Elizabeth of Romania, Queen of Greece

Elizabeth of Romania c. 1921, postcard from the Wartengurg Trust (source)

Elizabeth of Romania c. 1921, postcard from the Wartengurg Trust (source)

Elizabeth of Romania, Queen consort of the Hellenes, was born on Oct 12. 1894. She was the daughter of Ferdinand of Romania and his wife Marie. Although Ferdinand was Catholic, Elizabeth was baptized in the Orthodox Church of her country prompting the excommunication of Ferdinand from the Catholic Church. Her mother was formerly Marie of Edinburgh and Elizabeth was raised with a British nurse, governess and tutors. She was an avid reader and especially liked botany and flowers.

Elizabeth’s education came to a halt during WWI. She and her mother and sister, Mignon, worked as nurses in hospitals in Moldova during the war and Elizabeth spent what spare time she had making drawings and paintings that were sold for the war relief effort. After the war, she spent time in Paris studying music and painting before a suitable marriage was arranged.

On February 27, 1921, Elizabeth married the future George II of Greece. There was genuine affection between the two, but Elizabeth was often homesick and lonely. The political situation was shaky in Greece at the time, both in its relationship with Turkey and domestically. George was away at the front often and Elizabeth’s health was precarious. In September 1922, George became king when his father was forced to abdicate. The situation remained unstable and her reign as queen ended when she and George were also forced into exile in December of 1923.

The couple went into exile in Romania, but George spent a good deal of time in England and the couple eventually grew apart, divorcing in 1935. Elizabeth asked for the restoration of her Romanian citizenship and at least for a time lived a quiet life as a princess. She was finally able to have a life-long dream fulfilled, that of owning her own home where she could decorate and garden as she wished. She also worked with children, establishing a hospital and home for children in Bucharest.

Elizabeth’s nephew, Michael I, now King of Romania, overthrew the pro-German government placing Romania on the side of the Allies during WWII, but following the war there was increasing involvement in the government by the Soviet Union. Finally, on December 30, 1947, Michael was forced to abdicate and Elizabeth found herself once again in exile. This time to France where she died at Cannes on November 15, 1956.

Find out what else happened on October 12 in Women’s History.

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