© Warner Bros. Entertainment GmbH

The Royal Train
Austria/Romania 2020

Opening 13 Feb 2020

Directed by: Johannes Holzhausen
Writing credits: Constantin Wulff
Principal actors: documentary

Margaret would be the princess of Romania if there were still a monarchy in that country. After World War II, the Russians invaded Romania, the communists assumed control and King Michael I was forced into exile. In 1989 Romania experienced a revolution, the country became more democratic and Michael returned to live privately. Still today, the royal family has no influence in government, but is slowly rising in popularity, steadily maintained by Princess Margaret, the oldest of Michael’s five daughters. She has a team which supports her in collecting family history and keeping it available for references. She encourages personal appearances and visits, including receiving Charles, the Prince of Wales of England. She connects to the general population by personally visiting their train stations. Her hard-working team surveys which small towns are connected to the railway. They inspect the train station and talk with the town’s representatives to set dates, to clean up the train station, to lay down a red carpet, etc. Then, she and approximately eight other passengers, including her husband, board an old-fashioned train with five cars and take off through the countryside, stopping at each train station where large crowds await them. They play the national anthem, exchange books, flags, and photos, speak a few words and then take off for the next town. What better way to see “royalty” face to face? Times have changed, since the days of Russian control; then it would have been dangerous to cheer anyone from the royal family. 

This film, The Royal Train, adds to the glamor and increases publicity. It will be interesting to anyone familiar with Romania, but it also creates an opportunity to learn something new and compare this activity with other international royal impulses. For example, Meghan and Harry of Great Britain are just the opposite: retreating from any royal connection or responsibility. Meanwhile, Princess Margaret is working hard to make royalty an outstanding, well-loved part of Romania.  (Becky Tan)

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