It will be a personal tribute to a very public figure. The ceremonies marking the reburial of Helen, Queen Mother of Romania later this month will put family at the heart of the commemorations.
Helen, who died in November 1982 in Switzerland, was laid to rest in Lausanne as her royal family was then banned from entering Romania. On October 18th 2019, her coffin will be brought to her adopted country and she will be buried there the following day.
Commemorations will begin at Otopeni Airport where a Romanian Air Force plane will land at around noon, carrying the Queen Mother’s coffin. Romania’s Royal Family, headed by Margareta, Custodian of the Crown, will attend military and religious ceremonies at Otopeni marking Helen’s final journey home.
The coffin will then be driven from Otopeni to Curtea de Arges. The cortege will slow down as it passes through towns and villages to allow people to pay their respects. In the late afternoon of October 18th, Helen’s coffin will be carried into the Old Cathedral of Curtea de Arges where her family will pay their own tributes behind closed doors. Then, at around 5.15 local time, the doors of the church will be opened to allow the public to pay their respects.
Flowers will be left in front of the church with the Romanian Royal Family asking for white blooms as a tribute to Queen Mother Helen. There will be another chance for the public to file past her coffin on the morning of October 19th 2019 between 8am and 10am. After that, final preparations will take place for the funeral service of Queen Mother Helen which will start at noon. The ceremony takes place in the Old Episcopal and Royal Cathedral in Curtea de Arges.
Following the service, the Queen Mother’s coffin will be conveyed in a military and religious procession to the New Episcopal and Royal Cathedral where Helen will be laid to rest just after 1pm. Her family will attend the ceremony with the public invited into the area in front of the new Cathedral to pay their own respects.
Helen was born a Princess of Greece and Denmark in 1896 and married Carol, Crown Prince of Romania in 1921. Her marriage disintegrated soon after the birth of the couple’s son, Michael, who succeeded as king in 1927 after his father gave up his rights to the throne. Carol later changed his mind and became King of Romania but Helen’s union with him was already ended and her husband refused her the title of queen then sent her into exile. When Carol was forced to abdicate, Helen returned to Romania and was given the title of ‘Queen Mother’.
During World War Two she battled to save Romanian Jews from Nazi concentration camps. When King Michael was forced to give up his throne in 1947, Helen accompanied him to Switzerland where she spent much of the rest of her life. In 1993, eleven years after her death, Helen was given the title of ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ by Isreal for her work to save the Jewish community during World War Two.