Friday, November 15, 2019

The 69th Birthday of Princess Helen of Romania, Progenitor of the Royal House's Future

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Today, Princess Helen of Romania celebrates her sixty-ninth birthday.

The birth of Princess Helen of Romania as announced in the press
(1950)
King Michael and Queen Anne of Romania with their daughters, Princesses Margarita and Helen
(1953)
Princess Helen of Romania was born at the Clinique de Montchoisi in Lausanne, Switzerland, on 15 November 1950 as the second daughter of King Michael of Romania and Queen Anne (née Bourbon-Parma). Her godmothers were her paternal grandmother Queen Mother Helen of Romania (née Greece and Denmark) and Queen Mary of the United Kingdom (née Teck). Helen was preceded by an older sister, Princess Margarita (b.1949), and was followed by three sisters: Princess Irina (b.1953), Princess Sophie (b.1957), and Princess Marie (b.1964).

King Michael of Romania with his daughter Princess Helen on her wedding day
(Lausanne, 1983)
The wedding of Dr. Robin Medforth-Mills and Princess Helen of Romania
(Lausanne, 1983)
In 1983, Princess Helen of Romania married Dr. Robin Medforth-Mills (1942-2002), who worked for the United Nations a great deal of his life. Their wedding was attended by King Constantine II of Greece and his wife Queen Anne-Marie. Helen's bridesmaids included her youngest sister Princess Marie, her cousins Princess Alexia of Greece and Denmark and Princess Mafalda of Savoy, and also Fabiola Fruchaud. Other guests at the wedding were her maternal grandmother Princess Margrethe of Bourbon-Parma (née Denmark), her maternal uncles Prince Michel of Bourbon-Parma and Prince André, her maternal cousins Prince Phillipe and Princess Lorraine of Bourbon-Parma, Queen Ingrid of Denmark, Queen Marie José of Italy and her daughter Princess Maria Pia, Queen Sofía of Spain and her daughter Infanta Cristina of Spain, Prince Amedeo, Duke of Aosta with his children Prince Aimone and Princess Bianca of Savoy, Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece and Prince Nikolaos of Greece and Denmark, and Prince Leopold of Baden.

The baptism of Nicholas of Romania
(left to right) King Michael, Crown Princess Margarita, Queen Anne, Princess Helen holding her son Prince Nicholas, and Dr. Robin Medforth-Mills
King Michael and Queen Anne of Romania with their family
(left to right) Princess Sophie, Queen Anne, King Michael, Princess Margarethe of Bourbon-Parma, Dr. Robin Medforth-Mills, Princess Helen with her son Nicholas
Dr. Robin Medforth-Mills and Princess Helen of Romania with their children, Nicholas and Karina, in 1990.
Photograph (c) Terry Smith/Getty Images
Helen of Romania and Dr. Medforth-Mills had two children: Nicholas (b.1985) and Karina (b.1989). Nicholas's godparents were Queen Anne (his maternal grandmother) and Princess Margarita (his maternal aunt). Karina's godmother was the British novelist Catherine Cookson. Helen and Robin were divorced in 1991. Princess Helen remarried in 1998 to Alexander Nixon (b.1964; né McAteer). 

King Michael with his grandchildren Nicholas and Karina
Nicholas and Karina of Romania: the hope of the royal family
In 2010, Princess Helen's only son was created HRH Prince Nicholas of Romania by her father King Michael. As of 2007, King Michael had abolished the Salic Law which had governed the Romanian royal house; thus, Michael was to be succeeded by his eldest daughter Margarita, and then by his daughter Helen and her two children (Nicholas and Karina), and thereafter by his three younger daughters and their issue. The King had previously stated in a book published in 1992 (Michel de Roumanie: Il Règne Inachevé by Philippe Viguié Desplaces) that His Majesty intended that his grandson would follow him as Head of House Romania: 
Like all the families in our situation, we regretted not having sons, since the royal constitution of 1923, in accordance with the Salic law, forbids women to reign over the Kingdom of Romania.

Margarita, however, is the presumed heiress, but nothing is established. This is something we will have to resolve in due course. Many countries, Sweden, for example, have repealed the Salic law, which is no longer in accord with our times…

If I die before returning to the throne, my eldest daughter would most likely become the head of the royal family. Then, if she does not marry and has no descendants, this role will be played by the eldest son of my younger daughter [Helen’s son Nicholas]. This choice seems to conform to the preferences of all the Romanians that I have consulted on the question. But nothing is established yet. I cannot take such a decision alone.

I have four grandchildren today. None of them bear the title of prince, because they have to receive it through the Romanian parliament. On the other hand, it is essential that they be known in Romania and that they speak the language of their compatriots. Nicholas, Helen’s eldest son, is now six years old. The age I was when I ascended the throne ... If destiny calls him to rule one day in Romania, Nicholas will have to fulfil his duty.
The Past and Future Heads of the Romanian Royal House
(left to right) Prince Nicholas, Princess Helen, Crown Princess Margarita, King Michael
Princess Helen and Mr. Alexander Nixon
Photograph (c) Ellen Dean
The wedding of Prince Nicholas and Princess Alina-Maria of Romania
(left to right) Karina of Romania, Heinz Binder, Princess Alina-Maria, Prince Nicholas, Rodica Binder, Mihai Binder

Photograph (c) David Nivière/Getty Images
As first in line to the headship of the Royal House after her older sister, Princess Helen continues to periodically visit Romania and support the activities of the royal family. Helen's two children are essentially l'espoir of the royal family. In 2018, the princess gained a daughter-in-law, when her son Nicholas married Alina-Maria Binder at Sinaia. Helen was unable to attend the ceremony, but her daughter Karina was present and acted as a bridesmaid for Alina-Maria. Helen resides in the United Kingdom with her second husband; her son Nicholas and his wife Alina live full-time in Bucharest, where they are engaged in numerous charitable activities; and her daughter Karina is a private citizen. 

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