The book is the biography of Princess Ileana, the youngest child of Queen Marie and King Ferdinand of Romania. Through her mother, she is also a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria of Great Britain. She grew up in the shadow of the impressive personality of her mother, from whom she inherited a remarkable ease to communicate with people from all social strata from aristocrats, her British royal relatives, to the peasants of the Romanian countryside.
She was educated in Romania and Britain, at Heathfield School, Ascot. The princess was dedicated and had a natural talent for charitable work, and was also a gifted public speaker. In 1931 she married Anton of Habsburg-Lothringen, Archduke of Austria. Her new, Habsburg dynastic identity came as a crossroads moment for the dynasty in a convulsive period of Austrian history. After the ascension of Hitler and annexation of Austria, Ileana managed to move permanently back to Romania in the spring of 1944, at Bran Castle, working as a medical nurse at a hospital she founded there. Princess Ileana has also witnessed the communist takeover of Romania in the aftermath of the war. In 1948, after the forced abdication of King Michael, instrumented by the Romanian communist government at the orders of Stalin, Ileana, together with Anton and their six children went into exile, after a tortuous period settling in the United States. She then began a cycle of conferences at American and British institutions dedicated to Romania’s tragic situation under communism, pleading for the liberation of her country. She also answered the enquiries of the US Congress investigating the accession of communism and its effects in Europe. Following a difficult period in her life due to family tragedies, she decided to take monastic vows and founded a nuns’ Orthodox Monastery in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, being the mother abbess there. Ileana was able only once again to see her country, visiting Romania for a few days in September 1990, after the fall of the communist dictatorship. She died on 21 January 1991, in the United States, being buried in the cemetery of the monastery she helped found in Pennsylvania. Her life is intimately intertwined with the history of the 20th century and its dramatic moments and periods. The book is based on never published before documents from US, British, Romanian, and Swiss archives, as well as photographs provided by her immediate family.