Ernest Urdăreanu (1897–1985) was the Minister of the Court during the reign of King Carol II of Romania (1930–1940). As closest confidant of the King Urdăreanu was, alongside Madame Lupescu, the King’s mistress, the third member of the triumvirate which held virtually all power in the state during the thirties of the last century. It is alleged that he was, after the King, the most powerful and the most hated man in Romania. Following the abdication of the King in 1940, Urdăreanu left the country together with him and Madame Lupescu to seek asylum and he stayed with them for the rest of his life.
Little is known about the early years of Ernest Urdăreanu. He had two brothers - an engineer and a businessman. The background of his family was the military; his father was a captain of the army. Urdăreanu also received military training. He was a skilled car driver and interested in motor sports. In 1928 and 1929 he won the first and second Rally of San Remo, on Fiat cars.
Originally a cavalry officer in Craiova, Urdăreanu came in 1931 into the service of the King as an aide in the palace, advocated by Romania's Minister in London, Nicolae Titulescu, who allegedly was a relative of his. He then became head of the palace garage and regular chauffeur of Madame Lupescu. In 1933 he was appointed private secretary of the King, after a conflict between the King and Constantin ‘Puiu’ Dimitrescu, who had been the King’s secretary and ‘watchdog’ from the time of their asylum in France in the late twenties. In 1936 Urdăreanu was promoted to vice-marshal of the palace and a year later marshal of the palace, or head of the royal household.
Urdăreanu was part of the so-called camarilla around the King, which consisted of the King's mistress Elena ('Magda') Lupescu, the wealthy industrialists Nicolae Malaxa, Max Auschnitt and Aristide Blank, Marthe Bibesco and others. This camarilla, partly Jewish (Auschnitt, Blank and Lupescu), attracted much hatred in Romania because of a decadent lifestyle and of their corruption.
Urdăreanu owed his strong position not to any special skills or capacities, but to the unlimited trust of the King and of Madame Lupescu. Contemporaries called him shrewd, sly, slick, resentful and corrupt. In the palace he decided who had access to the King and for what purposes. It was alleged that people who wanted to speak to the King first had to pay Urdăreanu to get access. Urdăreanu also had a decisive vote on political appointments. He is quoted to have boasted: ‘Madame Lupescu controls the King, but I control Madame Lupescu, so I control Romania’. There were also rumours that Urdăreanu and Lupescu were lovers.
Urdăreanu was not only an influential adviser to the King, from 1938 till the end of the reign on September 6, 1940, he was as Minister of the Court the representative of the King in the government. In that capacity he was member of the Crown Council, which took decisions on moments of severe crises - for instance the forced cession of Bessarabia and Transylvania in June and August 1940. According to King Carol II's diary, Urdăreanu voted, on the 28th of June 1940 in the Crown Council, against the cession of Bessarabia to the Soviet Union, no doubt on orders from the King.
In 1938 Urdăreanu accompanied King Carol and Crown Prince Michael on their state visit in the United Kingdom, and afterwards on their visit to the French Government in Paris and Adolf Hitler at Berchtesgaden, although Urdăreanu was not received by the Führer. Urdăreanu served regularly to solve difficult tasks for the King. In February 1939, on occasion of the King's conflict with the historian Nicolae Iorga concerning the King's political party, the National Renaissance Front (FRN), vehemently opposed by Iorga, Urdăreanu was dispatched to the University of Bucharest to stop Iorga publicize his criticism. At the beginning of 1940 Urdăreanu also acted as a representative of the King to reach a settlement with the Iron Guard.
As the King's man Urdăreanu had seat on the board of numerous companies in which Carol II had financial interests. It is generally believed that Urdăreanu was helping the King to transfer large sums of money out of the country and to foreign banks, and that he did not neglect his own financial benefit in the process.
When King Carol and Madame Lupescu were forced to leave the country after the King's abdication on the 6th of September 1940, Urdăreanu accompanied them on their adventurous flight from the country, when the royal train was hounded and shot at by members of the Fascist Iron Guard. First they went to Switzerland and afterwards to Spain, where they stayed in Barcelona, Madrid and Seville. Due to constant pressure from the German and Romanian government for the extradition of Lupescu and Urdăreanu, on account of their suspected crimes and corruption, in March 1941 Urdăreanu organised their flight to Portugal.
After a brief stay in Portugal, Carol, Lupescu and Urdăreanu sought asylum further, first in Cuba, afterwards in Mexico and Brazil. A long-time bachelor, Urdăreanu himself married in 1944 in Mexico the 18 years old Monique Cook. He organized in 1947 in Brazil the marriage of King Carol to Elena Lupescu.
In 1949 all four returned to Portugal, where they set up a household in Estoril, with Urdăreanu still as secretary and chamberlain of the King. After the unexpected death of King Carol in 1953, Urdăreanu organized the funeral in Lisbon, which was not attended by ex King Michael, partly because the latter didn’t want to meet Lupescu and Urdăreanu. Michael, who detested Urdăreanu, used to call him ‘Murdăreanu’ (‘murdărie’ meaning dirt).
After King Carol II's death, Urdăreanu and his wife stayed with Madame Lupescu until her death in 1977. Urdăreanu later died in Portugal in 1985, at 88, never returning to Romania.
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