One of the Notorious Royal Scandals: King Carol II of Romania's Love Life

King Carol II of Romania

The circumstances of why King Carol II of Romania abdicated can be compared to the scale of his second cousin, King Edward VIII's abdication crisis. It's all about women and forbidden love that stood in the way of duty. 

However, unlike his British cousin, Carol II's controversial renunciation of his rights to become king happened during his marriage to a Greek princess whom he had an only child, the future King Michael.

In 1925, he was still a Crown Prince when he removed himself from the royal House of Hohenzollern, the ruling family of Romania, renounced his rights to the throne, and lived abroad with his mistress.

Let's take a short trip down memory lane 

Scion to Europe's illustrious royal families

King Carol II was the eldest child of Queen Marie, whom Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, affectionately called "Aunt Missie". His father was King Ferdinand I of Romania.

Queen Marie was the eldest child of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh and Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, the second son of Queen Victoria of Britain and Prince Albert. Her mother was Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, daughter of Czar Alexander II.

Her first cousin, then Prince George, Duke of York, fell in love with her when she was 17 and wanted to marry her. Prince Alfred and Queen Victoria made no opposition, but her mother, the Duchess of Edinburgh, detested the British royal family, especially George's mother, Queen Alexandra . 

She did everything in her power to discourage her daughter from marrying Prince George, so she arranged Marie to marry the Crown Prince of Romania, Ferdinand and got married in 1893 at Sigmaringen Castle.

Their eldest child, Carol, was born on October 15, 1893 at Peles Castle. As King Carol I was childless, he doted his grand nephew, spoiling the young boy with everything he loved and wanted. 

This became the source of resentment of Princess Marie who wanted to raise her son the way British princes were raised in the palace - disciplined and emotionally detached.

In 1914, King Carol I, died, making Ferdinand the new king and Carol, the Crown Prince.

Series of scandalous affairs

As a young boy, Prince Carol had quite a reputation of a playboy, and he was more known for his misadventures than any leadership skills. His unconventional lifestyle was the constant source of scandals in the Romanian royal family. 

It was 20th century and royals, especially those who were in line to become monarchs, were prohibited from marrying commoners.

But Carol was unconcerned and at the young age of 19, reports had it that he fathered two illegitimate children. His flamboyant image did not surprise the public as extra marital affairs of his mother were also known and tolerated by his father.

Towards the end of World War I, where Romania sided with the Allies, Prince Carol deserted his military post to marry Zizi Lambrino, a daughter of a military officer, in 1918. He also attempted to renounce his rights to the throne but was prevented by his father, King Ferdinand.

He did not seek permission from his father prior to marriage and it was doubted also if he would be permitted to marry as the woman was a non-aristocratic commoner. So the marriage was considered invalid and Zizi was not granted a royal title.

A year later, the marriage was annulled. 

Nonetheless, Carol and Zizi continued to live together and in 1920, their only child was born, Micea Lambrino. The boy was considered illegitimate, thus, was not granted the title prince and was not included in the line of succession to the Romanian throne.

Due to the pressure of his future role as king and his father did not permit him to renounce his rights to the throne, Prince Carol broke off with Zizi and made a journey around the continent, visiting royal cousins. One of these visits paved the way of his meeting with his second cousin, Princess Helen of Greece and Denmark, daughter of King Constantine I of Greece and Queen Sophia.

Princess Helen of Greece and Denmark and Prince Carol of Romania

Prince Carol and Princess Helen were second cousins through Queen Victoria. A month after the marriage of their siblings, Crown Prince George of Greece and Princess Elisabeth of Romania, they got married on March 10,1921.

His marriage to a daughter of a king was a sigh of relief to royalists and people of Romania. At last he had settled down with a suitable woman and finally could focus on his future role as king. The couple's only son, Prince Michael was born in October 1921.

Romania's Crown Prince and Princess with their only child, Prince Michael

However, the marriage was proved to be an unhappy one as Prince Carol could not give up his philandering lifestyle. He was also a compulsive drinker and loved to be with the company of women, which irritated his family.

According to reports, Prince Carol detested the company of royal and aristocratic women because they're too formal, too dutiful and too methodical. He preferred the wild spirit, care-free life of commoners. Their dark humor, informality and liberating lifestyle fascinated him.

King Carol II and his son, Crown Prince Michael

The couple began leading a separate life, but Princess Helen remained discreet, supervising the upbringing of Prince Michael. 

Scandalous affair with Magda Lupescu

If the world thought King Edward VIII had the record of the most scandalous affair for a European monarch, people never heard about King Carol II's outrageous background.

Two years after his marriage to Princess Helen, she met the wild commoner, Magda Lupescu, not only was she married at that time, she was also a Jewish. 

Not long after that year, she divorced her husband and began an extra-martial affair with the crown prince.

Their scandalous relationship made public in 1925 and Magda was the subject of hate and public humiliation in Romania and was being attack by her Jewish ancestry.

This affair would drag down the Romanian royal family into its lowest point as Carol and his mistress were always the subjects of gossip and criticism in public. 

Preventing the throne of plunging down to the pit of shame, King Ferdinand finally agreed that his heir must renounce his right to the throne in favor of the young Prince Michael.

In December 1925, after attending the funeral of Queen Alexandra in Britain, Prince Carol joined Magda Lupescu in Italy and their union was splashed to every newspaper in Italy and Romania.

Renunciation of birth rights

Prince Carol not only renounced his right to the Romanian throne but also removed himself as member of the royal family and the House of Hohenzollern. 

A month later, in January 1926, his renunciation to the throne was officially ratified by the Romanian parliament. He was banned from returning to Romania and forced to live in exile with his mistress. His divorce from Princess Helen was only granted in 1928. At that time their son, Michael, already ascended the Romanian throne.

On July 20, 1927, King Ferdinand I died, his grandson, Prince Michael, who was only five years old at the time, ascended the throne as Michael I. 

Since he was only a young boy, the throne was ruled by Regents, the head being his uncle, Prince Nicholas, younger brother of Prince Carol.

However, Nicholas and other Regents were inexperienced handling the affairs of the state and lacked the strength of a head of state possessed by Carol. 

Seized the throne and Dictatorial 

To save the monarchy from crumbling, the Regents and the Romanian government were forced to make peace with Prince Carol and persuaded him to return to the country. 

Though still unverified and unsubstantiated, Prince Carol was only to return to Romania as head of the Regency of his son and not to reclaim the throne, and that he would give up Magda Lupescu.

Unknown to the parliament, he intended to keep the throne and his mistress. 

On June 7, 1930, he returned to Romania with the overwhelming support of its government. His renunciation invalidated by the parliament and he seized the throne from his son, who was oblivious of the situation because he was only eight years old.

Carol declared king on June 8, 1930. 

However, his reign would soon adopt the monarchical dictatorship and authoritarian rule. Though he promoted the development of modern economy and cultural initiatives, he gradually undermined the fragile Romanian democracy.

Around this time, his mistress followed him in Romania and went to live with him, the country sank deeper into political chaos, dictatorship, instability and scandals.

In 1938, he abolished the parliamentary democracy and declared himself as dictator. Lupescu became one of the forces behind his erratic and often hostile decisions. Corruption and political turmoil rose to unprecedented level. 

Carol II and his mistress became the master manipulators of Romanian politics as they handled the affair of the state ruthlessly, accumulating immense fortune.

The fall of King Carol II

With the invasion of France, Romania's only strong ally, by Hitler's army in 1940 during World War II, King Carol II lost its strongest ally. Completely surrounded by enemies with its economy on the verge of collapse, the king was forced to abdicate in September 1940.

He left Romania with his mistress aboard a train, escaping to Spain, Portugal and finally Mexico. In 1944 they moved to Brazil and got married in 1947. She was created by her husband, Princess Elena of Romania, though the House of Hohenzollern in Romania refused to consider it as official. 

His son became King Michael in 1940 and at 19, he needed no regent to reign on his own. However, he was only monarch by name, the country was governed by a dictator and some political monsters created by his father.

King Michael of Romania

King Michael began the process of overturning the dictatorship of his father and tried to stir back the country into democracy, but he was only considered as the country's figurehead and could not do anything to influence the government, which was under communism.

He tried to suppress abuses and corruption and tried to destroy the authoritarian rule but he was at odd with the USSR and the head of the Romanian government.

King Michael's forced abdication

On November 20, 1947, King Michael traveled to London to attend the wedding of his cousins, Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip. It was in the said event also that he met his future wife, Princess Ana of Bourbon-Parma, his second cousin through King Christian IX of Denmark. 

Within his return to Romania, he was put under house arrest.

In December that year, he was forced to abdicate at gun point. And after the threat of killing all students demonstrators who were imprisoned in the capital, King Michael was forced to sign his declaration of abdication. 

Upon hearing his son's fate, Carol tried to intervene by contacting Stalin in USSR for a possible agreement. He was being refused.

King Michael fled Romania with his mother and slipped to Greece where he married Princess Ana in Athens in 1948. He would never be allowed to return to Romania until five decades later. They settled first in England then moved to Switzerland where he worked as a commercial pilot.

Death of a disgraced king

King Carol II and Magda Lupescu permanently settled in Portugal where he died in 1953 from heart attack. He was buried in the capital but was transferred to Romania in 2003 together with the remains of Lupescu who died in 1977.

The couple had no children.


More than a series of scandal over his careless decision taking unsuitable partners, King Carol II left a scar of instability to his already politically unstable country. 

His son tried to guide back Romania into a constitutional monarchy under democratic principles, but the deep wounds of division, hostility and political turmoil he created and the monsters of politicians he helped developed were so massive, King Michael cost his throne.

King Michael wed Princess Ana in Athens in 1948 in Athens
King Michael and Queen Ana in later years

Romania thoroughly became a communist country until the fall of USSR in 1991. However, King Michael did not recover his lost throne and glory. He was only allowed to return back to Romania in 1993 and recovered most of  his properties and palaces sequestered by the communist in 1947.

King Michael died in December 2017 in Switzerland and was taken back to Romania for a state funeral by Romania fit for a king, recognizing his contribution to stir back the country into democracy. 

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