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Carol II of Romania

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King Carol II of Romania
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Carol II of Romania (15 October 1893 - 4 April 1953) reigned as King of Romania from June 8, 1930 until September 6, 1940. Eldest son of Ferdinand von Hohenzollern, King of Romania, and his wife, Queen Marie, a daughter of HRH Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, the second eldest son of Queen Victoria.

Contents

The "playboy king"

Known more for his romantic misadventures than for any leadership skills, Carol (Romanian for "Charles") first married in Odessa, Ukraine, 31 August, 1918, in contravention of royal law, Joanna Marie Valentina Lambrino, ("Zizi" Lambrino) (1898-1953), daughter of a Romanian general; they had one son, Mircea Gregor Carol Lambrino, and the marriage was annulled by royal decree in 1919. He next married, in Athens, Greece, (10 March, 1921), Princess Helena of Greece and Denmark, but the marriage soon collapsed in the wake of the king's affair with Elena Wolff (1895-1977, known as "Magda Lupescu" -- Lupescu is the Romanian equivalen of the German Wolff), a daughter of Nicolas Grünberg, a Jewish pharmacist, who adopted the name Nicolas Wolff, and his wife née Elizei Falk. Elena Wolff had formerly been the wife of Army officer Ion Tampenu. As a result of the scandal, he renounced his right to the throne in December 1925 in favour of his son by Helena, Michael, who became King in July 1927. Carol and Helena were divorced in 1928. He had additional illegitimate children by a mistress, Maria Martini.

Through all these adventures, he became known above all as a playboy king. Purported eyewitnesses even claim him to have gone with a famous prostitute, Foamea Neagră, from the Crucea de piatră district. A fictionalized version of the episode is narrated by Petru Dumitriu in his novel Cronică de familie (Family Chronicle).

Rule

Returning to the country unexpectedly on 7 June, 1930, Carol was proclaimed King the following day. For the next decade he sought to influence the course of Romanian political life, first through manipulation of the rival Peasant and Liberal parties and anti-Semitic factions, and subsequently (January 1938) through a ministry of his own choosing, with a constitution (27 February) reserving ultimate power to the crown. In 1938, he banned the Iron Guard, which he early supported in the 1930s.

An excellent fictionalized account of life in Bucharest in the final years of Carol's reign can be found in Olivia Manning's novels The Great Fortune and The Spoilt City.

Exile

Forced under first Soviet and subsequently Hungarian, Bulgarian and German pressure to surrender parts of his kingdom to foreign rule, he was outmanoevred at last by the pro-German administration of Marshal Ion Antonescu, and abdicated in favour of Michael, settling ultimately in Portugal.

Carol left Romania in a train laden with royal treasure: paintings by Old Masters such as Titian, Rubens, and Rembrandt, hundreds of canvasses, jewels, the armor that had decorated the walls of the royal palaces of Pelişor and Peleş. A death squad of Iron Guard legionnaires, fired on the royal train, but failed to stop it. The sale in Portugal of much of this treasure gave him enormous wealth, which he spent lavishly, living a life of wasteful luxury.

He and Magda Lupescu were married in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on 3 June, 1947, styling herself thereafter as Princess Elena von Hohenzollern. He remained in exile for the rest of his life.

His remains returned to Romania

Carol died in Portugal in 1953; his remains were returned to Romania in 2003. His remains now lie in the Curtea de Argeş monastery, but outside of the church that is the burial place of most Romanian kings. His son and successor, Mihai did not participate in the ceremony, being represented by Princess Margareta and Prince Radu.


Preceded by:
Michael
King of Romania
1930-1940
Succeeded by:
Michael

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See also

nl:Carol II van Roemenië ro:Carol al II-lea al României

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