Carol II of Romania (15 October/16 October 1893 – 4 April 1953) reigned as King of Romania from June 8, 1930 until September 6, 1940. Eldest son of Ferdinand I, King of Romania, and his wife, Queen Marie, a daughter of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, the second eldest son of Queen Victoria. He was the first of the Romanian royal family who was baptized in the Orthodox rite.
Carol was born in Peleş Castle. In November 1914, Carol joined the Romanian Senate, as the 1866 Constitution guaranteed him a seat there upon reaching majority. Known rather for his romantic misadventures than for any leadership skills, Carol (Romanian for "Charles") was first married in the Cathedral Church of Odessa, Ukraine, 31 August, 1918, in contravention of royal law, to Joanna Marie Valentina Lambrino, ("Zizi" Lambrino) (1898–1953), daughter of a Romanian general; they had one son, Mircea Gregor Carol Lambrino, and the marriage was annulled by decision of the Ilfov Tribunal in 1919. He next married, in Athens, Greece, on 10 March, 1921, Princess Helen of Greece and Denmark (who was known in Romania as Crown Princess Elena), but the marriage soon collapsed in the wake of the king's affair with Elena "Magda" Lupescu (1895?–1977), the Roman Catholic daughter of a Jewish pharmacist and his Roman Catholic wife. Magda Lupescu had formerly been the wife of Army officer Ion Tâmpenu. As a result of the scandal, he renounced his right to the throne on 28 December 1925 in favour of his son by Crown Princess Helen, Michael (Mihai), who became King in July 1927. Helena divorced Carol in 1928. Carol also had a son and a daughter by his mistress Maria Martini, a high-school student.
Through all these adventures, he became known above all as a playboy king. Purported eyewitnesses even claim him to have gone with a famous prostitute, Foamea Neagră, from the Crucea de piatră district. A fictionalized version of the episode is narrated by Petru Dumitriu in his novel Cronică de familie (Family Chronicle).
An excellent fictionalized account of life in Bucharest in the final years of Carol's reign can be found in Olivia Manning's novels The Great Fortune and The Spoilt City.
Some believe Carol left Romania in a train laden with royal treasure -- paintings by Old Masters such as Titian, Rubens, and Rembrandt, hundreds of canvasses, jewels, the armor that had decorated the walls of the royal palaces of Pelişor and Peleş --, while others accuse his son, Michael, of the same things. A death squad of Iron Guard legionnaires fired on the royal train, but failed to stop it. The sale in Portugal of much of this treasure gave him enormous wealth, which he spent lavishly, living a life of wasteful luxury.
Carol and Magda Lupescu were married in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on 3 June, 1947, Magda taking the title of Princess Elena von Hohenzollern. Carol remained in exile for the rest of his life. He was never to see his son, King Michael, after his 1940 departure from Romania. Michael refused to meet his father ever again.