01 August 2017

Jewel History: Ex-King and Princess Wed in Greek Palace (1948)

King Michael of Romania and Princess Anne of Bourbon-Parma on their wedding day. Anne is wearing the Romanian Greek Key Tiara and Queen Marie's diamond sautoir. (Wikimedia Commons)

"Ex-King and Princess Wed in Greek Palace"
(originally appeared in the Lethbridge Herald, 10 Jun 1948)

ATHENS, June 10 -- Michael, youthful ex-king of Romania [1], and Anne, a 24-year-old Danish princess of the House of Bourbon-Parma [2], were married today in the royal palace here.

In a ceremony which took slightly more than 20 minutes, Archbishop Damaskinos [3] of the Greek Orthodox Church united the royal families of Romania and Denmark. Anne and Michael first met at the wedding last fall of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip in London [4].

Anne, wearing a rose-colored embroidered tulle dress with a veil and an 11-foot-long train carried by three pages, was given away by her uncle, Prince Erik of Denmark [5]. King Paul of Greece [6] acted as best man for Michael, who wore the dress uniform of a Romanian general. As Princess Anne entered the hall, converted into a Greek Orthodox chapel, on her uncle's arm, King Paul, standing by the altar, with the bridegroom, came forward and led her to her place beside him.

King Paul's aide-de-camp held heavy gold crowns behind the couple as the archbishop conducted the ceremony, watched by members of the Greek and former Balkan royal families and Deputy Prime Minister Constantin Tsaldaris of Greece.

The royal guard of Evzones, mountain troops wearing the traditional gold embroidered uniform with white skirts, lined the throne hall and kept security guard outside the palace, which was barred to the press and the public during the wedding.

The archbishop, former regent of Greece, spoke the last words of the ceremony "Isaiah Horepse" ("with the help of God, dance"). In accordance with the ancient rites, Michael and Anne made three turns around the table. While they "danced" thus, they were showered with rice and rose petals. The royal pair's crowns were connected by a ribbon, symbolizing their union.

One slight change was made in the Greek Orthodox ritual. In the purely Greek ceremony the couple wear artificial or natural wreaths of lemon blossoms attached, one to the other, by ribbons. Today, however, they used the gold-burnished crowns, as in the Russian Orthodox ceremony. The crowns did not actually rest on their heads, but were held directly over them by attendants.

Anne's parents, Prince Rene [7] and Princess Marguerite of Bourbon-Parma [8], did not attend the ceremony, although they gave their assent to the wedding by Orthodox rites in spite of Anne's remaining a Roman Catholic.

One Greek source thought their failure to attend was because they were "under pressure" from Prince Xavier of Bourbon-Parma [9], present head of the family, who "as a pretender to the throne of Spain and needing Vatican support, backed the Pope's opposition to the marriage."

Former Queen Helen of Romania [10], Michael's mother, attended the wedding, with Queen Friederike of Greece [11] and her three children [12]. Others included the Duke of Edinburgh's mother and sister, Princess Andrew of Greece [13] and Princess Sophie of Hanover [14], and the Duchess of Kent's mother and sister, Princess Nicholas of Greece [15] and Princess Olga of Yugoslavia [16].

Anne and Michael walking in Paris, March 1948 (OFF/AFP/Getty Images)

Anne and Michael are expected to honeymoon at Tatoi until next Wednesday, and then leave for Switzerland. A source close to the palace said Michael and Anne received a telegram of good wishes from Anne's parents in Denmark.

The princess once worked for two months at a department store in New York, and her mother was employed by a millinery shop there during part of her stay in the United States.

Anne and Michael during their 60th anniversary celebrations in Bucharest, 2008 (BOGDAN STAMATIN/AFP/Getty Images)


1. King Michael of Romania (born 1921) was Romania's king twice: from 1927-1930, and then again from 1940-1947. The son of King Carol II of Romania and Princess Helen of Greece and Denmark, Michael was compelled to abdicate in 1947, the year before he married Princess Anne of Bourbon-Parma, and was forced into exile. Later in his life, he was allowed to return to Romania, and since the 1990s he has lived part of the time in Switzerland and part of the time in Romania. He and Princess Anne had five daughters. The eldest is Crown Princess Margarita, who took over her father's public role after he was diagnosed with cancer in early 2016.

2. Queen Anne of Romania (1923-2016), born Princess Anne of Bourbon-Parma. She was the daughter of Prince Rene of Bourbon-Parma and Princess Margrethe of Denmark (who was the daughter of Prince Valdemar of Denmark and Princess Marie of Orleans). Her first cousins included King Boris III of Bulgaria and Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg. Anne died one year ago today, on August 1, 2016.

3. Archbishop Damaskinos Papandreou (1891-1949) was archbishop of Athens from 1941 until his death in 1949. He served as the country's regent from the end of occupation 1944 until the king's return in 1946.

4. Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and the Duke of Edinburgh, born Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, were married in London on November 20, 1947. Their introduction was arranged by her cousin, Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg; the two met at Claridge's Hotel.

5. Prince Erik, Count of Rosenborg (1890-1950) was the bride's uncle. He was the son of Prince Valdemar of Denmark and Princess Marie of Orleans. He lost his Danish princely title in 1924 when he married a Canadian commoner, Lois Booth. With the permission of the king, he subsequently used the title of His Highness Prince Erik, Count of Rosenborg.

6. King Paul of the Hellenes (1901-1964) reigned as Greece's monarch from 1947 until his death in 1964. He was the son of King Constantine I of the Hellenes and Princess Sophie of Prussia. Both of Paul's elder brothers, George and Alexander, also served as king; so did his son, Constantine. Today, Paul's grandson, Felipe, is King of Spain. King Michael was Paul's nephew; he was the son of Paul's sister, Princess Helen.

7. Prince Rene of Bourbon-Parma (1894-1962) was one of 24 children born to Robert, Duke of Parma. Rene's mother was Robert's second wife, Infanta Maria Antonia of Portugal (who was the daughter of the deposed King Miguel I of Portugal). Rene's siblings included Empress Zita of Austria and Prince Felix, husband of Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg. Rene married Princess Margrethe of Denmark in 1921, and they had four children, including Princess Anne.

8. Princess Margrethe of Denmark (1895-1992) was the daughter of Prince Valdemar of Denmark (who was a son of King Christian IX and Queen Louise of Denmark) and Princess Marie of Orleans (who was a great-granddaughter of King Louis-Philippe of France). When her parents married, they agreed to raise their sons as Lutherans and their daughters as Roman Catholics, so Margrethe became the first Danish princess in centuries to be raised as a Catholic. She married Prince Rene of Bourbon-Parma in 1921 and had four children, including Princess Anne.

9. Prince Xavier of Bourbon-Parma (1889-1977) was an uncle of the bride. He succeeded his father as the head of the House of Bourbon-Parma, and he was the Carlist pretender to the Spanish throne. His son, Prince Carlos Hugo, married Princess Irene of the Netherlands, and today their four children are members of the Dutch nobility. Xavier's grandson, Prince Jaime of Bourbon-Parma, is now the Dutch ambassador to the Vatican.

10. Helen, Queen Mother of Romania (1896-1982) was born Princess Helen of Greece and Denmark. She was the daughter of one Greek king (Constantine I) and the sister of three more (George II, Alexander, and Paul). She married Crown Prince Carol of Romania in 1921. Their only son, Michael, was born seven months later. Helen and Carol divorced in 1928. She was given the title of "Queen Mother of Romania" in 1940, during her son's second reign.

11. Queen Friederike of the Hellenes (1917-1981), born Princess Friederike of Hanover, was the wife of King Paul of the Hellenes. Her parents were Prince Ernst August of Hanover (pretender to the Hanoverian throne and the last Duke of Brunswick) and Princess Viktoria Luise of Prussia (daughter of Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany).

12. King Paul and Queen Friederike's three children were Princess Sophia of Greece and Denmark (born 1938), the wife of King Juan Carlos I of Spain and mother of King Felipe VI; King Constantine II of the Hellenes (born 1940), the country's last king and the husband of Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark; and Princess Irene of Greece and Denmark (born 1942), an former professional concert pianist.

13. Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark (1885-1969), born Princess Alice of Battenberg. She was a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and the mother of the Duke of Edinburgh.

14. Princess George of Hanover (1914-2001), born Princess Sophie of Greece and Denmark. She was the youngest daughter of Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark and Princess Alice of Battenberg, and an elder sister of the Duke of Edinburgh. Sophie was married twice, first to Prince Christoph of Hesse and then secondly to Prince George William of Hanover.

15. Princess Nicholas of Greece and Denmark (1882-1957), born Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia, was the daughter of Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich of Russia and Duchess Marie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (better known to us as Grand Duchess Vladimir). She married Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark, a son of King George I of the Hellenes, in 1902. Her youngest daughter was Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent.

16. Princess Olga of Yugoslavia (1903-1997), born Princess Olga of Greece and Denmark, was the eldest daughter of Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark and Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia. In 1923, she married Prince Paul of Yugoslavia, who served as regent during the minority of King Peter II. King George VI of the United Kingdom (then Duke of York) served as the best man at Paul and Olga's wedding.