Funeral held for 'last queen' of Romania

Bucharest (AFP) - Bucharest declared a national day of mourning Saturday as a funeral was held for Anne of Romania, wife of the country's former king, who died this month aged 92.

"We are turning a page on history. Anne was the last queen of Romania, even though she was never crowned," said Adriana Chiriac, a retired doctor and "confirmed monarchist" who was among around 1,000 mourners in the capital.

A descendant of French king Louis XIV, she was born Anne of Bourbon-Parma in Paris in 1923 and married Michael of Romania in 1948, a year after the king abdicated under pressure from the communists when the country became a republic.

The couple were living in Switzerland when Anne died in hospital there on August 1. The former king, now aged 94, said it was "with great sadness" that he was unable to attend the funeral in Bucharest due to his poor health.

Romania's royal family remains popular and recognised since the fall of communism, though only a minority of Romanians are in favour of a return of the monarchy.

"When I was born Romania was still a monarchy, it's too bad that some 25 years ago (with the end of communism) we didn't have Anne as our queen," said 80-year-old pensioner Zenaida Rosu, another mourner at the funeral.

After an Orthodox mass celebrated in the throne room of a former royal palace and another Catholic service in the square outside, Anne was to be buried in an Orthodox cathedral in a private ceremony.

With the king Michael retired from public life, his eldest daughter Margareta now represents the royal family at public events.

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