Queen Anne of Romania

Anne of Bourbon-Parma
Queen of Romania[1]

Anne at the Romanian French Community gala in Paris, 1991
Born (1923-09-18)18 September 1923
Paris, French Third Republic
Died 1 August 2016(2016-08-01) (aged 92)
Morges, Switzerland
Burial Curtea de Argeș Cathedral
Spouse Michael I of Romania (m. 1948)
Issue Crown Princess Margareta
Princess Elena
Princess Irina
Princess Sophie
Princess Maria
Full name
Anne Antoinette Françoise Charlotte Zita Marguerite
House Bourbon-Parma
Father Prince René of Bourbon-Parma
Mother Princess Margaret of Denmark

Princess Anne of Bourbon-Parma, also known as Queen Anne of Romania (Anne Antoinette Françoise Charlotte Zita Marguerite of Bourbon-Parma,[2] 18 September 1923 – 1 August 2016), was the wife of former king Michael I of Romania.

Early life

Anne was born in Paris, France, the only daughter of Prince René of Bourbon-Parma and Princess Margaret of Denmark.[2] With her three brothers she spent her childhood in France. Their holidays were spent alternately at the Villa Pianore in Lucca with their paternal grandmother the Dowager Duchess of Parma, or at Bernstorff Palace in Copenhagen with their maternal grandfather.[3] In 1939 her family fled from the Nazis and escaped to Spain. From there they went on to Portugal and then to the United States.[3] She attended the Parsons School of Design in New York City from 1940 to 1943. She also worked as a sales assistant at Macy's department store. In 1943, she volunteered for military service in the French Army.[4] She served in Algeria, Morocco, Italy, Luxembourg and in liberated Germany, as an ambulance driver. Anne received the French Croix de guerre for her wartime service.[3]



In November 1947, Anne met King Michael I of Romania who was visiting London for the Wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten.[2] In fact, a year previously Queen Mother Elena had invited Anne, her mother, and brothers for a visit to Bucharest, but the plan did not come off.[5] Meanwhile, Michael had glimpsed Anne in a newsreel and requested a photograph from the film footage.[5]

She did not want to accompany her parents to London for the royal wedding as she wished to avoid meeting King Michael in official surroundings. Instead, she planned to stay behind, go alone to the Paris railway station and, pretending to be a passerby in the crowd, privately observe the king as his entourage escorted him to his London-bound train.[5] However, at the last moment she was persuaded by her cousin, Prince Jean of Luxembourg, to come to London, where he planned to host a party. Upon arrival, she stopped by Claridge's to see her parents, and found herself being introduced unexpectedly to King Michael. Abashed to the point of confusion, she clicked her heels instead of curtseying, and fled in embarrassment. Charmed, the king saw her again the night of the wedding at the Luxembourg embassy soirée, confided in her some of his concerns about the Communist takeover of Romania and fears for his mother's safety, and nicknamed her Nan.[5] They saw each other several times thereafter on outings in London, always chaperoned by her mother or brother.

A few days later, she accepted an invitation to accompany Michael and his mother when he piloted a Beechcraft aeroplane to take his aunt Princess Irene, Duchess of Aosta, back home to Lausanne.[5] Sixteen days after meeting, Michael proposed to Anne while the couple were out on a drive in Lausanne. She initially declined, but later accepted after taking long walks and drives with him.[3] Although Michael gave her an engagement ring a few days later, he felt obliged to refrain from a public announcement until he informed his government, despite the fact that the press besieged them in anticipation.[5]

Michael returned to Romania, where he was told by the prime minister that a wedding announcement was not "opportune". Yet within days it was used as the government's public explanation for Michael's sudden "abdication", when in fact the king was deposed by the Communists on 30 December.[5] Anne was unable to get further news of Michael until he left the country. They finally reunited in Davos on 23 January 1948.[5]


Michael and Anne on a 2014 Romanian stamp

As a Bourbon, Anne was bound by the canon law of the Roman Catholic Church, which required that she receive a dispensation to marry a non-Catholic Christian (Michael is Orthodox). At the time, such a dispensation was normally only given if the non-Roman Catholic partner promised to allow the children of the marriage to be raised as Roman Catholics. Michael refused to make this promise since it would have violated Romania's monarchical constitution, and would be likely to have a detrimental impact upon any possible restoration.[5] The Holy See (which handled the matter directly since Michael was a member of a reigning dynasty) refused to grant the dispensation unless Michael made the required promise.

Helen, Queen Mother of Romania and her sister Princess Irene of Greece and Denmark, Duchess of Aosta (an Orthodox married to a Catholic Prince) met with the fiancée's parents in Paris, where the two families resolved to take their case to the Vatican in person. In early March, the couple's mothers met with Pope Pius XII who, despite the entreaties of the Queen Mother and the fact that Princess Margrethe pounded her fist on the table in anger, refused permission for Anne to marry Michael.[5]

It has been surmised that the Pope's refusal was, in part, motivated by the fact that when Princess Giovanna of Italy married Anne's cousin, King Boris III of Bulgaria, in 1930, the couple had undertaken to raise their future children as Roman Catholics, but had baptized them in the Orthodox faith in deference to Bulgaria's state religion.[5] However, Michael declined to make a promise he could not keep politically, while Anne's mother was herself the daughter of a mixed marriage between a Catholic (Marie d'Orléans) and a Protestant (Prince Valdemar of Denmark), who had abided by their pre-ne temere compromise to raise their sons as Protestant and their daughter, Margrethe, as Catholic.[5]

Although under a great deal of stress,[3] the engaged couple resolved to proceed. Anne's paternal uncle, Xavier, Duke of Parma, issued a statement objecting to any marriage conducted against the will of the Pope and the bride's family. It was he, not the Pontiff, who forbade Anne's parents to attend the wedding.[5] Michael's spokesman declared on 9 June that the parents had been asked and had given their consent, and that the bride's family would be represented at the nuptials by her maternal uncle, the Protestant Prince Erik of Denmark, who was to give the bride away.[5]

The wedding ceremony was held on 10 June 1948 in Athens, Greece, in the throne room of the Royal Palace;[3] the ceremony was performed by Archbishop Damaskinos and King Paul of Greece served as koumbaros.[5] Guests at the wedding included: Michael's mother Helen, Queen Mother of Romania, aunts Queen Frederica, Princess Irene of Greece and Denmark, Duchess of Aosta, Princess Katherine of Greece and Denmark; cousins Alexandra, Queen Consort of Yugoslavia, Prince Amedeo, Duke of Aosta, Princess Sophia of Greece and Denmark, Crown Prince Constantine of Greece and Princess Irene of Greece and Denmark, the three youngest ones serving as bridesmaids and pageboy; Anne's maternal uncle Prince Erik of Denmark; Princess Nicholas of Greece and Denmark, Prince George William of Hanover and many other dignitaries.[6] Michael's father, Prince Carol, and his sisters, Maria, Queen Mother of Yugoslavia, Princess Elisabeth of Romania (ex-Queen Consort of Greece) and Princess Ileana of Romania were notified, but not invited.[5]

As no papal dispensation was given for the marriage, when it was celebrated according to the rites of the Eastern Orthodox Church, it was deemed invalid by the Roman Catholic Church, but perfectly legal by every other authority. The couple would eventually take part in a religious ceremony again, on 9 November 1966, at the Roman Catholic Church of St Charles in Monaco, thus satisfying Roman Catholic canon law.[5]

Adult life

After their wedding in 1948, Anne and Michael rented a house in Hertfordshire for four years, where they became market gardeners and farmed poultry. In 1956 they moved to Versoix on Lake Geneva, and raised five daughters there.[3] In 1992 Anne and Michael visited Romania for three days; it was Anne's first visit to the country.[3] From 1993 to 1997, despite repeated attempts, Michael was refused entry to Romania by the hostile Romanian government.[3] During these years Anne visited the country a number of times representing her husband. After 1997, there were no restrictions on Anne and Michael's entry into Romania. Elisabeta Palace was put at their disposal by the government, and they recovered some properties from the state, including Săvârşin Castle and Peleş Castle.[5]

In June 2008, Anne and Michael celebrated their Diamond Wedding Anniversary with 3 days of events in Romania which was the largest celebration the couple ever had together subsequent to their wedding in June 1948.[7]

Guests at the events included: their two eldest daughters Crown Princess Margareta and Princess Elena, their sons-in-law Prince Radu and Alexander Nixon and Princess Elena's two children: Prince Nicholas and Elisabeta-Karina; Michael's maternal cousins ex-King Constantine II of Greece, Queen Sofia of Spain, Prince Amedeo, Duke of Aosta and Princess Irene of Greece and Denmark who were the original attendants at their wedding in 1948; Queen Anne-Marie of Greece, King Simeon II of Bulgaria and his wife Queen Margarita, Crown Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia and his wife Crown Princess Katherine, Duarte Pio, Duke of Braganza, Maximilian, Margrave of Baden and his wife Archduchess Valerie,[10] Prince Lorenz of Belgium, Archduke of Austria-Este, Princess Silvia, Duchess of Aosta, Princess Marie Astrid of Luxembourg, Prince Philip of Bourbon-Parma and his wife Princess Anette.[5] Attendees also included Representatives of Romania and of the Romanian Government, such as: Prime Minister Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu, Bogdan Olteanu, President of the Chamber of Deputies, Ionel Haiduc, President of the Romanian Academy, Patriarch Daniel and also members of the Diplomatic corps.[11]


Anne and King Michael had five daughters, all of whom have been married and three of whom have children:

Anne was the younger sister of Prince Jacques of Bourbon-Parma and elder sister to Prince Michel of Bourbon-Parma who is married to Princess Maria Pia of Savoy (eldest child of King Umberto II of Italy and Queen Marie José), and Prince André of Bourbon-Parma.

As a granddaughter of Robert I, Duke of Parma she was first cousin to: 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.


Flowers and candles in front of the fence of the former Royal Palace in Bucharest on 13 August 2016

Anne died on 1 August 2016 in a hospital in Morges, Switzerland, at the age of 92.[12][13][14] Although the offer to confer a posthumous military medal on her was declined by her family,[15] Romania's President Klaus Iohannis offered condolences to King Michael and the royal family, issuing a statement which described the deceased as devoted to the country whose name she bore, "Her Majesty Queen Ana of Romania will remain forever in memory and in our hearts as one of the most important symbols of wisdom, dignity and, especially, as a model of moral conduct.".[16] The government of Romania declared that the 13 August 2016 shall be a national day of mourning, during which the Romanian flag when displayed is to fly at half-mast at all institutions and buildings, private, cultural and partisan as well as public, and television and radio broadcasts are to adapt their programming appropriately in memory of Anne of Romania, whose funeral will be conducted that day at the Curtea de Argeș Cathedral.[17] Two days later, on 5 August, President Nicolae Timofti of Moldova likewise decreed national mourning on 13 August in memory of Queen Anne, also calling for the republic to observe a moment of silence at 10 am on that day.[18]


Royal standard of the Queen of Romania

Dynastic honours

Foreign honours




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  18. Presidency of the Republic of Moldova website.Moldovan president declares 13 August 2016 as national mourning day - See more at: http://www.presedinte.md/eng/presa/presedintele-timofti-a-decretat-13-august-2016-zi-de-doliu-national#sthash.A3Eg95j9.dpuf. 5 August 2016.
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