Princess Elena of Romania (born 15 November 1950) is the second daughter of King Michael I of Romania and his wife Queen Anne. She is currently second in line of succession to the former Romanian throne and headship of the House of Romania after her elder sister Crown Princess Margareta, who has no issue..
Elena was born in exile on 15 November 1950 at the Mont Choisi Clinic in Lausanne, Switzerland as the younger of two daughters of King Michael I and Queen Anne at the time. She was baptised in the Orthodox faith; her godmother was her paternal grandmother Princess Helen of Greece and Denmark who was also her namesake in the Romanian version.
Elena spent her childhood at her family homes in Lausanne, Switzerland, and in the United Kingdom at Ayot House, St Lawrence, Hertfordshire. During holidays she and her sisters spent time with their grandparents, Helen, Queen Mother in Florence, Italy at Villa Sparta and in Denmark with Princess Margaret and Prince Rene. She and her sisters were told “fascinating tales of a homeland they couldn’t visit” by their father.
She received her primary education in Switzerland and her secondary at Effingham House in Little Common, Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex; she was fond of sports during her school years, playing as Goal defence in the netball team.
In the mid 1970s Elena taught handicapped children for a short period of time in London and after her leave she began a two-year course in art restoration; following the end of her course she worked in an art restoration firm in London.
In the 1980s Elena along with her first husband Robin Medforth-Mills started a project to train 45 handicapped Ethiopian refugees in printing, bookbinding and leatherwork. In 1982 Elena founded an International school in Gezira, Sudan.
In 1990 along with her first husband, the then-Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Terry Cooney, and Harry Charrington was a founder-member of the North-East Relief Fund for Romania, which helped victims of the Ceausescu regime.
On 26 June 2011 Elena and her second husband Lord Alexander Nixon visited the Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College in Darlington, County Durham, England to present awards to students who went to Romania for voluntary work and helping to build and repair housing in Brașov, a project based around the Roma community.
On 3 October 2011 Elena attended the 100th commemorative anniversary of the historic Western travels of `Abdu’l-Bahá in London, as a great granddaughter of Queen Marie who had converted to the Bahá’í Faith, Elena spoke of how her great grandmothers Bahá’í legacy has inspired her to help those of need.
On 25 April 2012, for the Diamond Jubilee festivities of Queen Elizabeth II, Elena and her second husband inaugurated Royal teas: the UK’s only Royal Tea room in Stanhope, County Durham. Following the inauguration, on 19 May Elena along with King Michael I, Crown Princess Margareta, her brother-in-law Prince Radu, her husband Lord Alexander Nixon and her son Prince Nicholas attended a Military parade at Windsor Great Park and a Garden party at Windsor Castle hosted by Prince Andrew, Duke of York and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex.
Elena also annually attends the banquet of the Guild of Freemen of the City of London and the delegation of the Two Sicilian Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George in London.
After 50 years of exile of the Romanian royal family from Romania, in 1990 Elena’s sisters Crown Princess Margareta and Princess Sophie visited Romania for the first time following the Romanian revolution and overthrow of the Communist dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu in December 1989; Elena along with the Royal family were involved to help the Romanians.
Elena’s first official appearance in Romania was on 19 April 1992 on Easter Day along with King Michael I, Queen Anne, her first husband Robin Medforth-Mills, and her son Prince Nicholas, where they were met with hundreds of thousands of supporters; Elena and her son Nicholas famously waved the Royal Flag from a balcony in Revolution Square . She came again on Christmas Day of 1997 when the entire Royal family stepped foot in Romania for the first time after 50 years of exile.
Since her first visit Elena occasionally visited Romania for family gatherings and for occasions such as: the 60th birthday celebration of Crown Princess Margareta[ and the 90th birthday celebrations of King Michael I. However, since 2013 Elena has increased her activities in Romania by attending investiture ceremonies, Presenting awards, book launches and Christmas gatherings.
Elena currently spends her time between England with her second husband Alexander and her daughter Elisabeta-Karina at her estate in Easington, County Durham and in Romania living at Elisabeta Palace.
On 20 July 1983, she married Dr. Robin Medforth-Mills (1942–2002) in a civil ceremony at Durham, England. On 24 September 1983 they married in a royal ceremony at a Greek Orthodox church in Lausanne, Switzerland, it was participated by: King Michael I, his cousin former King Constantine II of Greece and his wife Queen Anne-Marie who all served as Koumbaros; bridesmaids included her youngest sister Princess Maria, her second cousins Princess Alexia of Greece and Denmark and Princess Mafalda of Savoy; and also Fabiola Fruchaud. Guests at the wedding included the Romanian royal family; her maternal grandmother Princess Margaret of Denmark; her maternal uncles Prince Michel of Bourbon-Parma and Prince André; her maternal cousins Prince Phillipe and Princess Lorraine of Bourbon-Parma; Queen Ingrid; Queen Marie José and her daughter Princess Maria Pia of Italy; her fathers cousin Queen Sofía and her daughter Infanta Cristina of Spain; her fathers cousin Prince Amadeo, Duke of Aosta and his children Prince Aimone and Princess Bianca of Savoy; her second cousins Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece and Prince Nikolaos of Greece and Denmark; Prince Leopold of Baden, Robin’s family and also close friends of the couple. Elena and Robin had two children.
Nicholas Michael de Roumanie Medforth-Mills (b. Geneva, Switzerland 1 April 1985), formerly HRH Prince Nicholas of Romania.
Elisabeta Karina de Roumanie Medforth-Mills (b. Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, 4 January 1989), goddaughter of the novelist Catherine Cookson.
The family lived at Flass Hall, Esh Winning, Durham.
They were divorced on 28 November 1991 after 8 years of marriage.
Elena was remarried on 14 August 1998 in a civil ceremony at Peterlee to Alexander Philips Nixon McAteer (b. 1964), The marriage was simple and was attended by the Romanian royal family, the groom’s mother, McAteer and close friends. The groom was given the style His Excellency Domnul Alexander McAteer. For deeply personal reasons, Alexander changed his surname to Nixon. He is a Knight of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George, and holds a number of Romanian decorations. He has consistently refused to take any royal title.