BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Marina Sturdza, a former Romanian princess who returned from exile to Romania after communism ended to become one of the country's leading humanitarians, has died at age 73, a children's charity said Monday.
Hope and Homes for Children, of which Sturdza was patron, said she died Sunday at her New York home. In March, she visited a home for vulnerable children near Bucharest with Britain's Prince Charles.
Mark Waddington, the charity's chief executive officer, said Sturdza had improved the lives of "thousands of children," praising "the deep well of kindness (of) her huge heart ... matched only by the strength of her backbone and grit in her determination to leave the world in a better place than she found" it.
Descended from two aristocratic families, she left Romania at age 3 in the early years after World War II when communists began ruling the country, finding exile in Canada. She returned in 1997 to set up the International Herald Tribune business summit, the first of its kind. The conference was held in the freshly refurbished Athenee Palace, a hotel that during the war had welcomed Nazis, Western diplomats, reporters, spies and the dispossessed royalty of Eastern Europe as its guests.
Princess Marina, as she was known in Romania, was associated with charities working to move children from state orphanages to family homes. She also dedicated her efforts to palliative care.
"Marina always had an encouraging word, or a gem of wisdom to help you see challenges as opportunities. She would never deny a request for help," Waddington said in a statement.
Humanitarian work aside, Sturdza was known for her elegance and love of fashion. Earlier in her life she was a journalist who covered fashion and the arts.
Funeral plans were not immediately known. She is survived by a stepdaughter.