Tuesday, 8 December 2009

My latest article: Obituary of Princess Grete Sturdza

Following the aforementioned death of the Norwegian-born Princess Grete Sturdza on 29 November I have gathered some information about her and compiled a short obituary which is published in Aftenposten today.
The basic biographical facts are that she was born in Oslo on 27 April 1915 as the daughter of a Norwegian father and a Russian mother. She won a Norwegian junior championship in tennis and studied British literature and philosophy at Magdalen College in Oxford. There she met the law student Prince Gheorghe (Georges) M. Sturdza, who belonged to a Romanian princely family which included two sovereign princes of Moldavia and one Romanian prime minister.
Having known each other for 1 ½ year they married in St Nikolaus’s Orthodox Church in Oslo on 12 April 1937 and settled in Iasi in Romania. They had three sons. In the years after World War II, when Romania was hit by famine and draughts, Princess Grete Sturdza and her mother-in-law were involved in relief work and were able to draw upon Princess Grete’s acquaintanceship with Folke Bernadotte.
The Sturdzas had to flee Romania when the monarchy fell in December 1947. With the help of the Swedish minister the Princess and her children managed to flee to Prague, while her husband walked on his feet from Iasi to Vienna.
The family first came to Norway, but later moved to Varangeville-sur-Mer near Dieppe in Normandy. There the Princess in 1957 opened the private botanical garden Vasterival, where she collected 10,000 different species. She was honorary President of the International Dendrological Society and received a number of other honours.

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