It's said that a really good wedding should always lead to another. The Queen's wedding, on November 20th 1947, was a real cracker and in true romantic tradition another marriage followed as a result. But while the regal lovebirds might have been happy ever after with each other, it was very far from a complete royal fairytale. For the monarchical marriage made in Westminster Abbey that winter's day was that of Michael and Anne of Romania.
This was a love match with more than its fair dose of drama. The couple had been known to each other for a while before their meeting but Cupid got a chance to fire his arrow in very unusual circumstances. When Anne arrived in London for the royal wedding, she popped into Claridge's to see her parents and found Michael there. She made her excuses as soon as she could but the deal was done. The couple ended up spending plenty of time together and a proposal followed within weeks.
The bride was far from a stereotypical princess despite her very royal pedigree. Anne Antoinette Francoise Charlotte Zita Marguerite of Bourbon-Parma had been born on September 18th 1923 in Paris, daughter of Prince Rene of Bourbon-Parma and Princess Margaret of Denmark. She was a great granddaughter of King Christian IX of Denmark and of the controversial King Miguel I of Portugal among others. But her old world ancestry had given way to a very modern existence. For Anne had fled France in 1939 as World War Two began but in 1943 joined the French Army where she served in Algeria, Morocco and liberated Germany. She was given the Croix de Guerre.
The groom had had a no less interesting life. Michael of Romania was born on October 25th 1921 in Peles Castle, son of the heir to the throne, Prince Carol, and his second wife, Princess Elena. But within years, the couple had separated and Carol gave up his rights to the throne to live with a mistress, Magda Lupescu. Not long afterwards, in 1927, Michael became King of Romania on the death of his grandfather, King Ferdinand, only to see his dad return and claim the throne in 1930. Michael became king for a second time in 1940 when his father was deposed by Ion Antonescu. In 1944, Michael staged a coup against Antonescu and joined Romania to the Allies as World War Two continued. After the war, his country came under the rule of the pro-Soviet government of Petru Groza and by the time Michael left for London to attend the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip, his country was in turmoil.
Falling in love would prove to be just a momentary distraction from his political worries. Just weeks after returning to Romania from London, Michael was forced to abdicate and went into exile days later. It was there that the couple planned their wedding. They needed a dispensation from the Pope but none came and so, when they did say 'I do' on June 10th 1948, it was at an Eastern Orthodox ceremony that took place in the Throne Room of the Royal Palace in Athens. The bride's parents ended up staying away on the advice of her uncle who was in charge of the family at the time.
This royal wedding should have turned the bride into Queen of Romania and in a nod to her new royal role, Anne wore the tiara that her mother in law had used for her own marriage. But there was no coronation or regal celebration following the wedding. Instead, Michael and Anne moved to England where they began their family before settling in Switzerland. It would be decades before they were ever allowed into Romania again.