The National Bank of Romania has released new commemorative coins which remember a very special anniversary in modern Romanian history. It is one hundred years since the ornate and symbolic coronation of Romania’s King Ferdinand took place in 1922, eight years after his accession. After 25 years as the adopted heir to the childless Romanian King Carol I, Crown Prince Ferdinand and his vivacious wife Princess Marie succeeded his paternal uncle to the throne of Romania in 1914. This was the same year the Great War ignited in Europe between the Allied powers of Great Britain, France, and Imperial Russia against the Central powers of Imperial Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Turks. The country had hoped to celebrate the new king and queen’s accession, but it was believed to be inappropriate to arrange a lavish celebration with the real possibility war could engulf the nation at any minute. King Ferdinand instead warned that the country should prepare for any eventuality, and despite having been born a prince of Germany, he sided with the Allied cause and brought his country into the war on their side.
His decision resulted in the occupation of Bucharest by Imperial German troops by the end of 1916 and the relocation of his beleaguered government to the city of Iași. During this time, the king managed to avert a potentially revolutionary situation similar to the occurrences of Russia in 1917 by promising land reform and the right to vote to a wider spectrum of the population. Ultimately in March 1918, Romania was forced to surrender to the Central powers but managed to rejoin the Allies in November 1918 just before the capitulation of Imperial Germany and Austria-Hungary. At that time, his armies were able to incorporate Transylvania, then part of Hungary – Bukovina, then part of Ukraine, part of the Banat, and Bessarabia, in present-day Moldova, into a Greater Romanian state. With the additions of these territories, Ferdinand thus found his post-war kingdom doubled in size, population, and pressing issues such as democratic reform.
In 1920 King Ferdinand wielded royal authority and appointed his own choice for premier who, in 1921, finally enacted a measure of the king’s long-promised land reform. With war at an end, the doubling in size of his realm and land reform enacted, the king believed it was finally time to celebrate his and the queen’s accession. In October 1922 and during an ages-old ceremony, Ferdinand, though in a break from tradition, placed the steel crown of Carol I on his own head. This was due to the fact he had been born into the Catholic faith and could not consent to being crowned by a member of the Eastern Orthodox Church. At this moment, he was recognised as King of all Romanians, and moments later, he placed the queen’s crown on her head. This all took place outside and on the grounds of the Cathedral of Iulia-Alba, instead of indoors. To mark the occasion, exceptional 50-lei gold coins bearing the formal effigies of the royal couple on both the obverse and reverse were minted. However, it is believed they were not produced until after the death of King Ferdinand. The scandalous lives of some members of the royal family, particularly that of his son the crown prince, would plague the health of the king. So concerned with the future of the monarchy, King Ferdinand forced his son, Crown Prince Carol, to renounce his rights to the throne in 1925 in favour of his only son. This renunciation, together with Ferdinand’s last will, secured the succession of his six-year-old grandson, Prince Michael, upon the king’s death in 1927. Queen Marie, who acted as regent for her young grandson, outlived her husband by 11 years, passing away in 1938.
The gold and silver Proof coins are produced by the Monetăria Statului, Romanian State Mint, on behalf of the National Bank. The obverse side, which is shared on both gold and silver coins, replicates the portraits of the foyal couple shown on the original gold coins minted in 1922; the portraits were created from photographic images taken soon after their crowning. The king is shown wearing the Steel Crown of King Carol I, which was forged from the steel of a cannon captured by the Romanian Army from the Ottomans during its War of Independence. Queen Marie is shown wearing a custom crown made especially for the occasion and from gold mined in Transylvania. The medieval style is inspired by a fresco of the Curtea de Argeş Monastery and with side pendants specific to Byzantine imperial diadems. Superimposed on each depiction are signature facsimiles of the King and Queen and latent alternating images containing the numeral 100 and ANI. The inscription above the primary design reads INCORONAREA DE LA ALBA IULIA (“Coronation at Alba Julia”).
The reverse side features a vintage image of the Cathedral of Julia Alba as it was seen at the time of the coronation. The crest of the Romanian Republic is positioned just to the left of the steeple of the cathedral, and the text ROMANIA is placed along the upper edge above the primary design. The denomination 500 LEI (gold) or 10 LEI (silver) is superimposed over the cathedral, and the year of issue 2022 is shown just below.
|10 lei||.999 Silver||31.1 g||37 mm||Proof||5,000|
|500 lei||.999 Gold||31.1 g||35 mm||Proof||1,000|
Available from the 31st October, each encapsulated coin is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity containing the signatures of the NBR governor and the central cashier. They are available directly through the Bucharest, Cluj, Iasi, and Timişoara regional branches of the National Bank of Romania. For additional information, please visit their website.