HRH Crown Princess Margarita
A childhood far from her native land
Princess Margarita of Romania was born in Lausanne, Switzerland, on 26 March 1949. She is the first daughter of Their Majesties King Michael and Queen Anne of Romania, born in exile, after King Michael was forced to abdicate in 1947, and is the Princess Heir Apparent of Romania.
Princess Margarita spent her childhood in Great Britain and Switzerland, a simple, happy childhood, not very different from that of other children. She was surrounded by the affection of her parents, of her grandmother, the Queen Mother Helen, and her four younger sisters: Helena, Irina, Sophie and Marie. As a child Princess Margarita spent long periods in Italy, at her grandmother’s, the Queen Mother Helen, and many holidays in Denmark, at her mother’s grandparents. Florence and Denmark will remain the childhood places of which she has the fondest memories.
Princess Margarita found out about Romania from the stories of her father and grandmother, and from photographs. She was each time impressed by the solemnity of the moment when the Queen broadcast his New Year’s message to Romania on Radio Free Europe. The first thing she learned in Romanian was the Lord’s Prayer, which King Michael used to recite to his daughters every evening at bedtime.
Margarita went to school in Italy and Switzerland and then to boarding school in Great Britain. Returning to Switzerland at the age of fourteen, she attended the French Lycée. Philosophy, according to the Princess, was her favourite subject during lycée.
Italy and Scotland – finding her own way
After taking the French Baccalaureate, she spent a year in Italy, with her grandmother, Queen Helen, in her beautiful residence near Florence: the Villa Sparta.
''I discovered a whole world with her,'' says Princess Margarita of her beloved grandmother. ''Queen Helen was my spiritual guide, my mentor, my guiding star. She taught me many things about life, she opened my eyes to all that is beautiful and good in the world.''
The young, dynamic, beautiful, slightly rebellious, slightly impulsive princess learned from Queen Helen a taste for the beautiful, she enriched her cultural horizons and met the exceptional people who make up her grandmother’s circle of acquaintances: diplomats, artists, intellectuals, scientists, but also simple folk, peasants, craftsmen.
In the year she spent in Italy, Princess Margarita decided – encouraged by Queen Helen – to go to university and then to pursue an international career in the United Nations Organisation.
She went to Edinburgh University, in Scotland, where, in 1974, she obtained a Masters Degree in Sociology, Political Science and International Public Law. Her time as a student was among the most beautiful in the life of the young Princess, a period of independence and maturity, in which she struck up many friendships and was enriched by new experiences. She fell in love with Edinburgh and Scotland, so much so that she jokingly declares herself ''an Honorary Scot''.
A successful career in the United Nations Organisation
Between 1974 and 1983, she worked as a researcher at a number of British universities, specialising in medical sociology and public health. She then worked for agencies within the United Nations Organisation, in particular the O.M.S. and the United Nations Population Fund (U.N.F.P.A.). The social projects in the field of public health in which she was involved were to take her to all four corners of the world, to Africa and Latin America. The Princess thus came into contact with the suffering and deficiencies of deprived populations. This experience would represent the beginning of a road of humanitarian service, which she still follows today.
After spending twelve years in Scotland, in 1983 she moved to Rome, Italy, where she had obtained a post with the United Nations. First, she worked for the Food and Agriculture Organisation (F.A.O.), where she dealt with problems connected to rural development.
Three years later, she joined the International Fund for Agricultural Development (I.F.A.D.), where she handled relations with non-governmental organisations and provided assistance in raising funds for I.F.A.D. programmes.
Princess Margarita embraces the cause of Romania
In August 1989, when it became clear that there were at last going to be changes in Eastern Europe, Princess Margarita left the United Nations Organisation to devote herself to the cause of Romania, working alongside her father.
The date 18 January 1990 will forever remain in the Princess’s memory, as well as the emotion she felt that day, stepping onto Romania soil for the first time, onto that up until then ''forbidden planet'' which was, in fact, her homeland. Nor will she ever forget the sadness she felt when she visited, together with her sister Sophie, orphanages and old people’s home, in which children and the aged lived in squalid conditions.
He response to these grim realities was the Princess Margarita of Romania Foundation, a charitable organisation which she founded in 1990 together with her father, H.M. King Michael. Through the Foundation, the Princess set out with courage and idealism to contribute to a change for the better in the lives of the most vulnerable Romanians – old people, abandoned children, families in difficulty – and to provide extra opportunities for talented young people. Today, the Foundation has offices in Bucharest, London, Geneva, Brussels, Paris and New York, and can boast nineteen years of experience, good deeds and successful projects, thousands of people who have been helped, and immense capital of credibility.
Throughout the 1990s, Princess Margarita’s main concern was fund-raising for her Foundation abroad and involvement in a series of public events and engagements in which she often represented her father. In 1997 and 2002, Princess Margarita was at the King’s side during his tours of numerous European countries, as well as the United States of America and Canada, to support Romania’s integration into N.A.T.O.
In 1994, at one of the orphanages she was visiting, Princess Margarita met Radu, now Prince Radu of Romania, who was at that time co-ordinating an art therapy project run by Ion Caramitru and supported by the Princess Margarita of Romania Foundation. The two married in 1966, spending the first years of their marriage between Romania, Switzerland, and a number of other European countries, to which they travelled to support Foundation projects, the cause of Romania at the level of international diplomatic relations, and on the occasion of the Prince’s artistic tours.
Since 2001, Princess Margarita of Romania and Prince Radu of Romania have lived at the Elisabeta Palace in Bucharest, and undertake public engagements in the capital, around Romania, and abroad, contributing to the successful modernisation of Romania, reconciliation with the past, and linking the country to the European and trans-Atlantic family of nations.
In 2008, the Princess experienced, alongside her parents and Prince Radu, two emotional moments: the return of His Majesty King Michael to Castle Peles, after an absence of sixty years, and the Diamond Wedding of King Michael and Queen Anne.
Princess Margarita is the President of the Princess Margarita of Romania Foundation, of the Savarsin Association for Sustainable Development, and of the Royal Hospitality Management Foundation. She is Honorary President of the Romanian Athletics Foundation. Princess Margarita has granted her Royal Patronage to the Enesco Society in London – an initiative of the Romanian Cultural Institute – to the Turdafest Festival, organised by the Ratiu Family Foundation, and to the MaiMultVerde Ecological Association, founded by Dragos Bucurenci. Together with Prince Radu, she is patron of the Queen Marie Fairytale Competition and of the EUROPAfest International Festival. She is spiritual patron of the Architectural Heritage Specialist Restoration Centre, and, since 2005, School no. 114 in Bucharest is named after her.
Princess Margarita likes films, reading, and photography. She is an animal lover, and is passionate about interior design and Italian cuisine. She likes swimming and in general prefers summer sports. In her youth, she practised horsemanship and played tennis and hockey.
She has lived and travelled in various countries and cultures, she has met a great variety of people, from world-famous figures to simple folk, whose different spiritual riches she cherishes alike.
Princess Margarita likes people ''who tell the truth, behave naturally and do not try to flatter''. She does not like people who always want to control everything. A sense of humour is the quality she very much appreciates in those around her. Friendship, she says, ''is not chosen, it happens, and is very much like love''.
The Princess takes pleasure in beautiful things and in good music. She is happy when she is relaxed and especially when she is beside the people she loves.
Princess Margarita feels young and is just as active as she has always been. And this is how she is seen by all those who have had occasion to know her.