The Scintillating Life of Queen Marie of Romania
Granddaughter of Queen Victoria and Tzar Alexander II of Russia, the woman who would one day become Queen of Romania was born Princess Marie of Edinburgh in Kent, England in 1875 to Prince Alfred of Edinburgh and Grand Duchess Marie Alexandrovna of Russia.
Marie grew into one of the most beautiful and wealthiest princesses of Europe. She was also known for her spunk and talent (writing, painting, sculpting, and horsemanship). After refusing a proposal from her first cousin, the future King George V (her parents did not believe first cousins should wed), a marriage was arranged in 1892 between seventeen-year-old Marie and Crown Prince Ferdinand of Romania, heir apparent of King Carol 1st.
Arriving in her husband’s country, she struggled to gain some kind of foothold in the male-dominated Romanian Court. Her high-spirited disposition often created controversy. Also, she did not fit in with the somber climate of her household. But Crown Prince Ferdinand, a short and rather homely man, was also weak-willed. Easily swayed by his beautiful and intelligent royal consort, soon Marie was all but running the Romanian government. Although she and Ferdinand eventually became good friends, their lives rarely intertwined once she took power. Albeit a flamboyant, egotistical woman who loved pomp and pageantry, the people loved her. She was kind to them and she listened to them.
Not long after her marriage, Marie met Lieutenant Gheorghe Cantacuzène, a member of an ancient Romanian princely family. Like Marie, he was high-spirited and known for his expert horsemanship. They became romantically involved, but once the affair became public knowledge, Marie was sent away. She gave birth to a child who was either stillborn or sent to an orphanage. Her second child, Mignon, was rumored to have been fathered by Cantacuzène as well.
Throughout the years, Marie became romantically involved with several men, mostly for political purposes, including Waldorf Astor; Grand Duke Boris Vladimirovich of Russia; Prince Barbu Stirbey, who was briefly Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Romania; Waldorf Astor, 2nd viscount Astor, and Joe Boyle, a wealthy businessman who was made even richer from Klondike gold; and).
On 28 June 1914, while visiting Sarajevo, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire was assassinated. This was the bullet that started WWI. Marie aligned herself with Russia, France and Britain, in part due to her British ancestry. A clever woman, she also aligned herself with powerful political figures like Winston Churchill. The end of the war saw the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Marie traveled to Versailles, representing Romania, in hopes of acquiring as much goodwill for her country as possible. She wooed the ministers so well that they not only gave back her territory, they promised not to partition her. Using her charm and wit, Marie ended up doubling Romania’s kingdom, and increasing the population by ten million! Needless to say, Hungarians were not charmed by Marie. On the contrary, they hold her in a large part responsible for the dismemberment of Hungary.
After the war, Marie met Samuel Hill, a wealthy entrepreneur (son-in-law to railroad magnate James Hill, founder of the Great Northern Railway) at a peace conference in Paris. Their steamy affair led her to a lengthy visit to the U.S. While in the U.S., Marie became fairly popular with the suffragettes who viewed her as "a woman whose wits had devised many a coup d'état, whose brains had thought out many a difficult problem for her people, who had used the gifts given her to further every good purpose".
In 1923, she visited the Unitarian Church in Indianapolis (the Unitarian religion was founded in Transylvania). A photograph of her with the church minister still hangs on the vestibule wall. She returned to Romania when her husband the king became gravely ill.
Having lived a scintillating life by anyone’s standards, Queen Marie died in 1938 of cirrhosis of the liver, although she claimed to never have touched a drop of alcohol. The late Constantin Argetoianu, Prime Minister of Romania, called Queen Marie one of the greatest figures in Romanian history. In her memory, the Order of the Cross of Queen Marie was established in that country.
Click on this link for a virtual tour of the beautiful palace Peles, home to Queen Marie, and located just outside Transylvania in the beautiful countryside: http://visit.peles.ro/
Kathleen Bittner Roth thrives on creating passionate stories featuring characters who are forced to draw on their strength of spirit to overcome adversity and find unending love. Her own fairy tale wedding in a Scottish castle led her to her current residence in Budapest, Hungary, considered one of Europe’s most romantic cities. However, she still keeps one boot firmly in Texas and the other in her home state of Minnesota. A member of Romance Writers of America®, she was a finalist in the prestigious Golden Heart® contest. Find Kathleen on Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, Pinterest and www.kathleenbittnerroth.com.