"Here is my secret. It is very simple: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.."- Antoine de Saint Exupéry

Marie of Romania

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“Marie of Romania (Marie Alexandra Victoria, previously Princess Marie of Edinburgh; 29 October 1875 – 18 July 1938) was Queen consort of Romania from 1914 to 1927, as the wife of Ferdinand of Romania.

She was born on 29 October 1875 at Eastwell Park in Kent, the eldest daughter of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, and Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia. Her father was the second-eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Her mother was the only surviving daughter of Alexander II of Russia and Maria Alexandrovna of Hesse. She was baptised in the Private Chapel of Windsor Castle on 15 December 1875 and her godparents were the Empress and Tsarevitch of Russia (her maternal grandmother and uncle), the Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (her paternal grandaunt), the Princess of Wales (her paternal aunt) and the Duke of Connaught (her paternal uncle). As her father was in the Royal Navy, she spent much of her early childhood abroad, particularly in Malta.

In her youth, Princess Marie was considered a suitable match for marriage to the Royalty of Europe. Her first cousin, Prince George of Wales, later King George V of the United Kingdom, fell in love with her and proposed marriage. Marie’s father and George’s father approved of the marriage, but their mothers did not. Marie’s mother did not like the British Royal family and George’s mother did not like Germans so the idea of a marriage was mixed. Before Marie could find someone else suitable to marry, her mother found Ferdinand of Romania. He was the German-raised nephew of the King of Romania (and a distant cousin of the rulers of Prussia).

Princess Marie married Prince Ferdinand of Romania, nephew of King Carol I of Romania in Sigmaringen, Germany, on 10 January 1893. The bride was 17 years old and the groom was 10 years her senior. (Marie’s father did not become Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha until a few months later.) The marriage, which produced three daughters and three sons, was not a happy one.Her correspondence with her longtime secret confidante, the American dancer Loie Fuller, revealed “the distaste, which grew to revulsion” that Marie felt for her husband.

The couple’s two youngest children, Ileana and Mircea, were born after Marie met her long-time lover, Barbu Ştirbey. Historians generally agree that Ştirbey was the father of Prince Mircea, who had brown eyes like Ştirbey, unlike Marie and Ferdinand. The paternity of Ileana is uncertain, as is the paternity of Marie’s second daughter, Maria (known as Mignon), the future Queen of Yugoslavia.Ferdinand’s paternity of the three other children, Carol, Nicholas and Elisabeth, has not been disputed.

In 1897, while still Crown Princess, Marie began a romantic liaison with Lieutenant Zizi Cantacuzene. The affair and subsequent scandal became widely known and was quickly terminated by King Carol I. However by autumn 1897, during the height of the scandal, Marie became pregnant. After fleeing to her mother in Coburg, Marie apparently gave birth to a child who has disappeared from history.It has been suggested that the child was either stillborn or quickly placed in an orphanage. Whatever the truth, ‘the story of this mysterious child of Marie of Romania was one secret “she took to the grave.”

In 1899 Marie, pregnant with Mignon, pleaded with King Carol I to allow her to give birth in Coburg, where her father was Duke. Upon the king’s refusal of this request, Marie declared ‘right to his face’ that the child she was carrying was in fact Grand Duke Boris Vladimirovich of Russia‘s. The horrified King relented and Marie gave birth to her daughter, also called Marie but always known as Mignon, in the peaceful surroundings of Coburg. Following this, whether in earnest or merely to deflect criticism from the dynasty, Crown Prince Ferdinand officially recognised the child as his.

Marie’s fourth child and second son, Prince Nicolas, was born in August 1903. The appearance of Pauline Astor, the sister of Marie’s close friend and confidant Waldorf Astor, along with an Astor family doctor during the birth fanned speculation that the father of Prince Nicolas was in fact Astor and not Crown Prince Ferdinand. As with Mignon, Ferdinand accepted the child as his own and as he grew up Nicolas came to resemble his Hohenzollern relatives rather than the Astors.

In 1914, Carol I died and Ferdinand ascended the throne of Romania. Crown Princess Marie then became styledHer Majesty The Queen of Romania. Due to World War I, they were not crowned as King and Queen until 1922.

Marie had become a Romanian patriot, and her influence in the country was large. A.L. Easterman writes that King Ferdinand was “a quiet, easy-going man, of no significant character… It was not he, but Marie who ruled in Romania.” He credits Marie’s sympathies for the Allies as being “the major influence in bringing her country to their side” in the war.

During the war, she volunteered as a Red Cross nurse to help the sick and wounded and wrote a book titled My Country to raise funds for the Red Cross, but these were by no means her most notable contributions to the war effort. With the country half-overrun by the German Army, she and a group of military advisers devised the plan by which the Romanian Army, rather than retreating into Russia, would choose a triangle of the country in which to stand and fight; and through a letter to Loïe Fuller she set in motion the series of events that brought a timely American loan to Romania, providing the necessary funds to carry out the plan. (Fortuitously, the young woman from the US embassy who delivered the letter to Fuller was the former ward of Newton D. Baker, by this time serving as U.S. Secretary of War. Fuller and the young woman travelled from Paris to Washington, DC and secured an audience with Baker who, along with U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Carter Glass, arranged the loan).

After the war ended, the Great Powers decided to settle affairs at the Paris Peace Conference. The Romanian objective was to secure the Romanian-inhabited territories from the now-defunct Austria-Hungary and Russian Empire, thereby uniting all Romanian-speakers in a single state. Romanian diplomats at the peace conference sought to achieve recognition by the Allies of the Unions of BessarabiaBukovina, and Transylvania with Romania, proclaimed during 1918. With the Romanian delegation losing ground in the negotiations, Prime Minister Ionel Bratianu called upon the Queen to travel to France. Marie famously declared that “Romania needs a face, and I will be that face,” astutely calculating that the international press was growing tired of the endless negotiations and would be unable to resist the glamour of a Royal visit. The arrival of the so-called Soldier Queen was an international media sensation and she argued passionately that the Western powers should honour their debt to Romania (which had suffered a casualty rate proportionately far greater than Britain, France or the USA). Behind the scenes, she alternately charmed and bullied the Allied leaders into backing the Romanian cause. As a direct result of her charismatic intervention, Romania won back the initiative and successfully achieved all its pre-conference aims, eventually expanding its territory by 60%, gaining BessarabiaBukovinaTransylvania, as well as parts of the BanatCrişana and Maramureş.

Marie’s son, the Crown Prince Carol (later King Carol II of Romania), was never close to his father, Ferdinand—by the time Carol was an adult, their antagonism became an “open breach”—but there continued to be a “deep bond of affection and sympathy” between Carol and Marie. Their relationship, however, deteriorated. The initial conflict came over Carol’s objections to Marie’s relationship with Prince Ştirbey; the breach was exacerbated as Marie attempted to steer Carol toward a dynastic marriage rather than allow him to choose his own bride.During Carol’s exile in Paris, Loïe Fuller had befriended Carol and his mistress Magda Lupescu; they were unaware of Fuller’s connection to Marie. Fuller initially advocated to Marie on their behalf, but later schemed unsuccessfully with Marie to separate Carol from Lupescu. Eventually, when Carol became King and did not seek her counsel, the breach between mother and son became complete.

After the death of her husband in 1927, Queen Marie remained in Romania, writing books and her memoirs, The Story of My Life. She died in Peleş Castle on 18 July 1938, and was buried next to her husband in the Monastery of Curtea de Argeş. In accordance with her will, her heart was kept in a cloister at the Balchik Palace which she had built. In 1940, when Balchik and the rest of Southern Dobrudja were returned to Bulgaria in accordance with the Treaty of Craiova, Queen Marie’s heart was transferred to Bran Castle.

In 1968 Communist partisans defiled the marble sarcophagus in which the heart was preserved. Both silver coffers containing Queen’s heart were transferred to Bucharest and nowadays are in the custody of National Museum of Romanian History as well as Queen’s heart. The coffers are part of Romanian National Thesaurus and can be seen at National Museum of Romanian History. The decision of preserving Queen’s heart in a museum, even though not open to the public, continues to be a controversial subject.

Bran Castle had been her principal home for much of the early 20th century, and the artefacts with which she chose to surround herself (traditional furniture and tapestries, for example) can be seen by visitors today. Many of her other personal effects can be seen at the Maryhill Museum, formerly the home of Samuel Hill, an American railroad businessman with whom Queen Marie corresponded much of her life. The famous museum, which lies in Washington State (U.S.A.) on the north side of the Columbia River, displays much of Queen Marie’s regalia, furniture, and other possessions, including her crown.

She was the 1,007th Dame of the Royal Order of Queen Maria Luisa.” From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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