With best wishes for Christmas and the New Year 2011! … Read More
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.
The videos and images in this post have been initially published on Diana Mandache’s blog on Romanian royal history.
HM King Michael of Romania celebrated his 89th birthday anniversary on 25 October 2010, which happily coincide with that the Day of the Romanian Army. The event was marked in Bucharest by an extraordinary concert at the “Romanian Athenaeum” featuring the opera singer Nelly Miricioiu, a famous Romanian soprano with worldwide performances, accompanied by the Ukrainian-Romanian singer Youriy Tsiple and the Romanian Youth Orchestra, coductor Horia Andreescu.
The “Romanian Athenaeum” constitutes the symbol building of Bucharest, and in my opinion is the best quality monumental construction of this city. The edifice is the master-work of the French architect Albert Galleron, designed in the Beaux Arts style and finished in 1888. The plans of the Atheneum were also positively reviewed by the architect Charles Garnier, the designer of the grandiose Paris Opera House (known today as Opera Garnier).
Diana and I were thrilled and honoured to be invited by the Royal House to this wonderful musical performance and we enjoyed it to the full, meeting HRH Crown Princess Margarita and HRH Prince Radu of Romania and wishing a very Happy Birthday to Our Sovereign, HM King Michael! Bellow are a immortalised a few moments from this beautiful event and excellent quality performance by Nelly Miricioiu, which so much impressed us!
A very Happy Birthday to HM Queen Anne of Romania, 18 September 2010!
This post was initially been published on Diana Mandache’s blog on royal history.
I would like to extend my well wishes to Queen Anne for her birthday anniversary! Most of the heritage architecture of Bucharest and Romania has been created during the reign of the Romanian monarchs. The Royal Family represents the link with those achievements, cultivating with abnegation, through the work of its members, the appreciation of this country’s history. Queen Anne’s exemplary life, from her education and remarkable modesty in the spirit of the catholic church, to the meritorious service during the Second World War in the French Forces, and sacrifices endured with dignity during the long exile together with her husband, King Michael of Romania, is an ideal worth emulating for us all! VM
On 23 August 1944, King Michael of Romania led the antifascist against the pro-German government, by personally arresting the dictator, marshal Ion Antonescu, a war criminal responsible for the death of hundred of thousands of Romanian and Soviet Jews, who allied the country with Nazi Germany and took it into a hugely disastrous war against the Soviet Union where, by some reckonings, over half a million of Romanian soldiers perished senselessly. The subsequent communist government hijacked the significance of this day claiming the entire merit for themselves and declaring it as the National Day. Nowadays the event is largely forgotten or in the best case ignored by a population that has a low level of education and interest in history, reflected also in the wholesale destruction of the country’s architectural heritage for the purpose of crude property speculation. King Michael, by allying Romania with the democratic powers and the Soviet Union, ensured the shortening of the entire WWII with at least six months, according to western historians, and obtained a better deal for Romania in the subsequent peace negotiations.
In 2008 I published, in the academic magazine “Cold War History”, a review of one of the best books on those events and the personality of King Michael, written by Ivor Porter (“Michael of Romania: The King and the Country”), a former British special operative in those days, who participated directly at the events and is a close friend of His Majesty. He died in 2012 at the age of 98 after an eventful and exemplary life, here is his obituary in the Daily Telegraph). I am extremely fortunate and honoured to have met in the past decade both these two personalities in places like London or Bucharest. The book review below is my humble tribute to HM King Michael and his heroic deeds on this day in 1944:
Cold War History
Vol. 8, No. 4, November 2008, Routledge, pp. 564-565
Michael of Romania: The King and the Country, by Ivor Porter, Stroud, Sutton, 2005, xxi + 328pp.
The relevance of monarchies in modern South-East European history is a subject that is very much underrated by the Western specialists on the region. The Balkan monarchs made crucial contributions to the process of state and nation building and even today their pre-eminence is conspicuous in countries such as Romania, where the king is a public figure of highest moral integrity who saved the country from disaster in the Second World War, or in Bulgaria, where the monarch became one of the prime ministers after the fall of communism. In this timely book Ivor Porter charts the life of King Michael of Romania with great skill and in-depth understanding. Through eloquent personal accounts and historical records from the king’s personal archive he shows how very much the life of the sovereign was intertwined with the history of his country. The author knows Romania intimately, being well known for his activity as a British special operations executive operative in the country and later as a staff member of the Allied Control Commission in Bucharest.
The book is thus an important witness statement that throws new light on the onset of the Cold War in Romania and South-East Europe. The author shows that the communitisation of the country started with the direct Western approval, and also because of Allied’s unwarranted trust in the Soviet Union, coupled with hesitation at every step, mirroring in many aspects the behaviour toward Hitler before the war. Moscow did not display such niceties and went straight for the jugular in order to achieve its objectives. In Romania there was room for manoeuvre against the Soviet plans in 1945–46, but the opportunity to act was lost because of West’s procrastination. The Russians, unlike the Western Allies, expertly knew the problems of Romania and were able to exploit them in full, as shown by the restoration of Transylvania to Romania as a powerful bargaining argument securing the country’s cooperation.
King Michael stands apart as a moral beacon in the middle of his country’s tragedies. Even in 1943 he made a public call for the country to extricate itself from the war, causing panic among the pro-German leadership. His greatest accomplishment was the coup of 23 August 1944, when with immense courage and vision he crucially instrumented the overthrow the pro-German dictatorship, with the effect that Romania immediately joined the Allies’ cause. The country thus avoided an imminent catastrophe, and according to western sources, the king’s action shortened the war by six months. That is a most remarkable achievement, even more so for a 23-year-old monarch, revealed by the fact that the army and administration followed their sovereign unwaveringly. That brought him and Romania the esteem of the Allies, well expressed in Churchill’s instruction to the British representatives in Bucharest: ‘stick to the boy’ (p. 130). The Soviets were conscious of his popularity among the people and even decorated the king with the Order of Victory, the highest Soviet honour given to only five foreigners, among them General Eisenhower. Uniquely in Cold War Europe, this resulted in three years of uneasy cohabitation between the king and a Soviet-imposed government led by the communists, with the Red Army present all over the country.
A great merit of this book lies in confirming the continuity between the successive dictatorships that plagued Romania in the twentieth century – beginning with the royal dictatorship of King Carol II, Michael’s father, continued by the wartime fascist-military one of Marshal Antonescu, and culminating in the communist totalitarianism. There was not only continuity of methods and motifs, but also of individuals involved at all levels in propping up these successive dictatorships with equal zeal. Through his actions King Michael interrupted that vicious cycle for a very brief period, and after his forced abdication he became a symbol of democracy and hope for most Romanians in the decades to come. Even after 1989 the crypto-communists that came to power continued to put up obstacles to his definitive return home. He was allowed to reside in Romania again and regain his citizenship only in 1997, once the country made a decisive break with the legacy of the Cold War, when for the first time the opposition gained power through democratic elections. The book thus makes it abundantly clear why we need to investigate seriously the royal history of South-East Europe in order to enhance our understanding of the Cold War problems in that often unstable region of the world. © Valentin Mandache