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Carol II
Carol II of Romania.jpg
King Carol II, c. 1935
King of Romania
Reign 8 June 1930 – 6 September 1940
Predecessor Michael I
Successor Michael I
Prime Minister
Born (1893-10-15)15 October 1893
Peleș Castle, Sinaia, Kingdom of Romania
Died 4 April 1953(1953-04-04) (aged 59)
Estoril, Portuguese Riviera, Portugal
Burial Royal Pantheon,
Portugal (1953)
Curtea de Argeș Cathedral,
Romania (2003)
The New Archbishopric and Royal Cathedral in Curtea de Argeș,
Romania (2019)
Zizi Lambrino
(m. 1918; ann. 1919)

Helen of Greece and Denmark
(m. 1921; div. 1928)

(m. 1947)
Issue Carol Lambrino
Michael I of Romania
Full name
Carol Caraiman
House Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen
Father Ferdinand I of Romania
Mother Marie of Edinburgh
Religion Romanian Orthodox

Carol II (15 October 1893 [O.S. 3 October 1893] – 4 April 1953) was the King of Romania from 8 June 1930 until his forced abdication on 6 September 1940. He was the eldest son of Ferdinand I and became crown prince upon the death of his grand-uncle, King Carol I in 1914.

Early life

Carol II of Romania in 1918
Crown Prince Carol of Romania in 1918.

Carol was born in Peleș Castle, and grew up under the thumb of his dominating grand-uncle, King Carol I. King Carol I largely excluded Carol's parents, the German-born Prince Ferdinand and the British-born Crown Princess Marie, from any role in bringing him up.

The childless Carol I, who had always wanted a son, treated Prince Carol as his surrogate son and thoroughly spoiled him, indulging his every whim. His mother Marie had different views on his upbrining. Carol was caught up in an emotional tug-of-war between Carol I and Marie. Aspects of both Marie's and Carol I's personalities were present in Carol II. Largely because of the battle between the King and Marie, Carol ended being both spoiled and deprived of love.

Personal life

Carol's first marriage was to Zizi Lambrino, known as "Zizi", the daughter of a Romanian general, Constantin Lambrino. To marry her on 31 August 1918, he technically deserted his Army post during World War I. This caused a lot of controversy. The marriage was annulled on 29 March 1919 by the Ilfov County Court. Carol and Zizi continued to live together after the annulment. Their only child, Mircea Gregor Carol Lambrino, was born on 8 January 1920. Carol Lambrino was forbidden (since 1940) from entering Romanian territory, but a Romanian court declared him a legitimate son in 2003. He visited Bucharest in November 2005, shortly before his death.

After the dissolution of his marriage, Carol travelled the world. He met Princess Helen of Greece and Denmark, daughter of King Constantine I of Greece. They were second cousins, both of them great-grandchildren of Queen Victoria, as well as third cousins in descent from Nicholas I of Russia. They married on 10 March 1921 in Athens, having a child in the same year, Prince Michael.

Because of his affairs with Elena Lupescu (also known as Magda Lupescu), he was obliged to renounce his succession rights in 1925 and leave the country. His name was removed from the royal house of Romania by King Ferdinand. Carol moved to France with Lupescu, under the name Carol Caraiman. Michael, aged 5, inherited the throne on the death of King Ferdinand in 1927.

Princess Helen eventually divorced Carol in 1928.

Carol and Elena Lupescu were married in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on 3 June 1947, Elena calling herself Princess Elena von Hohenzollern.

As a king

Carol was allowed to return to Romania in 1930 due to the political crisis in the country. His name was restored by the royal house of Romania, so he dethroned his own son.

During his reign, Carol II weakened the party system. There was a lot of curruption around him.

When no party achieved an absolute majority in the December 1937 elections, he took advantage of the situation and established a royal dictatorship in 1938. Carol II removed the 1923 constitution and abolished the political parties, replacing them by a single party, the National Renaissance Front, which was patronized by the king.

When World War II started, Carol II reaffirmed the Polish–Romanian alliance. But when Poland fell, Carol II maintained a neutrality policy.

After the fall of France, Carol II tried to ally with Nazi Germany in hopes of gaining a German guarantee. Although a German guarantee was finally achieved, the situation had a disastrous effect on the reputation of Carol II.


The reorientation of Romania's foreign policy towards Nazi Germany could not save his regime. He was forced to abdicate by General Ion Antonescu, newly appointed prime minister, and was succeeded by his son Michael in September 1940.

He was allowed to leave the country with a special train loaded with fortunes. An assassination attempt was made by the Iron Guard (a Romanian militant revolutionary fascist movement), who fired on the train. After World War II, Carol II wanted to return to the helm of the country and dethrone his son again but was stopped by the Western Allies. He eventually married Elena Lupescu and died in exile.


He went into exile, initially in Mexico, but ultimately settled in Portugal. While in Portugal, he stayed in Estoril, at Casa do Mar e Sol. Carol and Lupescu settled in Mexico City, where he purchased a house in one of Mexico City's most expensive districts.

During World War II, Carol tried to set up a Free Romania movement based in Mexico to overthrow General Antonescu. Carol had hopes that his Free Romania movement would be recognized as a government-in-exile, and would ultimately lead to him being restored.

Interesting facts about Carol II of Romania

  • He was the first of the Hohenzollern kings of Romania to be born in the country; both of his predecessors had been born in Germany and came to Romania only as adults.
  • He was the first member of the Romanian branch of the Hohenzollerns who spoke Romanian as his first language.
  • He was also the first member of the royal family to be raised in the Orthodox faith.
  • Carol was a fan of football, being the Romanian Football Federation's president for almost one year from 1924 until 1925.
  • Carol deserted from the army during World War I.
  • He twice tried to give up the rights of succession to the royal crown of Romania, refused by King Ferdinand.
  • Carol acquired the "playboy" image that was his defining persona for the rest of his life.


Carol died in Estoril, on the Portuguese Riviera in 1953. His coffin was placed inside the Pantheon of the House of Braganza in Lisbon. His remains were finally returned to the Curtea de Argeș monastery in Romania in 2003, the traditional burial ground of Romanian royalty, at the request and expense of the government of Romania (led by Adrian Năstase). They initially lay outside the cathedral, the burial place of Romanian kings and queens, as Elena was not of royal blood. Neither of his sons participated in either ceremony.

He was never to see his son, King Michael, after his 1940 departure from Romania. Michael could see no point in meeting his father who had humiliated his mother so many times via his open affairs and did not attend his funeral.

In January 2018, it was announced that the remains of King Carol II would be moved to the new Archdiocesan and Royal Cathedral, along with those of Princess Helen. In addition, the remains of Prince Mircea would also be moved to the new cathedral. His remains were at the time interred at the Bran Castle's Chapel. King Carol II of Romania was reburied at the New Episcopal and Royal Cathedral in Curtea de Argeș on 8 March 2019.


Young Prince Carol's letters to his grandfather, Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, are preserved in the Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen family archive, which is in the State Archive of Sigmaringen (Staatsarchiv Sigmaringen) in the town of Sigmaringen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. There are also letters from young Carol (together with letters from his mother, Crown Princess Marie) to his great-grandmother, Josephine of Baden, preserved in the State Archive of Sigmaringen (Staatsarchiv Sigmaringen).

Carol II of Romania's letters to Zizi Lambrino as well as documents about their marriage are preserved in the "Jeanne Marie Valentine Lambrino Papers" collection in the Hoover Institution Archives (Stanford, California, USA).

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See also

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