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Dictator With Deep Suitcases Had Queen Hiding the Silver

May 13, 1991|From Reuters

LONDON — Britain's Queen Elizabeth II ordered guest rooms stripped of valuables before a state visit by Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in 1978, a British newspaper said Sunday.

Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, were executed by firing squad during the 1989 Romanian revolution.

The Sunday Express said the couple removed thousands of dollars worth of ornaments and fittings from rooms during an official stay in Paris earlier in the year.

The newspaper report, headlined "Lock Up the Crown Jewels, Here Comes Light-Fingered Nic," is based on a British Broadcasting Corp. television documentary.

The program will be shown on Tuesday.

It said that before the couple arrived in London on the next leg of a European tour, former French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing telephoned Buckingham Palace to warn Queen Elizabeth.

Giscard d'Estaing described how lamps, vases, ashtrays and bathroom fittings had been removed. "It was as if burglars had moved in for a whole summer," he told the BBC.

Ceausescu's security officials also reportedly gouged holes in the walls looking for bugging devices.

The queen ordered palace security officers to keep a close watch on the couple.

The program said the queen later described the visit as the worst three days of her life.

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