Romania buries 'Queen Anne' in lavish funeral

AP News
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Posted: Aug 13, 2016 12:24 PM
Romania buries 'Queen Anne' in lavish funeral

CURTEA DE ARGES, Romania (AP) — As church bells rang, thousands of Romanians turned out Saturday in a central town for the grand funeral and burial of the woman they call Queen Anne, the wife of Michael, the last king of Romania.

Romania and neighboring Moldova both observed a national day of mourning Saturday for Anne. Soldiers placed her royal flag-draped coffin, which arrived 45 minutes late, on a catafalque outside a cathedral in a park in Curtea de Arges. A phalanx of Orthodox priests sung the funeral liturgy addressing her as "Queen Anne."

Following a short private service, she was buried inside the unfinished brick cathedral. People clapped and members of the royal family shook hands with people in the crowd.

Anne died Aug. 1 in Switzerland at the age of 92. She first visited the country only 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.

"She was a symbol of our country," said Eugenia Cristescu, a 79-year-old singer in a 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 the journey to Curtea de Arges, where members of the royal family are buried. Her body has lain in state this week in Romania.

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Four of the couple's five daughters were present for the 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., did not attend.

Michael, 94, has cancer and is living in Switzerland. He did not attend the funeral on the advice of doctors.