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10 Reasons Why Queen Anne of Romania is Larger than Life

King Michael and Queen Anne of Romania. Image: Linkedin

Queen Anne, considered as Romania’s “Uncrowned Queen,” was hailed “as one of the most important symbols of wisdom, dignity and, especially, as a model of moral conduct." Despite the difficulties she encountered in her earlier life, she went on to become the strength and the biggest support that King Michael I (who himself had to endure losing the throne of Romania) ever had. Let us take a look at her trying yet colorful life.

She was related to every royal in Europe. She was born Anne Antoinette Françoise Charlotte Zita Marguerite of Bourbon-Parma, on September 18, 1923. Her father, Prince Rene of Bourbon-Parma, was the nineteenth child of Robert I, the last reigning Duke of Parma. Her mother was Princess Margaret of Denmark, the daughter of Prince Valdemar of Denmark and Princess Marie of Orleans. Valdemar was the youngest son of King Christian IX of Denmark. His sisters were Queen Alexandra of Great Britain and Empress Marie Feodorovna of Russia.

As the granddaughter of Robert I Anne was the first cousin of King Boris III of Bulgaria, Robert Hugo, Duke of Parma, Princess Alicia, Dowager Duchess of Calabria, Carlos Hugo, Duke of Parma, Crown Prince Otto of Austria, and Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg.

She lived a life as if she were a commoner. Anne’s childhood saw her spend her holidays at the Dowager Duchess of Parma’s Villa Pianore and Prince Valdemar’s home in Denmark. However, when the Germans invaded France during World War II, the family had to flee to the United States where Prince Rene found employment at a domestic gas company.  Her mother, meanwhile, worked a hatmaker. After studying design in New York City from 1940 to 1943, she was hired as a store assistant at Macy's department store.

Queen Anne's parents, Prince Rene of Bourbon-Parma (left) and
Princess Margaret of Denmark (right).

During World War II, she served the Allies. She volunteered in the French Army and worked as an ambulance driver in various countries such as Northern Africa, Italy, Luxembourg and Germany. For her contribution to the war efforts, she was awarded the French Croix de guerre.

Her first meeting with King Michael of Romania was rather disappointing. Anne and King Michael I of Romania met for the first time at the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten.  She was unexpectedly introduced to the Romanian king at Claridge's, where she came to see her parents. Surprised, she accidentally clicked her heels rather than offer the curtsey. The embarrassed and unassuming princess fled the scene.

… But King Michael pursued her. The King saw Anne once more that night at the Luxembourg embassy soirée. After that, they met several times in London, but Anne was accompanied either by her mother or brother. Michael proposed for marriage a few weeks later but they did not announce their engagement until Michael informed the government.

And they got married despite all odds. King Michael I was deposed but the Romanian government made it appear that Michael abdicated so he could marry Anne, who was a Roman Catholic. Anne heard little of Michael until they finally met in Davos on January 23, 1948. Despite issues regarding the couple’s religion, their wedding went ahead and was celebrated at the Royal Palace in Greece on June 10, 1948. Their wedding was attended by royalties from around Europe.

King Michael and Queen Anne on their wedding.
They lived ordinary but very relatively peaceful lives. After their wedding, since Michael could no longer return to Romania, the couple settled in Hertfordshire, where they let a friend’s home. They worked as market gardeners until they became poultry farmers. When their business failed, they moved to Versoix on Lake Geneva in 1956. Here, Michael worked as a test pilot for William Lear of Lear Jets until he opened his own electronics firm. Michael also tried his hand as a stockbroker representing many European and American firms.

… and raised their kids as a suburban family. Anne lived the life of a suburban housewife, raising her five daughters: Margarita, Elena, Irina, Sophie and Marie. They taught them how to speak English and French and she did the household chores. She usually entertained guests in her kitchen.  

Until Michael returned to Romania after the fall of communism. Anne made her first trip ever in 1992. From 1993 to 1997, though, Michael was banned from entering Romania, so it was Anne who made a visit on his behalf. The hostility against Michael eventually subsided and the Royal Family were allowed entrance. Elisabeta Palace in Bucharest were provided for them and they recovered some of their properties, including Săvârşin Castle and Peleş Castle.

In her death, she received the most lavish royal funeral since the time of Queen Marie. Anne’s popularity among the Romanians earned her the respect of the country’s leaders until her death on August 1, 2016. The Romanian government declared August 13 as the national day of mourning and the flag was raised to half-mast. According to BBC, “President Klaus Iohannis of Romania, Moldova's President Nicolae Timofti, many other statesmen and thousands of well-wishers, have paid their respects, as her coffin lay in state at Peles Castle at Sinaia and at the Royal Palace in Bucharest.” She was buried at Curtea de Arges. 


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