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Carol II of Romania

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Carol II of Romania (1893-1953) reigned as King of Romania from June 8, 1930 until September 6, 1940. Eldest son of Ferdinand von Hohenzollern, King of Romania, and his wife, Princess Marie of Edinburgh, who was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria of Great Britain and also of Czar Alexander II of Russia.

Known more for his romantic misadventures than for any leadership skills, Carol (Romanian for Charles) first married in Odessa, Ukraine, August 31, 1918, in contravention of royal law, Joanna Marie Valentina Lambrino, aka Zizi (1898-1953), daughter of a Romanian general; they had one son, Mircea Gregor Carol Lambrino, and the marriage was annulled by royal decree in 1919. He next married, in Athens, Greece, on (March 10, 1921), Princess Helena of Greece and Denmark, but the marriage soon collapsed in the wake of the king's affair with Elena Wolf (aka Magda Lupescu, 1895-1977), a daughter of a Jewish pharmacist and former wife of Army officer Ion Tampenu. As a result of the scandal, he renounced his right to the throne in December 1925 in favour of his son by Helena, Michael, who became King in July 1927. Carol and Helena were divorced in 1928.

Returning to the country unexpectedly on June 7, 1930, Carol was proclaimed king the following day. For the next decade he sought to influence the course of Romanian political life, first through manipulation of the rival Peasant and Liberal parties and anti-semitic factions, and subsequently (January 1938) through a ministry of his own choosing, with a constitution (February 27) reserving ultimate power to the crown.

Forced under first Soviet and subsequently Hungarian pressure to surrender parts of his kingdom to foreign rule, he was outmanoevred at last by the pro-German admninistration of Marshal Ion Antonescu, and abdicated in favour of Michael, settling ultimately in Portugal. He and Magda Lupescu were married in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on June 3, 1947, whereupon she was known as Princess Elena von Hohenzollern.

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