Princess Ileana of Romania

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Princess Ileana
Archduchess Ileana of Austria, Princess of Hungary, Croatia, and Bohemia
Printesa Ileana de Romania.jpg
Spouse Archduke Anton of Austria, Prince of Tuscany
Dr. Stefan Nikolas Issarescu
Archduke Stefan
Archduchess Maria Ileana
Archduchess Alexandra
Archduke Dominic
Archduchess Maria Magdalena
Archduchess Elisabeth
Father Ferdinand of Romania
Mother Marie
Born (1909-01-05)5 January 1909
Bucharest, Romania
Died 21 January 1991(1991-01-21) (aged 82)
Youngstown, Ohio, US
Religion Romanian Orthodox
House of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen
Kingdom of Romania - Big CoA.svg

Carol I
Queen Consort:
   Princess Maria
Ferdinand I
Queen Consort:
    Prince Carol
    Elisabeth, Queen of Greece
    Maria, Queen of Yugoslavia
    Prince Nicholas
    Ileana, Archduchess of Austria
    Prince Mircea
Carol II
    Prince Michael
Michael I
Queen Consort:
    Princess Margarita
    Princess Elena
    Princess Irina
    Princess Sophie
    Princess Maria

Princess Ileana of Romania (also Mother Alexandra) (5 January 1909 – 21 January 1991) was the youngest daughter of King Ferdinand I of Romania, and his consort Queen Marie of Romania. She was a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria and of Czar Alexander II. She was born Her Royal Highness Ileana, Princess of Romania, Princess of Hohenzollern. After marriage she was known as Her Imperial and Royal Highness, Ileana, Archduchess of Austria, Princess Imperial of Austria, Princess Royal of Hungary and Bohemia, Princess of Tuscany, Princess of Romania, Princess of Hohenzollern.

Birth and early life[edit]

Ileana was born in Bucharest on 5 January 1909, the youngest daughter of Queen Marie of Romania and King Ferdinand I of Romania. Although it was rumored that Ileana's true father was her mother's lover, Prince Barbu Ştirbey, the king admitted paternity. Ileana had four older siblings: Carol, Elisabeth – later Crown Princess of Greece, Princess Maria – later Queen of Yugoslavia – and Nicholas. Her younger brother Mircea was also claimed to be the child of Prince Ştirbey even though the king also claimed to be his father.

At fifteen, Ileana spread rumors about her cousin Grand Duchess Maria Kirillovna and the son-in-law of one her mother's ladies-in-waiting. This resulted in Maria being sent home to Russia.

Girl Guiding[edit]

Before her marriage, Ileana was the organizer and Chief of the Romanian Girl Guide Movement.

Later Princess Ileana was involved in Guiding in Austria and served as president of the Austrian Girl Guides[1][2] from 1935 until Girl Guiding and Scouting were banned in 1938 after the Anschluss.

Other achievements[edit]

Ileana was the organizer of the Girl Reserves of the Red Cross, and of the first school of Social Work in Romania.

She was an avid sailor: she earned her navigator's papers, and owned and sailed the "Isprava" for many years.

Before King Michael's abdication[edit]


In Sinaia on 26 July 1931, Ileana married the Archduke Anton of Austria, Prince of Tuscany. This marriage was encouraged by Ileana's brother, King Carol II, who was jealous of Ileana's popularity in Romania and wanted to get her out of the country.[3] After the wedding, Carol claimed that the Romanian people would never tolerate a Habsburg living on Romanian soil, and on these grounds refused Ileana and Anton permission to live in Romania.[3]

After her husband was conscripted into the Luftwaffe, Ileana established a hospital for wounded Romanian soldiers at their castle, Sonneburg, outside Vienna, Austria. She was assisted in this task by her friend Sheila Kaul. In 1944, she and the children moved back to Romania, where they lived at Bran Castle, near Brasov. Archduke Anton joined them but was placed under house arrest by the Red Army. Princess Ileana established and worked in another hospital in Bran village, which she named the Hospital of the Queen's Heart in memory of her beloved mother Queen Maria of Romania.

After exile[edit]

After Michael I of Romania abdicated, Ileana and her family were exiled from the newly Communist Romania. They escaped by train to the Russian sector of Vienna, then divided into three parts. After that they settled in Switzerland, then moved to Argentina and in 1950, she and the children moved to the United States, where she bought a house in Newton, Massachusetts.

The years from 1950 to 1961 were spent lecturing against communism, working with the Romanian Orthodox Church in the United States, writing two books: I Live Again, a memoir of her last years in Romania,[4] and Hospital of the Queen's Heart, describing the establishment and running of the hospital.

On 29 May 1954, Ileana and Anton officially divorced and she married secondly in Newton, Massachusetts, on 20 June 1954, to Dr. Stefan Nikolas Issarescu (Turnu-Severin, 5 October 1906 – Providence, 21 December 2002).

In 1961, Princess Ileana entered the Orthodox Monastery of the Protection of the Mother of God, in Bussy-en-Othe, France. Her second marriage ended in divorce in 1965. On her tonsuring as a monastic, in 1967, Sister Ileana was given the name Mother Alexandra. She moved back to the United States and founded the Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, the first English language Orthodox monastery in North America. She was the third female descendant of Queen Victoria to become a Mother Superior in a convent of her own foundation. She served as abbess until her retirement in 1981, remaining at the monastery until her death.

She visited Romania again in 1990, at the age of 81 in the company of her daughter, Sandi.

In January 1991, she suffered a broken hip in a fall on the evening before her eighty-second birthday, and while in hospital, suffered two major heart attacks. She died four days after the foundations had been laid for the expansion of the monastery.

Family history[edit]

Doubts about paternity[edit]

There is some doubt about Ileana's true paternity. It has been suggested[who?] that Ileana's biological father was actually Prince Barbu Ştirbey, but this, according to Hannah Pakula's biography of her mother, Queen Marie (The Last Romantic) appears to be simply rumor.


Ileana and Anton had six children; they were raised in the Roman Catholic faith of her husband and of the country:

  • Stefan of Austria (5 August 1932 – 12 November 1998)
  • Archduchess Maria Ileana of Austria (Minola) (18 December 1933 – 11 January 1959); married Count Franz Josef Kottulinsky (3 January 1917 – 11 January 1959). Their child:
    • Maria Ileana Kottulinsky (Mino) (born 25 August 1958)
  • Archduchess Alexandra of Austria (Sandi) (born 21 May 1935); married Duke Eugen Eberhard of Württemberg, son of Princess Nadezhda of Bulgaria
  • Archduke Dominic of Austria (Niki) (born 4 July 1937)
  • Maria Magdalena of Austria (Magi) (born 2 October 1939); married Baron Hans Ulrich von Holzhausen (born 1 September 1929), and had three children:
    • Johannes Friedrich Anton von Holzhausen (born 29 July 1960 in Salzburg, Austria), married Brunilda Castejón-Schneider (born 14 July 1962 in Madrid, Spain) on 23 September 2001 in Wartberg, Germany, and had one son:
      • Laurenz von Holzhaussen (born 21 June 2001 in Vienna, Austria)
    • Georg Ferdinand von Holzhausen (born 16 February 1962 in Salzburg, Austria), married Countess Elena von und zu Hoensbroech (born 1 May 1965) on 30 April 1993 in Vienna, Austria, and had three children:
      • Alexander von Holzhausen (born 28 November 1994 in Vienna, Austria)
      • Tassilo von Holzhausen (born 4 May 1997 in Vienna, Austria)
      • Clemens von Holzhausen (born 26 April 2003 in Vienna, Austria)
    • Alexandra Maria von Holzhausen (born 22 January 1963 in Salzburg, Austria), married Christian Ferch (born 4 August 1959 in Salzburg, Austria) on 2 July 1985 in Salzburg, Austria, and had three children:
      • Ferdinand Georg Botho Ferch (born 17 October 1986 in Salzburg, Austria)
      • Leopold Anton David Ferch (born 18 August 1988)
      • Benedikt Peter Ferch (born 22 March 1993)
  • Elisabeth of Austria (Herzi) (born 15 January 1942), married Dr. Friedrich Josef Sandhofer (born 1 August 1934 in Salzburg, Austria) on 3 August 1964 in Mondsee, Austria, and had four children:
    • Anton Dominic Sandhofer (born 26 October 1966 in Salzburg, Austria), married Katarzyna Marta Wojkowska (born 23 November 1962 in Warsaw, Poland) on 29 May 1983, and had one son:
    • Margareta Elisabeth Sandhofer (born 10 September 1968 in Innsbruck, Austria), married Ernst Helmut Klaus Lux (born 13 September 1954 in Graz, Austria) on 20 June 1992, and had two sons:
      • Maurito Maria Ernst Lux (born 29 April 1999 in Vienna, Austria)
      • Dorian Augustinius Maria Lux (born 12 May 2001 in Vienna, Austria)
    • Andrea Alexandra Sandhofer (born 13 December 1969 in Innsbruck, Austria), married Jörg Michael Zarbl (born 25 September 1970 in Vienna, Austria) on 30 August 1996 and had two sons:
      • Ferdinand Hans Friedrich Konstantin Maria Zarbl (born 8 December 1996 in Salzburg, Austria)
      • Benedikt Bonifatius Maria Manfred Rainer Zarbl (born 19 February 1999)
    • Elisabeth Victoria Madgalena Sandhofer (born 16 November 1971 in Innsbruck, Austria), unmarried and without issue.

Major family events[edit]

  • In 1954, her marriage to Anton ended in divorce. Later that year, she married Dr. Stefan Nikolas Issarescu in Newton, Massachusetts.
  • Eldest son Stefan suffered a debilitating illness in 1959 which required extensive nursing, which his wife and his mother provided.
  • Eldest daughter Marie Ileana and her husband were killed in a plane crash in Brazil, along with their unborn second child. They left an infant daughter.
  • Son Dominic was awarded retroactive rights to Bran Castle in May 2006 by the Romanian authorities as inheritance from his mother Ileana.



  1. ^ Pribich, Kurt (2004). Logbuch der Pfadfinderverbände in Österreich (in German). Vienna: Pfadfinder-Gilde-Österreichs. p. 279. 
  2. ^ Pribich, Kurt (2004). Logbuch der Pfadfinderverbände in Österreich (in German). Vienna: Pfadfinder-Gilde-Österreichs. p. 106. 
  3. ^ a b Pakula, Hannah (1985). The last romantic : a biography of Queen Marie of Roumania. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN 0-297-78598-2. 
  4. ^ Complete text of I Live Again from the Internet Archive

External links[edit]