified, and he was forced to abdicate on September 6, 1940.  His son, Michael, became king for the second time.

The king and his mistress fled first to Spain, where they were "interned at Hitler's request."  Six months later, they escaped to Portugal, and then traveled to Cuba and Mexico.  The former king tried to enter the United States, but was denied permission.  He and Elena settled in Rio de Janeiro.  When Mrs. Lupescu became "gravely ill," they married in a "dramatic death bed ceremony permissible under Brazilian law."

The new Princess Elena recovered, and two years later, in 1949, they married ina  religious ceremony in Portugal.

King Michael and his wife, Anne, now live in Switzerland.  On February 128, the Queen gave birth to a third daughter.  Former Queen Helen lives in Florence, Italy.

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