Today is the 91st birthday of HM King Michael of Romania!
Bellow is the article in the British monthly magazine “Majesty” published last year, authored by Diana and the undersigned celebrating His Majesty’s life and achievements:
This article has initially been published in Diana Mandache’s blog on Royal History.
Romania tomorrow, 10 May 2011, celebrates 130 years since the coronation of King Carol I and Queen Elizabeth as the first sovereigns of the Kingdom of Romania, an event which marked the inauguration of the most prosperous period in the country’s history, an era when a majority of its historic architecture edifices were built. That epoch of great achievements and organic development was cut short by the communist takeover of December 1947, which gave way to a long and catastrophic decline from which the country has not yet recovered.
H.R.H. The Princess Sophie of Romania is the fourth daughter of King Michael of Romania. She goes by “Sophie de Roumanie” professionally. Princess Sophie studied Fine Arts at the University of North Carolina, Asheville, and Graphic Design and Photography at the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, D.C.
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Because the whole planet seems now captivated by the recent wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, now Duchess of Cambridge, I thought it would be a good idea to post an article touching the subject of historic Romanian architecture in the context of another wedding, more than a century ago, involving Romanian royals. Bellow is a very rare old postcard depicting the official cavalcade accompanying Marie, the Princess of Edinburgh, freshly made a Princess of Romania through the marriage with Crown Prince Ferdinand, when she first arrived, after the marriage ceremony and honeymoon, in her adopted country on the 24 January (4 Feb.- Julian calendar) 1893. Marie’s coach is seen acclaimed by Bucharest’s citizens, passing by two of the city’s architectural landmarks of the late Victorian era: the Unirii Market Hall (in the background), a large and beautiful iron frame structure similar with the ubiquitous Les Halles Centrales found in many of the late c19th French towns and the majestic Beaux Arts style building of the Brancovensc Hospital Establishment (in the foreground). Both these wonderful edifices, so important for Bucharest’s identity, were savagely demolished by the communist authorities in the mid-1980s, during dictator Ceausescu’s infamous vast and architecturally coarse remodelling of large areas of central Bucharest for his infamous “Victory of Socialism” project. That area is today full of ugly and badly maintained massive communist apartment blocks, which are also among the most expensive properties in Romania’s capital- a measure of the dismal level of culture and confused identity of the post-communist inhabitants of this city.
For more information on Queen Marie of Romania see “Marie of Romania. Images of a Queen” by Diana Mandache, Rosvall Royal Books, 2007.
I endeavour through this series of periodic articles to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural history and heritage.
If you plan acquiring or selling a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing and transacting the property, specialist research, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.
This is a trailer from the documentary film entitled “Coroana Romaniei” (“The Crown of Romania”), directed by Marian Baciu from Sahia Studios in Bucharest, produced in 2010. The author of this blog presents within the section dedicated to His Majesty King Michael, together with the historian Diana Mandache who also details the reigns of King Carol I and Carol II. King Ferdinand and his achievements are likewise surveyed.
An inclusive descritpion, in Romanian, by the historian Diana Mandache (Fotescu), written in 1992, of the White Hall from Cotroceni Royal Palace in Bucharest. The hall is known today as Cerchez Hall after the architect who re-designed it in the 1920s. The great reception room became a source of inspiration for architects who applied its design principles to their inter-war Neo-Romanian style projects.
I endeavor through this daily series of daily articles to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural history and heritage.
If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing the property, specialist research, planning permissions, restoration project management, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.
The statue of King Carol I, the sovereign who modernised Romania on European lines from a backwater Ottoman province and won the country’s independence on the battlefield has been put back in its former place in front of the Royal Palace in Bucharest after a seven decade absence. The original statue was the master-work of the famous Croatian/ Yugoslav sculptor Ivan Mestovic and has been inaugurated on 10 May 1939, the National Day of Romania that celebrated the day when Carol I first arrived in Bucharest from Germany in 1866 as the newly appointed Prince of the Danubian Principalities of Moldova and Wallachia. The statue has been pulled down by the communist government in 1948, a few months after the forced abdication of the King Michael, in a barbaric show of force using tanks to tear down the structure. Its bronze is said to have been used in the construction of the statue of Lenin that has stood until 1990 in front of the Casa Scanteii (the communist press house), when this was in its turn pulled down by an enraged Bucharest population in the aftermath of the 1989 anti-communist revolution.
The actual statue is a loose replica of the original one, by the sculptor Florin Codre. There were controversies with the descendants of Ivan Mestrovic regarding the copyrights for this artistic master-work, which seems to have been ironed out in negotiations and compensations by the Bucharest mayoralty. I assisted on 6 Dec 2010 at the re-inauguration ceremony of this monument; bellow is a video and a photograph from that event.
PS I had the great honour to be contacted by Mrs Rumiana Mestrovic, the daughter-in-law of the great Croatian sculptor. Please read the comments section, where Mrs Mestrovic expounds her qualified view on the controversies and awkward copyright issues raised by the production of the present monument and also about the many apparent blunders committed by the Romanian government and Bucharest authorities in communicating with the descendants and copyright holders of Ivan Mestrovic’s creations. It is indeed clear that the present statue is unfortunately a recycled concoction of the the original inter-war monument, put together by the Romanian sculptor Florin Codre. The Romanian authorities, who in general are a poorly cultured lot, products of the low quality education system of Romania, have once again managed to mess up an event that if organised properly, without the usual associated corruption and clan politics, would have been so auspicious in recovering the identity and memory of this city.
This post has initially been published on Diana Mandache’s blog on Royal History: http://royalromania.wordpress.com/2010/12/07/bucharest-recovers-its-royal-past-the-equestrian-statue-of-king-carol-i/
HRH Princess Margarita of Romania has launched last Saturday, at the “Gaudeamus book fair” in Bucharest, among a wide acclaim from the public and considerable interest from the press, her new book on culinary subjects. The volume is entitled “Royal Cookbook” [“Carte regala de bucate” in Romanian] and is produced by the Curtea Veche publishing house.
The book is a true work of love, the result of personal searches, culinary experiences, encounters and contributions from an important number of European royals with whom the Princess is related or in close friendship. The great distinction of this volume is represented by the small vignettes charmingly portraying its contributors, people from the immediate family like HM King Michel, HM Queen Anne and HRH Prince Radu’s mother to Archduke Georg of Austria or Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan. The vignettes interposed between enticing cooking recipes are excellent devices for communicating to the reader the culinary tastes and firsthand glimpses of the daily life and aspirations of HRH Princess Margarita’s family and friends. I very much like the concise and precise writing style of the author, which makes the book a breeze to read and reveals without doubt the leadership genes shared by the princess with her ancestors, distinguished sovereigns of Romania. The Curtea Veche publishing house is to be commended for its acumen in publishing this wonderful book.
Sharing and talking about food is one of the most convivial human activities, which bring together groups and individuals, managing to break otherwise insurmountable barriers between them. Through this brilliant book, written in a straight forward manner, communicating with ease its hospitality message, the Romanian Royal House has scored very high mark public relations points, which in the more usual daily life circumstances would have necessitated a considerably greater effort and expense. The volume thus represents a direct link with the public that brings the monarchy closer to the people, further blowing away the smokescreen put between them by the uncongenial press and politicians.
Diana and I were among the numerous public that listened to the introductory speech of HRH Princess Margarita at the book fair. The area occupied by the bookstands seemed too small to hold such an enthusiastic crowd that surged forward, with people stepping over each others’ toes to catch a glimpse of the author and get an autograph. As historians, we had thus a delightful opportunity to feel and observe at first hand the huge interest and positive emotion generated by this remarkable event.