Monday, September 15, 2014

Balkan Belle

Here's a happy birthday to that Wallis Windsor of the Carpathians, the most scandalous woman of the 1920s (this side of Aimee Semple McPherson, at least) and a most unlikely homewrecker, Mme. Magda Lupescu.

Oh, she may be forgotten or nearly so today, but once upon a time she was an unholy combination of Kardashian and Koo Stark, a headline-making minx with a head of Belle Watling hair and a heavy hand on the makeup brush.  It didn't take much to lead Roumania's weak-minded Crown Prince Carol astray, but she did so quite efficiently.  When Carol bolted early out of Queen Alexandra's funeral at Windsor in 1925, he turned up a few weeks later in Milan arm-in-arm with his moderately dumpy cutie, and nothing was ever quite the same back in Bucharest.

She may have been a troublemaker, but if nothing else she knew a good meal ticket it when she found one, and it wasn't for 22 years that she finally let Carol (at that point permanently ex-King, following a string of increasingly dispiriting misadventures) make her an honest woman, as much as that was humanly possible, in a hotel room in Rio.  By 1953 she was the widowed Princess Elena of Roumania, living in only moderately lavish state on the Mediterranean, and by the time she died in '77, she and her world were as a vanished as Versailles.

Still, it all wasn't bad for a pharmacist's daughter from Jassy, on the whole.  It's hard to say how old exactly she might be today, as she was as vague about her birthday as about almost any other biographical detail you can think of, but she might have been 112.  Or 118.  For what it's worth, this is pretty much the most flattering photo I've ever seen of her.


  1. Replies
    1. Of course, next to her (eventual) mother-in-law, the redoubtable Queen Marie, she looks like a churchmouse!