18 August 2016

#TBT: Florals for Eugenie, Fergie and Zenouska

With rumors running rampant about an imminent engagement announcement for Princess Eugenie of York and her longtime beau Jack Brooksbank, I decided to click through some photos of baby Eugenie from the early 1990s. What a treasure trove I found!! I could not resist this throwback to the ever-present floral patterns of that era--how nearly I had forgotten them. (Although my own college photos certainly attest to the trend.) I hope you enjoy this fun pic of Eugenie with her mum Sarah, who was still HRH The Duchess of York, and Princess Alexandra's granddaughter, Zenouska Mowatt. The colored shoes and ankle socks are almost as adorable as these royal toddlers! And, I'm not quite sure if Eugenie is toting a security blanket or a white cardy to match her cousin's purple one.

04 August 2016

Farewell to the Last Queen of Romania

By MrBoise via Wikimedia Commons
Very few queens have worked in a department store. Perhaps only this one.

Born in 1923 to cadet members of the royal houses of Bourbon-Parma and Denmark, Princess Anne of Bourbon-Parma had gobs of glamorous cousins more royal than she, but she didn't necessarily have bright prospects. She was born just a few years after World War I and revolution had decimated Europe's royal houses. When she was a teenager, World War II sent her family as blue-blooded refugees across the pond to the United States. She studied at the famous Parsons School of Design in New York and took a job at the also world-famous Macy's before returning to Europe to become a decorated ambulance driver in the French Army. In the meantime, Europe's remaining thrones were continuing to topple due to the evils of Nazism and the fall of iron curtain.

It was a time when royals were still expected (practically required) to marry other royals. There was a great surplus of princesses, but relatively few royal young men--with or without crowns. One, however, stood out, and it wasn't long before matchmaking mamas thought that the brave and talented Anne might be a very good match for King Michael of Romania who had grown up being placed on and off the throne thanks to his father's less than princely devotion to duty and country.  The magic moment of their meeting took place during the celebrations surrounding the 1947 wedding of the couple known today as Queen Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh, both of whom were cousins to Anne and to Michael. Their attraction was instantaneous and Michael waited barely a fortnight to propose.

via Wikimedia Commons
As with all of the Balkan kingdoms during that era, however, all was not well. Before their engagement could be made public, the Communists in Romania seized the opportunity to finally force the abdication of the 26-year-old King Michael. Their marriage stirred further controversy when the Pope refused to grant a dispensation for the Catholic Anne to marry her Orthodox groom. The Pope would not budge on the issue even when the couple's mothers demanded his agreement in person. Anne and Michael decided to marry any way, even after the Head of the House of Parma refused to allow her family to attend a ceremony that had not been sanctioned by the Catholic church. So, the couple wed in Athens (his mother had been a Greek princess) without her parents in attendance, but with their blessing.

With no country to call home, Anne and her new husband took up residence in England before moving on to Switzerland. She never even had the opportunity to visit the nation of which she was the nominal queen until 1992, two years after the fall of Communism. The frustrations surrounding their wedding were resolved over time--the Catholic Church allowed them to have a sanctioned religious ceremony 19 years after their original wedding and they were able to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in Romania in 1997. Michael's Romanian citizenship was restored and the couple began to split their time between their long-established home in Switzerland and royal castles in Romania.

Diagnosed with two different kinds of cancer, 94-year-old Michael officially retired from public life early this year. His health has been extremely precarious. Despite this, he was at her side in the hospital every day during the last week of her life. When she passed away on August 1, 2016 at age 92, four of their five daughters were at her side. A memorial service will take place in Romania on August 9 with representatives of the diplomatic corps, the European Union, NATO, other international organizations, the Romanian and Moldavian governments, and the Catholic and Orthodox churches in attendance. After that, her coffin will be available for members of the public to pay their respects. On August 13, a public ceremony was be held before she is moved to the cathedral for private funeral with just her family (including members of her extended royal family from across the continent) in attendance.