Regele Mihai! Regele Mihai! This was the cry of people gathered outside the Parliament in the morning, when King Michael, the former head of state, was accorded the rare privilege of speaking before the Romanian Parliament on the occasion of his 90th birthday yesterday.
Yesterday morning, the guests of the King, who are staying at the InterContinental, gathered in the Modigliani Room for breakfast and to watch the speech on large screen TV. Queen Sofia of Spain was one of the guests, and she sat with her cousin, Princess Tatiana Radziwill and her husband, Dr. Fruchaud.
At 6 p.m., we gathered in the lobby to await transportation to the Opera House for the Gala concert in honor of King Michael. The non-royal guests traveled by bus, and the royals were transported by cars.
The King and Queen of Sweden were delayed in the United States and could not attend the gala. From what I understand, the King's plans had changed, regardless, as he planned to attend the funeral of the Saudi Crown Prince. Crown Prince Alexander and Crown Princess Katherine of Serbia arrived at 5 p.m., walking into the elevator as I was coming out. They had traveled from Chicago to London and then to Bucharest.
(Some wonder about the British. The Prince of Wales was invited. He was in Romania several months ago, and visited the Royal Family at the Elisabeta Palace. The InterContinental is already crawling with security. The Prince of Wales' presence would have made it a nightmare for all the guests. )
I chatted with newlyweds Prince Georg Friedrich and Princess Sophie of Prussia, and both are very tall. They were joined by the Princess' sister, Archduchess Katharina and her husband, Archduke Martin of Austria. I also met Princess Margaretha of Luxembourg for the first time.
The royal guests included the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Prince Guillaume and Princess Sibilla of Luxembourg, the duke and duchess of Braganza (really sweet people), Archduke Georg and Archduchess Eilika, both still in mourning for Georg's father, Archduke Otto, who died several months ago.
At the Opera House, we sat in the boxes below the Royal Box ... if you see the TV clip I am in the third box from the right and below the king.) The concert featured arias, solos and duets from Tosca, La Boheme, the Merry Widow and La Figaro by Romanian opera stars, Nelly Mirciioiu, Vlad Mirta and Teodor Ilincai. I got chills when Teodor Ilincai sang Nessun Dorma from Turundot.
From there we went to dinner at the Palace of the Savings Bank of Romania. The dinner was held in the ornate library. I was at the King's Table, and my dinner partners were the Czech Ambassador to Romania and The King's private secretary.
The meal consisted toasts with a variety of Romanian wines. We also sang "Happy Birthday" to the King. The meal included a salmon pate, a main course of beef, and a wonderful chocolate dessert. All the woman received a commemorate plate and the men were given a commemorative medal.
Near midnight, the cars and buses returned to the hotel, where many guests gathered in the bar. I joined Prince Vladimir and Princess Brigitte of Serbia, Grand Duke George of Russia, Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, Baron Axel de Samboucy de Sorgue, son of Princess Chantal of France, and Prince Bernhard of Baden.
The Duke and Duchess of Braganza sat at another table with Georg and Eilika, Martin and Katharina, and Friedrich and Marie of Wurttemberg. Georg Friedrich and Sophie were at another table.
Prince Georg Friedrich and Princess Sophie, along with her sister and brother-in-law, and the Wurttembergs were leaving at 7:30 in the morning to attend the 50th birthday party of the Prince of Wied, who is married to Sophie's sister, Isabelle.
Off to breakfast now and then brunch at the Elisabeta Palace.