The centre of the image depicts King Ferdinandon the left, wearing the crown of steel on his head, and Queen Marie, with her crown, on the right. The gowns of the royal couple are represented with an x-ed texture, the king’s trousers with a corrugated texture, and the queen’s dress with a texture of pluses. Above their heads, a canopy is depicted (corrugated texture), which provides shade to the royal couple, and which, in this image, is held by two Romanian soldiers. In the original image, the royal couple is surrounded by tens of soldiers and other dignitaries of the time but, for simplification purposes, they are not depicted in this representation. Also in the original image, one could see in the background the wall of Alba-Iulia Cathedral (built for the coronation), which was also not represented here. Among the people present in the photograph and unrepresented here, we firstly mention the Prime Minister and the ministers of his cabinet, generals of the Romanian Armed Forces during World War I, General Berthelot, royal familymembers, and mayors of more villages.
During 1918, the three Romanian provinces that were part of the neighboring empires that dissolved after World War I – i.e., the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, in the case of Transylvania and Bukovina, and the Tsarist Empire, in the case of Bessarabia – united with Romania. With the aim of celebrating this significant event in the history of Romania, the political leaders of the time planned and subsequently organized Ferdinand I and Marie’s coronation as King and Queen of Greater Romania in a place with great symbolic significance for the history of Romania: the city of Alba-Iulia. The first measures with a view to organizing this event were adopted during Alexandru Averescu’s government (1920-1921). Then, a Coronation Commission was established, made up of personalities of the time, chief among whom General Constantin Coandă, President of the Senate, Metropolitan Miron Cristea, Nicolae Titulescu, Nicolae Iorga, George Enescu, Arthur Verona, Ion Jalea, and Alexandru Lapedatu. One of their decisions was that of building a Coronation Cathedral. Set for October 15, 1922, the coronation was also marked by the refusal of other leaders of the time, such as Iuliu Maniu and Ion Mihalache, and also of the Greek-Catholic Church, to take part in this grandiose moment. According to Ioan Scurtu, the two politicians considered that Ion C. Brătianu and his party, then in power, had transformed the moment in a “mere party parade” [Bibliography 1].
Another historian who dealt with this topic, Constantin Stan, asserts that not only Maniu and Mihalache held this belief but also other political parties. In his study on Miron Cristea and the Alba-Iulia coronation, the latter concludes that, in 1922, “many political forces took this symbolic event as an act of a party policy and not one of a government of an entire country, as it should have been~ [Bibliography 2]. The historian also cites in his study from newspaper Aurora, issued by the Peasants’ Party, which outlines a few of the reasons that determined the two politicians, Maniu and Mihalache, not to participate in the coronation. One was the accusation brought to Brătianu for shooting the rioting peasants in the 1907 revolt and the workers during the strike of December 1918. Also apparent from the quote is the reproach that the coronation was pursued “under the oppressive chairmanship of an arbitrary regime despiteful of the people” [Bibliography 3]. The place of coronation and the insignia of power chosen by the king (the gown and the mace), as well as the name of the youngest member of the royal family (Michael, born on October 25), suggested a continuation of the tradition of the Romanian voivodes after 1918 [Bibliography 4].
The following lines quote a few fragments of the commemorative album of the coronation, on the way in which the event unfolded:
“A great cathedral was erected in Alba-Iulia, whose building took more than a year, and which was consecrated a few days before the chosen day: October 15, 1922. One day before the coronation, there arrived in Alba-Iulia His Sanctity First Metropolitan of Romania, the other metropolitans and all Orthodox bishops from Romania. More than 70 important generals also came. And peasants came in tens of thousands, crowding the city. On the same day, a little bit later, Mr. I. I. C. Brătianu, the Prime Minister, accompanied by Mr. Gen. Mărdărescu, Minister of War and other ministers (who brought the crowns of the two sovereigns, Ferdinand I and Marie) also came. The Royal Family arrived in Alba-Iulia the next day, on October 15, at half past 9 in the morning, travelling by train. […] The cortege formed at the train station and headed to the Cathedral. […] Parading in the cortege were: the flags of the entire Romanian Army with their guards of honor and the military schools. […]Descending from the carriage and entering the church, the Sovereigns seat on their thrones. Foreign missions and the diplomatic corps sit on the right side of His Majesty the King’s throne, while the ministers and the High Officials of the State occupy the seats on the left side of the throne of Her Majesty the Queen. Now, the religious service of the Sovereigns’ coronation begins. Now, Their Majesties go out on the porch of the Cathedral, where a new procession is formed, leading the Sovereigns to the canopy under which the coronation takes place. […] His Majesty King Ferdinand I takes the crown and places it on his head himself. Then, the crowned Sovereign takes the golden crown from the hands of the President of the Chamber of Deputies. Her Majesty the Queen kneels before the Sovereign, according to tradition, and he crowns her” [Bibliography 5].
- Ioan Scurtu, Ferdinand, pp. 119-122.
2-4. Constantin Stan, Elie Miron Cristea și încoronarea Regelui Fedinand la Alba Iulia și București (15-17 octombrie 1922), in ANGVSTIA, no. 11/2007, f. 141-142.
- Cartea încoronării. Album comemorativ al încoronărei MM. LL. Regele Ferdinand și Regina Maria la Alba Iulia în 2/15 octombrie 1922, București, Carmen Sylva Print shop, 1923, pp. 4-14.