Friday, February 21, 2020

New books from Romania

I was in Romania in January as a guest of HM Margareta, Custodian of the Throne, and HRH Prince Radu, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Her Majesty's first visit to Romania.

I did a bit sightseeing as well as buy a few books at the Humanitas bookstore on Calea Victoriei, a few blocks from my hotel.  The shop has an excellent section of books on the Romanian Royal family.  I wish I had room in my suitcase for more books, but I was looking for three books in particular, and then added one more to the pile.

All of the books are in Romanian.  All are illustrated.  None of the books will be translated into English.

Two of the books are by Diana Mandache, who has made Romanian royal history her life's work.

Mignon Principesa Romaniei, Regina Iugoslaviei (Curtea Veche) is a fabulous book of photographs of Princess Marie (1899-1961), the third daughter of King Ferdinand and Queen Marie, who in 1922 married King Alexander of Yugoslavia.

So many previously unpublished photos of Mignon, including a rather sweet photo of Mignon with her older sister, Elisabeta, and their first cousin, Princess Elisabeth of Hesse and by Rhine, taken at Heiligenberg in 1901.  The photographs are what make this book perfect for non-Romanian readers. 

We can experience Mignon's life from her birth in Gotha to her death in England through photographs.   After her husband was assassinated in Marseilles in 1934,  Queen Marie spent most of the rest of her life in England.

Diana is also the author of Bijuteriile Reginei Maria (Corint), a richly illustrated study of Queen Marie's jewels.  Royal jewelry enthusiasts will appreciate this book because of the photographs and the detailed sketches of rings, bracelets, earrings, necklaces, and tiaras.   Queen Marie preferred bold jewels, exquisite pieces of jewelry, rather than subtle, simple pieces preferred by other royal women.

Several pieces in Marie's collection came from her mother, Grand Duchess Marie Alexandrovna of Russia.

Crăciunul regal (Royal Christmas) was published in 2013 but remains in print.   This book, which was written by then Princess Margareta and Prince Radu, focuses on Romanian royal Christmas from Carol I and Elisabeth through King Michael and his family, in Romania, England, Switzerland, Italy and finally, back in Romania.   The Christmas holidays are spent at Săvârșin, in Arad county, which King Michael had purchased in the mid-1940s and confiscated after he was forced into exile.  The property was restored to the king in 2000 and is now owned by his daughter, Margareta.

Don't be put off by the Romanian text.  I'm not.  The photos are wonderful. Old Christmas cards and photographs of members of the royal family celebrating the Christmas holidays.  Many of the photographs used in the book are from King Michael and Queen Anne's family albums.

 The title translates to Helen, a portrait of the Queen Mother. This book celebrates Queen Helen, the Queen Mother's life in photographs.

Princess Helen of Greece and Denmark was born in 1896, the third child and first daughter of King Constantine I of the Hellenes and Princess Sophie of Prussia.

In May 1921, she married her second cousin,  Crown Prince Carol of Romania, whose mother, Marie, was Queen Sophie's first cousin. Both were granddaughters of Queen Victoria.

Helen gave birth to the couple's only child, Michael, in October 1921.

The couple separated shortly afterward as Carol abandoned his family and his country for his mistress, Elena Lupescu, in Paris.  He renounced his rights to the throne in 1925.

King Ferdinand died two years later and was succeeded by his young grandson, King Michael, who reigned with a regency.   Eventually, in 1930, a political situation ensued and the government brought Carol back from exile and proclaimed him king.  Michael was demoted to Crown Prince.

The marriage was dissolved by divorce in 1928.

Queen Helen had been her son's custodial parent until Carol's return.  He made life very difficult for Helen and she was forced to live outside the country and had limited contact with her son.  It was only after Carol was forced to abdicate in 1940 that Helen was able to return to the country where her son was once again king.  She was proclaimed the Queen Mother.

Mother and son were devoted to each other and both had to remain strong throughout the war and the encroaching Communist influence.  On December 30, 1947,  Michael was forced to abdicate.  The entire Romanian royal family went into exile.

Queen Helen died in 1983, only 6 years before the fall of Communism.  Her remains were brought from Switzerland and interred in the Curtea des Arges in 2019.

This 87-page book offers us a superb study of Helen's life in photographs from childhood through the final years of her life.  Most of the photos are from the family's albums.  My favorite photo is the one of Helen, as a bride, beaming with happiness, Queen Marie standing by her side.

The total cost of all four books was just over $55.00, and all four went into my suitcase.

Two books commemorating  Margareta's 30th anniversary were published in January.

Sandra Gătejeanu Gheorghe's book, Margareta. Trei decenii ale Coroanei: 1990-2020, has also been published by Curtea de Veche.  An English language translation is scheduled for publication in the next few months.  This book commemorates HM Margareta's first 30 years of accomplishments in Romania.

Lumea Majestății Sale. Jubileul Custodelui Coroanei Române, which has a forward by the Prince of Wales, was written by Alexandru Muraru and Daniel Șandru.  Corint is the publisher.

None of the sites are in English.  You can use the right click on your mouse for translations.  I have ordered several books from Curtea Veche.  Postage will be added.  There are several currency converters that you can use to convert the Romanian Lei to your currency.  Books are not expensive.

You can also contact the publishers and the bookstore for ordering opportunities.

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