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Prince Ferdinand Victor Albert Meinrad, the second son of Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen and Antonia (née Infanta of Portugal), was born at Sigmaringen on 24 August 1865. He completed his studies at the Düsseldorf gymnasium, the military school in Kassel, and also law studies at the University of Tübingen. He was a passionate botanist and reached a professional level in this field. He became the heir to the Romanian throne in 1889, and King of Romania on 27 September/10 October 1914 after the death of King Carol I, being subsequently known as King Ferdinand I. During his reign a modern Constitution was adopted by the Romanian Parliament in March 1923, the most democratic such basic law the country has ever had to date, which settled the new political transformations within the Kingdom of Romania after the end of the First World War and the unification of all the Romanian provinces with the old Kingdom of Romania. The official foreign tours Ferdinand made in Europe during 1922-1925 put the new basis of Romania’s diplomatic and political relations. Important economic, political and military treaties were signed during his reign. In December 1925 when his eldest son, Carol, renounced to his succession rights to the Romanian throne. King Ferdinand, as a result, named as heir his grandson, prince Michael (Mihai); the Parliament validated that act in January 1926.  On 20 July 1927, Ferdinand died at Sinaia and was buried at the Curtea de Arges cathedral, the burial place of the Romanian Royal Family.

In an unpublished manuscript his wife, Queen Marie of Romania wrote about Ferdinand’s introverted personality, which often put him in the eyes of the outsiders in the shadow of his flamboyant wife’s personality:

“Ferdinand was almost painfully modest and always felt as though he must excuse himself for all he did, or left undone. Already as child he had a disconcerting way of accepting to be underdog. … he suffered from an inferiority complex, which he certainly did to an almost painful degree, and those who educated him, instead of endeavouring to help him out of his shrinking timidity, were inclined to consider this attitude advantageous to themselves as he was always ready to give way, obey, or to imagine he was in the wrong. His brothers of course, looked upon this as convenient particularity and ordered him about to their heart’s content; this was made all the easier as ‘Nando’, was somewhat hesitant about expressing himself, so he was seldom listened to, and got into the habit of letting others do all the talking, only repeating the last word they said, as though he always agreed. This, in later life, became almost a tick, and was most disconcerting to those who met him for the first time…”

All rights reserved ©Diana Mandache

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