Bran castle, Castelul Bran, Crown Princess Margarita of Romania, Familia regala, inima Reginei Maria, istoria regalitatii, King Michael of Romania, Monarhia, Noblesse et Royautés, Princess Ileana of Romania, Queen Anne, Queen Marie of Romania, Regina Maria, Reine Marie de Roumanie, Romanian Royal Family
According to Queen Marie’s last wish, her heart was to be buried separately, as in the medieval customs of which she was very found as a personality formed during Victorian times. The heart was first interred in the chapel of her Black Sea palace in Balcic in 1938. After that area has been ceded to Bulgaria, the heart was re-interred by her daughter Princess Ileana in 1940 in the chapel in the rock, near Bran castle, another property of Marie much loved by her, located in the Transylvanian Alps. The communist regime at the end of the 1950s once again removed the heart from Bran and put it in storage at the National History Museum in Bucharest, where it suffered numerous indignities at the hands of an insensitive personnel employed by the communist authorities. The successive post-communist governments continued to keep the heart in storage for the last two decades.
With the return of the Bran Castle to Princess Ileana successors (the inheritors of the property), the authorities decided to lend the heart until 2013 as a heritage piece to the newly created museum located in the medieval Custom House of Bran, just accross the road from the former chapel in the rock that still has the marble sarcophagus that once contained Marie’s heart. This new museum hosts the royal heritage objects until recently exhibited by the Bran Castle. The building of Bran castle’s old Custom House is scheduled to be returned in 2013 to Princess Ileana’s descendants. Until that date Marie’s heart is going to be one of the exhibits in the ad hoc museum. The authorities plan to move Queen Marie’s heart to this temporarily resting place at the end of this week, on 31 May 2009. Princess’ Ileana children will also reopen Bran Castle for the public on 1 June 2009.
This is the latest drama in the long saga of Marie’s hearth tormented fate induced by the political conjunctures in the Balkans and Romania ever since she died. In September 1940, Balcic a small town on the Black Sea shore, the place where Marie desired to have her heart buried inside the chapel “Stella Maris” on her estate, was incorporated by Bulgaria after Romania yielded to pressures from fascist Germany and Italy that ganged up with the Soviet Union to cede territories in order to satisfy their geopolitcal interests. Marie’s heart rested in Balcic for just two years from 1938 to 1940. At Ileana’s request the heart was reburied in Bran, nearby Prince Mircea’s grave. A small chapel in the rock, opposite the castle, was erected for Queen Marie’s heart.
In January 1948 the royal family went into exile following the communist take over. Marie’s heart remained in the same place until the end of 1950s when the communist regime decided to remove it inside a depot at the National History Museum. The citizens of Bran demanded after the fall of communism (1989) that the Queen’s heart must be returned and reburied in Bran. Starting with 31 May 2009, Queen Marie’s heart will be put in the small silver box (see the first photograph) where was initially laid when she died and travel again towards Bran. Originally the small silver box containing the heart was placed in a larger gilded silver chest encrusted with diamonds, rubies and other precious jewels (see the photograph) that was given as a present to Marie when she first arrived in Romania by an organisation representing Romanian ladies. That chest remains within the treasury of the National History Museum in Bucharest and thus the drama of Marie’s heart continues to be at the mercy of Romania’s pathetic Balkan political elite and its whims, incapable after two decades since the fall of communism to restore dignity to one of the important personalities of this country’s past. ©Diana Mandache
N.B. The latest press news from Romania (1st week of June 2009): the authorities backed down in their horrible plan to shuffle Queen Marie’s heart between different locations in Romania, after many people and organisations voiced protests. The heart remains in storage at the National Museum of History in Bucharest.
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