What better way to celebrate Presidents’ Day?(Hail, hail Freedonia!)
Today is as good a day as any to reflect on our form of governance. Say what you will about the tawdry spectacle provided by the current political season, it sure as hell beats living under a monarchy. (Which we don’t have, despite Jeb Bush’ lurking in the wings awaiting a presidential nod from a brokered convention, and, more locally, Joseph P.Kennedy the Whatever (Jr? III? IV?) deciding that the U.S. Congress isn’t a bad choice for a first run at elective office.)
After all, a system that gave us Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelts TR and FDR strikes me as infinitely superior to one that offers up claimants to the throne of countries like Romania.
Not that I have anything against Romania, which is something of an ancestral homeland.
Although she was German, my mother was, in fact, born in Romania, in a German town that, after WW I, had been realigned out of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and into the Land of the Vampire.
But I have never harbored any romantic ideas about what Romania might be like. My mother’s family emigrated when she was a toddler, and any residual family was more or less drop-kicked back into Germany after WW II. So pretty much everything I know about Romania comes from reading about the brutal and, if they weren’t so brutal, brutally nonsensical lives of the Ceauşescus – Nicolae and Elena – who, thanks to an assist from The People, slipped the surly bonds of earth more than 20 years ago.
My only current mental images of Romania are crappily constructed Soviet era cement apartment buildings, and Count Dracula, fangs and all, swooping around a forest.
If I were in the neighborhood in and around Arad, Romania, I would drop in on my mother’s hometown of Neue Banat – these days known by it’s Romanian name of Panatul-Nou – to say howdy. But it’s extremely unlikely that I’ll ever be in and around Arad, Romania.
Still, when I see Romania in the news I generally have a “hail, hail, Freedonia” moment. Especially if the news is about Romanian royalty.
This week’s news from home is that Prince Paul Hohenzollern has been declared by no less an illustrious outfit than the country’s highest court as the legitimate grandson of King Carol II – not to be confused with Carole King: no relation – and thus entitled to something that’s not quite clear. (Source: AP article on boston.com)
It doesn’t sound like this will put much of any royal conniption hoo-hah to rest, as his uncle, the former King Michael has indicated that the ruling means bupkis.
The 90-year-old Michael, who was forced to abdicate by the communists in 1947, says Tuesday's ruling does not give Paul any claims to the throne.
This battle over the non-throne throne has been brewing for a good long time.
Prince Paul was considered not-so-legit because his grandfather – that would be King Carol II – had done a no-no and married one Romanian Zizi Lambrino, when “by law Romania's heir to the throne was obliged to marry a foreign princess.”
So that marriage was, alas, annulled. But not before Prince Paul’s father was born.
After the annulment from Zizi, King Carol did what he was legally required to do and went ahead and married a Greek princess, who gave the world King Michael.
Well, what with the marriages and remarriages, the abdications and the renouncements, the Nazis and the Communists, this is a pretty complex tale – a lot more involved than King Edward and Wallis Simpson, especially if you leave out the Nazi sympathies, the kinky sex, and the cabochon rubies.
Anyway, Michael was last King Michael in 1947, when:
He abdicated after Romanian Communists threatened to kill 1,000 young Romanians if he did not renounce the throne.
Which, all and all, seems like a better reason than “for the woman I loved.”
Anyway, whether Paul ends up with anything other than the honor of having been declared legit, it’s been a big, big, BIG couple of years for him. In 2010, at age 62, he had his first child – a son named Carol. (Am I alone in thinking that one of the worst things you can do to a boy is give him a girl’s name? But, what do I know, I’m not royalty.)
In December 2011, Hohenzollern was named "Ambassador of Romanian-Chinese Friendship" in Beijing. (Source: Wikipedia.)
To top it all off, he’s now the Prince of Romania.
Well played, Prince Paul.
Meanwhile, King Carol II, whose misplaced marriage to Zizi Lambrino set this whole thing off, died in Portugal in 1953. Fifty years later, his body was exhumed and reinterred in good old Romania.
No record of whether Prince Paul attended, but his father was still alive. He couldn’t go because in 1940 he had been forbidden to enter Romanian territory, a prohibition that I believe most of us could live with.
King Michael did not attend, either, but he did send as his emissary his daughter, Princess Margarita, and her husband Radu Duda, who was named Prince of Hohenzollern-Veringen after his marriage to Princess Margarita. (Source, again, Wikipedia.)
You can’t make this stuff up. But you don’t have to, as long as there’s Romanian royalty – and names like Radu Duda – out there.
Anyway, happy Presidents’ Day to all, especially to our incumbent and the ex-presidents (Jimmy Carter, George Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush) still around to enjoy “their day.”
It all makes me want to go out and chop down a cherry tree…
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