Queen Mother Helen of Romania, born Princess Helen of Greece and Denmark, was born on this day in 1896. The eldest daughter of King Constantine I of Greece and Princess Sophie of Prussia, all three of her brothers became Kings of Greece, and her younger sister became the Duchess of Aosta. She was the first cousin of the Duke of Edinburgh, Princess Margarita of Hohenlohe-Langenburg), Princess Theodora, Margravine of Baden), Grand Duchess Cecile of Hesse), Princess Sophie of Hanover, Princess Paul of Yugoslavia, and Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent. Exiled and returning several times from Greece after 1917, in 1921, she married Crown Prince Carol of Romania, son of her mother’s cousin, Queen Marie of Romania. The couple had one son, but divorced in the mid-1920s, when her husband left their son and his throne for another woman. Their son succeeded his grandfather as King Michael in 1927, but was deposed after her ex-husband’s return to Romania and coup, which led to her subsequent exile in Italy until he was ousted in 1940. After her return, she was made the Queen Mother of Romania and during WWII, worked for the wounded stopped plans to deport jews, which led to her being awarded the status Righteous Among the Nations, along with her aunt, Princess Alice of Greece. In 1947, King Michael was forced to abdicate by the Communist Government, and they again went into exile, this time in Switzerland, until his marriage in 1947, to Princess Anne of Bourbon-Parma. Queen Helen returned to her Villa Sparta in Italy, where she often hosted family members, attended royal events in Greece, and had a romance with the widowed King Gustaf Adolf of Sweden (previously married to two of her cousins; Margaret of Connaught and Louise Mountbatten), though she declined his proposal. Eventually, she had to sell her Villa and some paintings she had smuggled out of Romania, and moved with her son and his family in Lausanne, where she died in 1982.
For more information, check out some of the jewels Queen Helen wore: