Princess Elena of Romania was in London last week attending a couple of events on behalf of the Romanian Royal Family linked with the celebrations of her father, King Michael’s 95th birthday. The first was at the launch of a book detailing the history of the Royal Victorian Order written by Professor Peter Galloway; Chaplain to the Royal Victorian Order, and Chaplain to the Queen’s Chapel of the Savoy. King Michael at 95 is the oldest holder of the Grand Cross of the Victorian Order (as an Honourary Knight). The award was presented to him by King George VI in 1937.
The Royal Victorian Order was formed by Queen Victoria towards the end of her reign in 1896 and unlike the Order of the Garter, there are no limits as to the number of contemporary recipients. It is the gift of the Monarch and not the subject of the recommendation of the government of the time. The award is not restricted to members of Royal families, in fact, one of the earliest recipients was the Mayor of Nice. The Order is celebrated on 20th June, the anniversary of Queen Victoria’s accession to the throne, and the Order Chapel is The Chapel of the Savoy in London, though due to space issues the four-yearly gatherings are now held at St George’s Chapel, Windsor.
Princess Elena’s second engagement, together with her husband, Mr. Alexander Nixon, was the at the Romanian Cultural Institute to see and exhibition about King Michael’s life and hear talks by Professor Galloway, Romanian film-maker John Florescu, and Professor of Architecture, Augustin Ioan. The exhibition had been created with the support of the National Archives of Romania and included some rare pictures of the King. The evening concluded with a showing of “Kings War”, a film by John Florescu showing King Michael’s struggles to save Romania from military dictator Ion Antonescu in August 1944.
The Princess has worked on various projects for helping the people of Romania recover from the Ceausescu regime and now splits her time between her estate in County Durham and the Elisabeta Palace in Bucharest where her elder sister Crown Princess Margarethe and Prince Radu live. She is second in line to the Crown Princess who currently does not have any children.