Royals have always been the centre of attention.
Kings and queens, princes and princesses have always been in the spotlight. Leaders in general have been in the attention of ordinary people because, according to a social theory, change in society is initiated by the elites. Royals are regarded as privileged people, who have everything they want. Very few people see royals as having a daily life similar to theirs.
The Romanian Royal House, in its 80 years of existence, had various typologies of rulers. After the communist government forced King Mihai I to abdicate on December 30, 1947 and go into exile, an expert team was given the task to make an inventory of all his belongings. The team was made up of experts, historians, art critics and members of the communist party. Art historian Radu Bogdan, member of the communist party before 1945, was part of that team. Interviewed in 1995 by the Oral History Centre of the Romanian Radio Broadcasting Corporation, Bogdan said that the occasion he had at the time, to enter the royal palace and see everything that had belonged to the Royal Family was in fact a chance to find out how the everyday life of the Romanian crowned heads had been like.
The first place he entered was the Peles Castle in Sinaia: ”I found the archive at the Peles Castle, which was very impressive. My main focus in the upcoming months was to see what it was about. I read a lot and I was eager to know everything. It was an extraordinary experience. I spent my high school years in a society that had a cult for King Carol II, nicknamed the voivode of Romanian culture, and my childhood was quite marked by his presence. Having the intimate palace journals in my hands, I had access to history from the inside, a secret history which was extraordinary. ”
Unlike what some may imagine, what I found at the Peles Castel was close to the normal cultural standards that any Romanian could have had access to. Radu Bogdan: ”The library of the Peles Castle was not that impressive. I liked more the library at Bran Castel, which had books with the autograph of Queen Victoria. That was no common thing. There were a few luxury editions. At Peles Castle, there were many books published by the Royal Foundations. The first book out a series of 50, published by the Royal Foundations, went to Carol II and the second one to Prince Mihai I. Some books had the autograph of the author, who was obviously unaware of the fact that no autograph is allowed to be given to a sovereign. The King of England, for instance, does not give autographs and no author is allowed to write anything on a book sent to him.”
Once in the royal palaces, Radu Bogdan stepped into a fabulous world, who was nevertheless dominated by a daily routine. He found a personal notebook of King Carol II in which he wrote daily. He also found documents that helped him understand just how normal the lives of the people who ruled a country were. Unfortunately, the ideological ferocity led to the destruction of valuable objects, as Radu Bogdan noticed: ”The communists did everything in their power to annihilate the monarchy cult, and showed zero respect for memory and monarchy. For instance, they quickly changed everything in the office of King Carol I, who had so far been kept untouched since the day of his death. They even erased autographs from the books, before sending them to various libraries in Bucharest. Everything contrary to the idea of monarchy was attempted. Interior decorations, objects and furniture related to monarchy were all vandalised. ”
Radu Bogdan was particularly impressed with the everyday life of the Romanian royals: ”What is interesting is that monarchy itself did not keep its documents in order. They were kept in all sort of boxes. I am not sure if documents were also kept in hat boxes, but there were many square boxes and some of them had a locker. Most boxes, however, were unlocked. The only one locked was the box with the diaries of Queen Mary. Petitions from mad people, letters from historian Nicolae Iorga or writer Octavian Goga and letters from diplomats and crowned heads were all kept in the same place.”
Royals have always had a daily life of their own, and that can clearly be seen today. Unfortunately, in the case of Romanian royals, this daily life was made public in the harshest way possible. (EE)