Ileana Prinzessin von Rumänien und Erzherzogin von Österreich
(1909-1991) verkaufte das Diadem mit den grossen Saphiren, der mittlere
von der Grösse einer Herren Taschenuhr, von 130 Karat, das ihr Ihre
Mutter Königin von Rumänien hinterlassen hat, 1950 in NewYork
um den Unterhalt ihrer Familie bestreiten zu können.
Sie brachte das exquisite Juwel in einem Karton auf abenteuerliche Weise
nach Amerika, in ihren Memoiren schreibt sie detailiert die einzelnen
Versuche und Etappen des Verkaufs sowie die Wirkung dieses Diadems auf
die amerikanischen Zollangestellten die fassungslos über die Pracht
waren, als sie die schäbige Verpackung öffneten. Noch erstaunter
waren sie als ihnen die Besitzerin eröffnete, das das Diadem nicht
versichert ist, denn das hätte ihren finanziellen Rahmen gesprengt.
Oben im Bild die beiden erhaltenen Bilder der Prinzessin mit dem Diadem,
sowie eine Zeichnung mit dem Saphir - Diamant Kokoschnik das sie selbst
Dieses Diadem ist seit diesr Zeit nicht mehr im Handel aufgetaucht.
Ein kleineres Diadem, ein 3-4 cm breites Bandeau, Muster und Aussehen
nicht überliefert erhielt sie von der Famiile ihres Mannes 1931,
als Sie Erzherzogin von Österreich wurde und an ihrem einzigen Hofball
teilnahm. Das Diadem soll ursprünglich ein Geschenk von Napoleon
an seine 2. Frau Marie Louse ein geb. Prinzessin von Österreich gewesen
Sie schreibt, es sind Schmuckstücke während der Revolution und
bei denHausdurchsuchungen durch die Nazis weggekommen, nichts detailiertes.
Einiges wurde auch verkauft, jedoch sind keine Details bekannt.
I Live Again
by Ileana, Princess of Romania CHAPTER 2/3
THERE IS one thing I cannot show you in either of my two rooms: one very
important thing which I was allowed to bring with me from my old life,
and which made the foundation of my new one. You can see it in a photograph
of my mother there on the table, but no picture can give you any idea
of the living glow and the rainbow fires in the sapphire and diamond tiara
she is wearing. "A tiara!" you say. "Now that is what one expects of a
Yes, I can agree with you. This was truly a royal diadem.
Nicholas I of Russia had it made for his wife, the Princess Charlotte
of Prussia, when he became emperor in 1825. Through his granddaughter,
my mother's mother, it descended eventually to me (it goes to Grandduke
Vladimir, brother of her grandmother Grandduchess Marie, Duchess of Edinburgh
and Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha , also a son of the tsar, and later his wife
the famous Grand Duchess Vladimir, sold it to her mother on the fled).
My mother wore it at her coronation in 1922. She chose it also to wear
on state occasions during the visit she made to this country.
And so the tiara and I both entered the United States twice, and together:
once in 1926, when I was one of a royal party receiving an official and
impressive welcome in New York City, and when the diadem was suitably
packed and guarded; and once in 1950, when I flew from Argentina to Miami-hoping
to avoid any public recognition-with the tiara wrapped in my nightgown!
Perhaps this is not your idea of how a princess should care for her jewels?
It was certainly a surprise to the customs officer! To the tiara, however,
it was only one more in a long series of adventures.
A few of these I know about: for example, that it was smuggled out of
Russia in 1918 during the revolution there. My mother had given it to
me when I was married in 1931. I lent it to her to wear at the Jubilee
of King George V of England, and she left it in her bank in London because
of unsettled conditions at home. After her death I had no small trouble
in claiming it, but I got it away from England just before World War II
actually began. I kept it in Austria until 1943, when I smuggled it into
Romania, and there I saved it from the Communists when I left in 1948.
It went to Switzerland with me, and then to Argentina, where I pawned
it to put money into an unfortunate business that failed. Its adventures
as a single piece of jewelry were then almost over, for it became evident
that I must try to sell it in order to pay our debts.
Because by this time I was suffering severely from arthritis, I received
permission in May, 1950, to come to the United States for medical treatment.
As I gathered all my forces, physical and financial, to make this trip,
I felt desperately that I was nearing the end of my endurance. I pawned
everything I had of value in order to leave my family in Buenos Aires
the money to live on, and in order to redeem the tiara. I could not afford
to insure something whose "breakup" value had once been appraised at eighty
thousand dollars, so I decided to wrap it in my nightgown and keep it
with me in a small bag.
Thus with three hundred dollars, a ticket to Boston, and a hidden tiara,
I prepared to enter the United States for the second time. It was a thirty-hour
trip by air-over the Andes and finally over the Caribbean-and I had plenty
of time to think. Bursitis in my left arm made me barely able to move
it, and my back and feet were one continual ache from arthritis, yet I
enjoyed that flight. Since my husband is an enthusiastic aviator, he had
for many years flown his own private plane. Our trips to England, to Hungary,
and to Romania were made by air as matter-of-factly as you plan to travel
in your automobile. Indeed, when there are small children and babies in
the family, traveling by air is easier than any other method I have tried.
I remember thinking of this with great feeling in 1941! Pregnant with
my sixth child, I drove the other five children (the oldest not yet ten)
eight hundred miles across Austria, Hungary, and Romania during wartime.
My husband and I had sought security and a new life for them in Switzerland
and then in Argentina, but we had not found it. Could it be that somehow,
in the friendly country I had visited as a girl, I might find a new home
for them? What princess who is also a mother would not give up a diadem
to gain a home for her children! Anxious, weary, in pain, but strangely
hopeful, I finally arrived in Miami, where the long flight was interrupted.
I lined up for customs inspection, glad to see that no word of my arrival
had preceded me on this second entrance into the United States. I had
not realized how public the inspection would be, and when it was my turn
and I answered that I had something to declare, I asked if I could unpack
my bag in private. The officer was good humored, but a little impatient
with my hesitation. When I insisted on it, he made it clear that he thought
I was being a nuisance. "What have you got there, anyway-a corpse?" he
asked me. However, when he finally led me to an office and I opened my
bag, it was my turn to feel a little superior. It was obvious that he
did not know quite what to do when a tiara turned up in the luggage he
inspected. He touched the central sapphire a little gingerly. Since it
weighed 125 carats it was nearly the size of a man's pocket watch. Was
it real? he wanted to know.
When I assured him that it was, he looked still more harassed, but finally
he decided that he would send it to Boston "in bond." Together we wrapped
it in a newspaper and put it into a box, which he duly sealed and ticketed.
It was with a qualm, I confess, that I watched it put into the luggage
compartment of the plane for Boston before I myself embarked. If it should
somehow be lost, I was losing everything I had, and it was now out of
Arriving in Boston, I was told that, since it was Sunday, all offices
were closed and I would have to wait to claim my "package." I knew no
one in Boston except the friend who, with her husband's help, had arranged
for me to come to this country. Since she could not be sure of the time
of my arrival, I was to let her know when I got to the airport. I found
a telephone and stood looking at it stupidly, giddy from my thirty hours'
flight and full of pain. I had no idea how to use an American dial telephone,
but I was in the United States, where people are kind. A friendly gentleman
found the number for me and called my friend.
The diadem was temporarily pushed to the back of my mind. When I did
think of it I felt confident of its safety in this friendly country. Ten
days of rest and hospital treatment, however, made me able to find my
way to the customhouse and inquire for my "parcel." It took some time
for the officials to trace it, and I felt some stabs of alarm until it
was finally located in a safe in another building. But even within sight
of it there was a further delay-I must get a "customhouse broker"! I had
never heard of such a thing, and when it was explained to me I naturally
asked: "But whom shall I get?" "Oh, we are not allowed to recommend any
particular broker, but there are plenty around here," replied one of the
gentlemen, waving his hand casually in the direction of the window. I
looked out, and my eye fell on a sign across the street: "Stone & Downer,
Custom House Brokers." Why not go there? I thought to myself-so I did!
Everyone was very matter of fact about the whole thing, both then and
the next day, when we all met by appointment in an office of the customhouse
on Atlantic Avenue.
Everyone was very matter of fact until the parcel was opened, and the
officials saw what had been lying about the office for ten days-for even
I, who was so familiar with it, felt always a thrill of delight at the
radiance of blue and white fire when the tiara was suddenly brought into
the light. The faces of the men revealed their shocked amazement. They
gasped. Then one smiled, relieved. "But of course you have this insured!"
he said. "Oh, no," I told him calmly. "Why should I? It has escaped the
Nazis and the Communists safely. Naturally I did not expect to lose it
here!" They were evidently uncertain whether to laugh or to scold me,
but from that moment we were all friends. One of the men asked me to autograph
a visitors' register he kept-"with all your titles and things!" he explained;
and I was tempted to draw him a little sketch of the tiara as a souvenir.
The age of the jewel was found to make it free of customs, so eventually
I walked off with it under my arm-still in its somewhat battered cardboard
box. When it was rewrapped with the help of Mr. Irvine, who represented
my "Custom House Brokers," I tucked it under my arm again and walked up
State Street to the post office, where I mailed the package to a jeweler
in New York. That was not its last journey.
Sometimes it was guarded by police, at other times my son carried it about
in the subway! Finally, after much trouble, worry, and heartbreak, it
was sold for a sum much below its value. It was both beautiful and splendid,
but my children were in need. As it stood, it neither fed us nor clothed
us nor warmed us. I could not even wear it! So I was grateful on the day
when it was gone, even though I felt a traitor to the past and all the
proud heads that had worn it. I wondered if my ancestors were turning
in their graves-and then I remembered that hardly any of them have graves
any more. Does this sound strange to you? It is because the Communist
and the revolutionist fear the dead and destroy their bodies. Those graves
of heroes which have been shrines for the people, those tombs of rulers
which bear testimony to the proud history of a nation-all of them are
So it was with no permanent regret that I gave up my diadem. It had
been a gift from my mother, and what it enabled me to do I consider also
her gifts: to pay my debts of two years' standing; to make a first payment
on a home in New England; to go back to Buenos Aires and bring the other
four children to the United States; to put them into the schools where
they had been given scholarships; to take a respite in which I could regain
my health and find a way of earning my livelihood. "Il faut faire face
à la vie, car la vie aime les braves." It is necessary to confront life,
for life loves the brave: so my mother once wrote in a book she dedicated
to a friend. Many years later, in a time of great trouble for me, I found
and opened that book-and the message was as if my mother had spoken to
me in that hour.
My parents' early training of me has been of great value, as has been
the gift of cheerfulness and natural love for people that God has blessed
my nature with. But the real strength to carry on my life, to face disappointment,
and strangers, and loneliness, to determine to "live again," comes from
something much deeper within me-from the inner force which absolute faith
gives. It has sustained me through the past, and I have firm confidence
that it will sustain me through the future. But it is only of the past
I can speak as I pause in the present to describe something of what it
was like to be a princess-a princess with a sapphire and diamond diadem!
IF YOU are to recognize in my story the people and places I am talking
about, I must sketch a background for you and introduce you briefly to
the members of my family. I may as well begin by telling you frankly that
a princess spends very little of her time wearing a diadem! Although the
court functions at Bucarest were always dignified and beautiful, by the
standards of some courts they were simple and sober ones. I myself wore
the lovely sapphire and diamond tiara on only one state occasion, and
that was at a large ball which the Legitimist Party gave in the Hofburg
in Vienna, four years after I was married.
I went to only one "court ball" in my life, and that was at
my own wedding; but there I wore a much smaller diadem given me by my
father-in-law. (It was, however, an appropriate one for the occasion when
the title "Archduchess of Austria" had been added to my name,
because the diadem had originally been a present from Napoleon to Maria
Louisa, who was also an archduchess of Austria.) A bandeau 3-4cm width
no pattern is known, It is lost! (And some items are sold or stolen by
In 1916 Romania joined the Allies in World War Ia fact which in
itself proves that her royal family no longer thought as Hohenzollerns,
but as Romanians. When the Russian Empire fell as a result of the Bolshevik
Revolution, Bessarabia, which had been a Russian province, was able to
break free and to join the mother country of Romania in March, 1918. Eight
months later the disintegration of the Habsburg monarchy freed Transylvania
from the Hungarians, after seven hundred years of servitude. In 1866 my
great-uncle had been chosen to lead a precarious union of four million
Romanians. Fifty-six years later, in 1922, my parents were crowned King
and Queen of Romania Mare (Greater Romania), a union of eighteen million
Romanians for whom the prospects of permanent status as a nation looked
bright and promising.
In 1893 my father, then Crown Prince of Romania, had married Marie, born
a princess of Great Britain and Ireland. She was a granddaughter of Queen
Victoriathe eldest daughter of the Queen's second sonand so
a first cousin to King George V of England. Since her mother was a grand
duchess of Russia, sister of Czar Alexander III, my mother was also a
first cousin to Czar Nicholas IIwhose visit with his family to Romania
in 1914 is one of my most vivid childhood memories.
My parents had six children, the eldest of whom is my brother Carol,
born in 1894, who became King Carol II. He abdicated in 1940; and his
son, King Mihai I (or Michael, as his name is in English), abdicated under
duress of the Russian Communists on December 30, 1947. The second child
of my parents is my sister Elisabeta, who was Queen of Greece until she
divorced her husband, the late King George of Greece. Next comes my sister
Marie, whom we call Mignon, who later became Queen of Yugoslavia. Her
husband was murdered in Marseilles in 1934, leaving three sons, the eldest
of whom is King Peter of Yugoslavia, deposed in 1941. My next brother
is Nicholas, now living in Switzerland; I was born in 1909; and I had
a younger brother Mircea, who died of typhoid during World War I. There
are great differences of age between us allfifteen years, for example,
between Carol and me.
A question I was so often asked on my first visit to the United States:
"What is it liketo be a princess?" Perhaps you will be
disappointed at my answer, as an American girl was who wrote and asked
me for my picture. When I sent her one she wrote politely to thank me,
but she added sadly, " I did hope it would be one of you in royal
garb!" Unfortunately I did not wear "royal garb!"
Ileana Princess of Romania - married in 1931 the Habsburg Archduke Anton
of Austria and was than Archduchess of Austria (1909-1991)
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