The 20th anniversary of the return to Elisabeta Palace of King Mihai (Michael) of Romania and Queen Anne is marked in a documentary published on Facebook on Monday by the Royal House.
"On May 18, 2001, King Mihai and Queen Anne returned home to Elisabeta Palace, having become by Parliament vote the King's residence during his lifetime. (...) The King returned to Elisabeta Palace to establish the irrevocably European foundation of tomorrow's Romania. The arrival of King Mihai at his youth's palace was not a late revenge of a man whose destiny was the Anticipation. With the return of the King, Elisabeta Palace has become the royal family' place on the map of today's Romania. From within the palace, the Royal Family began a constant effort, envisioned, just like Romania's future, for twenty or thirty years ahead," shows the documentary.
Designated by law, in May 2001, as the residence of King Mihai I during his lifetime, the palace has since been "an active center for representing the fundamental interests of the country," becoming, last year, the headquarters of His Majesty's Association, an organization recognized by Government as having public utility.
"In the last two decades, hundreds of official or public events have taken place every year, at Elisabeta Palace, bringing together thousands of people, Romanians and foreign nationals, in order to consolidate the country and its renown. This is where all the generations of Romanians, from primary school children to war veterans have found their place. This is where Romanians from the cities and communes of the country, from Bessarabia, from neighboring and distant countries, came. The palace was and is used for public events, as is the garden," states the Royal House.
The documentary brings to mind the visits of the last 20 years of some republican heads of state and crowned heads, the hundreds of meetings with ambassadors of the world's countries, the evenings dedicated to the promotion of the Romanian economy (local and national), the evenings dedicated to local county and municipal administrations, the evenings dedicated to NATO, the EU, the Red Cross, the social, medical, military, sports, education, culture and science activities, those of the civil society, of the Romanian Academy and of the Academy of the Republic of Moldova.
The Garden Party, the national holiday of May 10, brings together thousands of people each year in the garden of the Elisabeta Palace.
"The Royal Family is, nowadays, one of the most prominent and respected promoters of Romania in Europe and in the transatlantic space. The Royal Family has an uninterrupted diplomatic activity of 155 years, of which the last 24 years have been among the most intense and productive, especially in the space of the European Union and NATO," adds the cited source.
According to the Royal House, Elisabeta Palace was the residence of Princess Elisabeta of Romania, the first of King Ferdinand's daughters. She wanted to build in Bucharest, next to the "King Carol II" National Park (later called "Herastrau", and nowadays "King Mihai I Park") a residence whose construction was entrusted to an architect only 25 years of age, Corneliu M. Marcu. The work began in 1936 and was completed in 1937.
On the evening of August 23, 1944, the German army bombed and destroyed the "New House," the sovereign's residence, a modest one-story building behind the Royal Palace, where the Palace Hall now stands.
In September 1944, upon their return from the secret house in Dobrita village (Gorj county), King Mihai and Queen Mother Elena moved to Elisabeta Palace, with the permission of the building's owner. The sovereign and his mother remained here until the morning of December 31, 1947.
On December 30, 1947, at 15.00, King Mihai was forced to sign his abdication in a hall on the floor of the Elisabeta Palace, a day later leaving the palace for Sinaia [mountain resort in Prahova County, where the Peles Castle is situated].
"After the visit of Petru Groza and Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, the king and his mother decided to stay at the palace that evening and asked the civilian staff to go home, thinking that the employees' lives could be in danger. Then they had dinner and the next morning, the last day of 1947, they left for Sinaia, with King Mihai behind the wheel. Neither of them knew back then whether or not they would ever see Elisabeta Palace again," recalls the documentary.
From 1948 to 1989, Elisabeta Palace was kept closed for a number of years, then transformed into a protocol house. However, few official guests lived at the palace. An employee from the communist years remembered the accommodation in the official bedrooms of King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia of Spain, as well as German Communist leader Erich Honecker.