These are a few more of the real people who feature in my alternative history, whom I haven’t already discussed. Writing about real people as characters can feel awkward and self-conscious at first, but it gets easier if one thinks of them as characters who just happen to have been real people. They’re not sacred cows.
King Carol II of Romania (15 October 1893–4 April 1953), firstborn child of King Ferdinand and Queen Marie (one of my favouritest queens), ruled Romania from 8 June 1930–6 September 1940. Prior to that, he’d renounced his rights to the throne over his affair with commoner Magda Lupescu, who became his third wife.
Marie and Ferdinand (who was nearing the end of his life) set up a regency for Carol’s 5-year-old son Mihai. Then Carol decided he’d like to be king after all, and took the throne from his own son. This guy was a complete serpent’s tooth, megalomaniac, egomaniac, scumbag, lousy husband, dictator, fascist enabler, the works.
In my alternative history, Aleksey and his wife, Empress Arkadiya, visit Carol in late summer 1940 to negotiate the release and Russian resettlement of Romania’s half-million-strong Jewish community, along with the Romani and interred Polish nationals. They demand Bessarabia and northern Bukovina back as part of the deal, so they can protect even more of Europe’s Jewish community.
Prince Gorm of Denmark (Gorm Christian Frederik Hans Harald) (24 February 1919–26 December 1991), fourth child and firstborn son of Prince Harald and Princess Helena, paternal grandson of King Frederick VIII and Queen Louise. He was born and raised in the Jægerborghus estate.
In 1938, Gorm entered Naval service, and became an officer in the Royal Life Guard. During the Nazi occupation, in 1943, he was among the sailors who escaped to Sweden with the Danish Brigade. They were part of the Danish Resistance. His mother, meanwhile, frequently hobnobbed with Nazis, and was a source of great shame to everyone else in the Danish Royal Family.
In my alternative history, Gorm marries Aleksey’s oldest niece, Princess Isidora Igorovna, his second-cousin once-removed through Dowager Empress Mariya Fyodorovna’s paternal line. Their oldest son, Oskar, is the fifth generation stricken by hemophilia.
In real life, Gorm never married or had kids.
Princess Ileana of Romania (5 January 1909–21 January 1991), King Carol’s youngest sister. It’s widely suspected her father was Queen Marie’s lover Prince Barbu Ştirbey, not King Ferdinand. Ileana was very popular in Romania, and considered herself Romanian down to the very core of her soul. Prior to Carol forcing her out of the country, she lead Romania’s Girl Guides.
Carol, deeply jealous of her popularity, was desperate to get her out of the country, and encouraged her to marry Archduke Anton of Austria, Prince of Tuscany. He then claimed the people wouldn’t tolerate a Habsburg on their soil. Carol likewise refused to let her return home to give birth to her firstborn Stepan in her native land. (He also forced their brother Nicolae to leave Romania because of his morganatic marriage.)
During WWII, she was very active in nursing war wounded. In 1944, after her nephew King Mihai joined the Allies, she and her family returned to Romania. Following Mihai’s forced abdication at the end of 1947, they fled to the West. In 1961, she became a nun, and was tonsured as Mother Alexandra in 1967.
In my alternative history, Ileana is one of the princesses most strongly preferred for Aleksey, but his heart becomes set on morganatic princess Arkadiya. Ileana later appears at the meeting with Carol, where she chews him out about how he essentially tricked her into leaving the country she loves so dearly. Until the fascists in Romania are overthrown, Aleksey and Arkadiya host Ileana and her children in their palace.