Viorel Tilea

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Viorel Tilea
Viorel Tilea in his study
Viorel Tilea in his study
Born6 April 1896 (1896-04-06)
Died20 September 1972 (1972-09-21) (aged 76)
OccupationRomanian diplomat

Viorel Virgil Tilea C.B.E. (6 April 1896 – 20 September 1972) was a Romanian diplomat, most noted for his ambassadorship in the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He died in London. During the Second World War, Tilea lived at Holton Place, Oxfordshire, where he became a key representative of Romania's monarchist regime in exile.

Early life[edit]

He was born in Sibiu. He studied at the Hermannstädter Evangelisches Obergymnasium in Sibiu, before joining the University of Bratislava. However, in 1915, he was conscripted into the Austro-Hungarian Army. He completed his studies at the University of Vienna.[1]

Personal life[edit]

In 1921, he married Eugenia "Gene" Pop in Cluj. After a short stay in London in February 1922, the two returned to Cluj. Tilea published two works, entitled Rolul diplomaţiei în politica de stat ("The role of diplomacy in state policy") and Acţiunea diplomatică a României ("Romanian diplomatic action"), eventually translated into German, Hungarian, Croatian and Bulgarian.[1]

He had three daughters, Ileana Troiano,[2] Ioana Ellerington and Stanca Lipton and a son Scotus Tilea, from his first marriage and a son Ioni Tilea and daughter Anca Tilea from his second marriage to Manuela Monroe. He was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (C.B.E.).[3]


In October 1918, he joined the Romanian National Council, and was soon sent to Geneva, to meet Mr Herron, an American writer, and friend of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. Between February and October 1919, he served as the private secretary of Iuliu Maniu, and from October to December 1919 the private secretary of Alexander Vaida, attending the Paris Peace Conference. It was in that year he became attached to the Romanian Legation in London.[1]

He served as Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Envoy of Romania to London between 1938 and 1940. He was the first to work in 1 Belgrave Square, the current home of the Romanian Embassy in London.[2]

Romanian War Scare (Tilea Affair)[edit]

In mid-March 1939, Tilea falsely reported to the British government that his country was under the verge of an immediate German attack, which led to a U-turn on British policy of resisting commitments in Eastern Europe, as part of Neville Chamberlain's European Policy, which became known as the "Romanian War Scare". In fact, there was no German attack planned on Romania in March 1939, but faced with troops from Romania's arch-enemy Hungary concentrating on the border, and German efforts to secure control of their country's oil industry, the Romanian government had concluded that there was a danger of a Hungarian-German invasion, and had exaggerated the danger level in order to secure British support – the "Tilea Affair". Whether Tilea was deliberately exaggerating the German threat to Romania as a way of gaining British support against the German demands to surrender the control of their oil industry as claimed by the British historian D.C. Watt, or if the Romanians genuinely believed that their country was under the verge of a German invasion in March 1939 as claimed by the American historian Gerhard Weinberg is still unclear.[4]

Role during the Second World War[edit]

In September 1940, a coalition of Horia Sima, leader of the Iron Guard, and General (later Marshal) Ion Antonescu had formed a National Legionary State in Romania, forcing King Carol II to abdicate in favour of his 19-year-old son Michael, who became a figurehead to this new fascist regime. DIning this period, Tilea was recalled from his post in the Romanian Embassy in London, but he decided to stay in England, requesting political asylum.[1] Resigning his post, he co-founded the Free Romanian Movement.[5] In the meantime, Carol II fled to exile in Mexico, where he wrote to his distant cousin, King George VI of the United Kingdom, hoping for British support for an overthrowing of the new government to return it to a monarchy. The British did not support this, however, and hence Tilea would spend the war planning the liberation of Romania by external means with the Allied Powers. Tilea also played a role assisting the efforts the British government did make for the support of monarchists in Romania.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d INFORMAŢII SUPLIMENTARE DESPRE DONATORI. Biblioteca Centrala Universitara din Bucuresti (Bucharest Central University). In Romanian. Accessed 6 August 2010.
  2. ^ a b The Ambassador of Romania to the UK paid a visit to Mrs. Ileana Troiano Tilea Embassy of Romania: London. Accessed 6 August 2010.
  3. ^ Viorel Virgil Tilea. Citing Burke's Peerage. Accessed 8 August 2010.
  4. ^ Watt, D.C. How War Came, Heinemann: London, 1989, 168-176
  5. ^ Eliade, M.; Ricketts, M.L. (2012). The Portugal Journal. State University of New York Press. p. 269. ISBN 9781438429601. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  6. ^ Clark, R. (2001). The ambassador, the live chickens and a royalist throne. The Telegraph. Accessed 6 August 2010.


  • Aster, Sidney, "Viorel Virgil Tilea and the Origins of the Second World War: An Essay in Closure", Diplomacy and Statecraft, 13 (September 2002), 153–74.