Romanian Royalty: Ferdinand I

Figure 1.--Crown Prince Ferndinand and Princess of Romania and three of their children: Prince Carol, Princess Marie, Prince Nicolas And Primcess Elizabeth. The photo was taken in 1906-07. Note that Prince Nicolas still wears a delecate lacey dress like his older sister.

Ferdinand I (1865-1927) was born Ferdinand Victor Albert Meinrad Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. His parents were Leopold Hohenzollern and Antonia Saxe-Coburg. He was born at Sigmaringen, Baden-Wurttemberg in Germany. He succeeded his uncle Carol I who died without a male heir in 1914. This could not have been a worse time to inherit the throne as it was the year World War I broke out in Europe. Ferdinand married in 1893 at age 27 to Mary Saxe-Coburg, age 17. The children included Carol II (King of Romania), Elizabeth Hohenzollern, Ileana Hohenzollern, Mary Hohenzollern, Mircea Hohenzollern, and Nicholas Hohenzollern. While at first declaring neutrality in World War I, Romania finally joined the Allies in 1916 despite the family relationship to the Germans. Romania suffered some serious defeats during the war, but in the post-war settlement gainedf territory. King Ferdinand died in 1927 at the age of 62 at Sinaia, Romania.



Ferdinand's father was Leopold Hohenzollern, a son of Charles Anthony Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. He was made Prince of Romania when his younger brother became King Carol I of Romania. I do not yet know who Prince Charles's father was. I also am unsure why Leopold's younger brother Carol was chosen to be Prince then King of Romania instead of Leopold.


Ferdinand's mother was Antonia Saxe-Coburg. She was the daughter of Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, King Consort of Portugal (1816- ) and Queen Maria II de Bragança of Portugal (1819- ).


Ferdinand had two brothers. Ferdinand was the middle brother. I am not sure why the oldest brother William did not suceed their Uncle Carol I.

William (1864-1927

William of Hohenzollern was born in 1864. He married Maria Theresia de Bourbon in 1889. They had one daughter Auguste Victoria de Hohenzollern who was born in 1890. I do not have the details at this time as to why William did not succeed his Uncle Carol as king instead of his yonger brother Ferdinand.

Charles Anthony (1868- )

Charles Anthony Hohenzollern was born in 1868. He married Josephine of Belgium in 1894. She was the daughter of Philip, Count of Flanders. They had three children, Marie Antoinette, Stephanie, and Albrecht. Charles Anthony died in 1919 immediately after World War I. We have no details on the children at this time.


Ferdinand I (1865-1927) was born Ferdinand Victor Albert Meinrad Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen at Sigmaringen, Baden-Wurttemberg in Germany.


Ferdinand married at age 27 to Mary Saxe-Coburg, better known as Marie of Edinburgh (1893). She was only 17 years old. Marie was born in 1875. She was the daughter of English Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh and Saxe-Coburg. Her mother was the Russian Princess Grand Duchess Marie Alexandrovna Romanav. She was known as Missy within the family. The English Prince George was quite smitten with her. Much to the relief of Princess of Wales Alexandra who did not like Marie, Missy wanted nothing to do with him. [Battiscombe, p. 193.] She decided to marry instead Prince Ferdinand. I am not sure why she chose the Romanian crown over the English crown, presumably it was a question of the heart.


Ferdinand had six children. There were three boys and three girls. Only the boys could inherit the throne. The children included the future Carol II (King of Romania), Elizabeth Hohenzollern, Ileana Hohenzollern, Marie Hohenzollern, Mircea Hohenzollern, and Nicholas Hohenzollern. We know very little about their childhood or about their childhood relationshios. We do know that as adults there was condiderable animosity between Ferdinabnd's children. King Carol essentially expelled both Princess Illena and Prince Nicholas. Carol would be involved in scandal. He and his son Michael would then be caught up in the tragedy of World War II. The girls married well, two became queens. Of all the children, the youngest Princess was the most impressive. She married into the Hapsburg royal family.

Carol (1893-1953)

Crown Prince Carol was born Charles Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen at Sinaia, Romania (1893). . His father was Ferdinand, King of Romania and his mother Mary Saxe-Coburg. The family was of German origin, the Hohenzollern were the Prussian ruling house and the ruling family of the new German Empire. Presumably the clothes selected for the children reflected the styles commonly worn in Germany. As eldest son, Carol was in line to inherit the throne. He became involved in scandal, however, and was forced to reninciate in favor of his infant son. He later changed his mind an returned to Romania to regain the criown.

Elisabeth (1894-1956)

Princess Elisabeth was born (1894), the eldest princess. We have no information about her childhood, but given her age must have been close to Prince Carol. Elisabeth was apparentky a bob-vivant. She is known to have had numerous affairs, both befiore and after her marriage. One notable affair ocurred before her marriage with the acting U.K. High Commissioner in Constantinople, Frank Rattigan. (he was the father of noted playwright Terence Rattigan.) As aesult, she became pregnant and decided to have an abortion to preserve her reputation and marriageability. Rattigan was expelled from the British diplomatic service. Elisabeth despite the affair married Crown Prince Geoorge of Greece in Bucharest (1921). It is commonly thought that Prince George's uncle, the ex-Kaisser Wilhelm II from the Netherlands, played a role in arranging the marriage. King Constantine I of Greece gave Elisabeth his castle of Tatos and bestowed the title Duchess of Sparta upon his daughter-in-law. She was queen consort (1922-23) after which the royal couple had to flee Greece and live in exile. The marriage failed and they divorced (1935). George was restored to his throne during the same year. Eisabeth returned to Romania until the country was invaded by the Soviets duruing World War II. The resulting Communist Government abolished the monarchy. Elisabeth died in Cannes, France (1956).

Nicholas (1895-1978)

Prince Nicholas was the second son. He was born in Peleş Castle, Sinaia (1895). We have no information about his childhood. Nicholas' older brother, Crown Prince Carol, was the heir apparent. As aesult of a scandal, Prince Carol renounced his rights of succession (1925). As a result When King Ferdinand died (1927), he was succeeded by Prince Carol's 5 year-old son, Michael. Some Romanians had proposed Nicholas earlier as a more suitable heir when Prince Carol married the commoner Zizi Lambrino (1918), a marriage that was later annulled. Because of King Michael's youth, a regency council was formed. Prince Nicholas had to abandon his career in the British Royal Navy and return to Romania and serve on the regency council which also included Gheorghe Buzdugan and Patriarch Miron Cristea. His title was the "the first-ranking regent", Prince Nicholas had, however, no real interest in politics and was unhappgy about having to give up his Royal Navy career.

Marie (1900-61)

Princess Marie was an excellent student and well educated. She spoke several languages. She married King Alexander of Yugoslavia (1922). She was noted for humanitrian work as Queen and Queen mother. After the assasination of King Alexander (1934), Queen Marie became Queen Mother and participated in the regency of her eldest son who became King Peter II. The royal family fled Yugoslaviahen the Germsns invaded (1941)

Ileana (1909-91)

Princess Ileana was born much later than the royal couple's first four (1909). She was the royal couple's youngest daughter. There were rumors that the King Ferdinand was not her father. We have no information about her childhood. We know that as a oung woman she took an interest in Girl Guiding and help found the Romanian Girl Guide Movement. Ileana married the Archduke Anton of Austria, Prince of Tuscany (1931). King Carol II, her brother, encouraged the marriage. He was apparently jealous of his sister's popularity with the Romanian people and decided it would be best to get her out of the country. Anton was the seventh of ten children of Archduke Leopold Salvator of Austria, Prince of Tuscany and Infanta Blanca of Spain, daughter of Carlos, Duke of Madrid. As a result of the marriage, she was inherited impressive titles. Shee was known as Her Imperial and Royal Highness, Ileana, Archduchess of Austria, Princess Imperial of Austria, Princess Royal of Hungary and Bohemia, Princess of Tuscany, Princess of Romania, Princess of Hohenzollern. After the marriage, he changed his tome and proclaimed that the Romanian people would never tolerate a Habsburg living in the ciuntry. (Romanian fought with the Allies during World War I against Hapburg Austria-Hungary. This of course was rediculous as Carol was himself of German ancestry. He refused to allow his suster and and Anton to live in Romania. They lived in Austria where she became active in the Austrian Girl Guide movement. This ended after the Anschluss and the NAZIs banned both the Boy Scouts and the Girl Guides (1938). Her husband was conscripted into the Luftwaffe. Germany forced Romania into the Axis (1940). Ileana during the War opened a a hospital for wounded Romanian soldiers at their castle, Sonneburg, outside Vienna, Austria.

Mircea (1913-16)

Mircea was the third of three boys. Prince Mircea died of typhoid duing World War I at Buftea Palace, the home of the Ştirbey family (Autumn 1916). King Ferdinand's wife was reportedly adulterous in later years of their marriage. Prince Mircea is widely believed to have been the biological child of Prince Barbu Ştirbey. King Ferdinand to avoid scandal accepted Mircea as his own son. Mircea's brother, Crown Prince Carol, and his first wife Zizi Lambrino named their first son Mircea (Michael) in memory of their infant brother.


Ferdinand succeeded his uncle Carol I who died without a male heir in 1914. This could not have been a worse time to inherit the throne as it was the year World War I broke out in Europe.

World War I

Despite the familial relationship between the Romanian royal family and the German royal family, King Ferdinand I declared Romania as a neutral country when World War I started in 1914. When the allies promissed support for all Romanian provinces reunification (1916), Romania joined the War beside the Allies even though the army wasn't strong enough or well enough equipped to face a modern army. As a result of this, following the first successes recorded against the Austro-Hungarian army, they were forced to retreat into Moldavia where, together with the Russian troups organized the defense. There were some memorable battles like the one from Marasesti and Oituz won by a small but courageous army against the undefetead German army led by Marshal Von Mackensen. But Russians signed a separate peace treaty (March 1918) with the Central Powers, and even though the Allies tried to send equipment and instructors, Romania was forced to do the same thing. So, in May 1918, Romania signed a peace treaty, but in October, same year reentered thewar and participated at the final victory. Once again, there was a chance to fulfill the old dream - reunification of all Romanian Provinces into a single independent state, and the Romanians didn't loose it. The Country Council of Bassarabia voted to be unified with Romania (March 27/April 9, 1918), the National Council of Bukovina voted to unite that province to Romania ( November 15/28, 1918) while Transylvania voted on December 1, 1918 (at Cimpia Islaz) to join the rest of the Country. For the first time since Michael the Brave, all Romanian Provinces were unified into one body.


King Ferdinand died in 1927 at the age of 62 at Sinaia, Romania. He was succeded by his son Carol (1893-1953)


Battiscombe, Georgina. Queen Alexandra (Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1969).


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Created: June 7, 2002
Last updated: 10:26 PM 7/27/2011