CURTEA DE ARGES, Romania – As church bells rang, thousands of Romanians turned out Saturday in a central town for the funeral of Anne of Romania, the wife of Michael, the last king of Romania.
Romania and neighbouring Moldovan both observed a national day of mourning Saturday for Anne. A male Orthodox choir sang in a park outside the unfinished cathedral in Curtea de Arges to the hundreds who gathered before the funeral, which will be a private service.
Anne died Aug. 1 in Switzerland at the age of 92. She only first visited the country when she was nearly 70 and did not speak the language. Yet many respect her for her 68-year marriage to Michael, whom she wed months after the communists forced him to abdicate in 1947.
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“She was a symbol of our country,” said Eugenia Cristescu, a 79-year-old singer in local church choir who was dressed in a gold-and-black embroidered peasant blouse and skirt.
“The royal family brought about great change in Romania. It raised us from being simple people and brought respect to the country.”
Earlier Saturday, church bells rang around Bucharest, the Romanian capital, and hundreds turned out as Orthodox and Catholic priests held services at the city’s Royal Palace before Anne’s body began its journey to Curtea de Arges, where members of the royal family are buried. Her body has lain in state this week in Romania.
Four of the couple’s five daughters were present for funeral. Princess Irina, who was stripped of her royal title in 2013 after she was arrested with her husband for running an illegal cockfighting ring in the U.S., will not attend her mother’s funeral.
Michael, 94, has cancer and is living in Switzerland. He will also not attend the funeral on the advice of doctors.