Among those listed in the gallery of the great figures in Romania during the 20th century, Queen Marie, together with Ferdinand I, will always be remembered as the figure that has directly influenced the formation of the United Romania and its international recognition while at the same time granted an illustrious radiance to the Romanian monarchy… Motto: „…How amazing the power of recollection is!“ – Queen Marie
Among those listed in the gallery of the great figures in Romania during the 20th century, Queen Marie, together with Ferdinand I, will always be remembered as the figure that has directly influenced the formation of the United Romania and its international recognition while at the same time granted an illustrious radiance to the Romanian monarchy…
But how many young people, and how many others, will nowadays remember the „Soldier Queen“ and „Mother of all helpless“ or the Queen of the Great Unification?
A typical British autumn month in the Kent district… Eastwell Park, on October 29th, 1875, in a Victorian era, Marie Alexandra Victoria was born, the second child of Alfred, Duke of Kent Ulster, son of Queen Victoria of Great Britain and Ireland and Duchess Maria Alexandrovna Romanov, daughter of Tsar Alexander II of Russia.
The future Queen of a future sovereign country, Marie, born in the Royal Family of the British Empire, descending from illustrious grandparents, one ruling over Great Britain and the other one over the Great Russia, her aunt Empress of Germany, was born three years before the recognition of the independence of Romania, the country that she would become the Queen.
At the early age of 17, Marie (Missy, as Queen Victoria of England called her) married the successor to the throne of Romania, Prince Ferdinand of Hohenzollern, occasion on which the municipality of the capital of the country offered her a silver goblet on which was engraved: „Welcome you blessed God-sent bride, chosen to bring us worthiness“(1893).
Next to Ferdinand, the successor Prince of Romania, until the death of King Carol I in 1914, Queen Marie would become mother and politician, host for European Princes and Kings, guests of the Royal Romanian Family, but equally emissary and illustrious guest of the Royal courts of the ancient continent. She would be cherished and in love and would set up relations that will last for a lifetime…
The period of the First World War was, for Romania as well as for Queen Marie, a transition from ecstasy to agony, but later on, the true belief and the uptight fight have revived the hopes of a people put through a tough endurance test.
„Really, Romania, more than ever, I have been your mother during those moments, raising from within, feeling your heart beat inside mine, your blood being my blood. I was living your hopes, I could feel your deepest fears, crying your tears and bleeding through your wounds. I saw you decayed, torn, and then Oh God All Mighty!, betrayed and abandoned to your own destiny. I saw you go down, deep into the mist but I have also seen you find your way back to the light of dawn…“ (Queen Marie: „The story of my life“).
During the time of the Balkan wars as well as during the First World War, the Queen stood in the midst of brave wounded and dying soldiers. She put her life to risk to be next to them … „No matter how terrifying all those misfortunate days were, I cannot but bless them all for they have brought me closer to my people…“ (Queen Marie: „The story of my life“).
Between 1914 and 1916, Romania’s indecision regarding the participation in the war but also due to the huge oil reserves that our country was holding at the time, determined Marshal Hindenburg of Germany to explain: „If, by misfortune, Romania joins forces with Antanta’s powers, our fuel supply would find its end. Romania should be taken over, as a preventive measure. No country, so small as Romania has ever had the chance to play such an important role in the history of humanity at such a favorable time…“ (Guy Gauthier: „Missy, Queen of Romania“).
Our country’s joining the First World War, the occupation of an important part of the country and the capital of Bucharest by the German Army, the retreat of the army to Iasi and the evacuation of the Royal Family, the memorable fights at Oituz, Marasti and Marasesti, the Bolshevik revolution in Russia and Romania’s armistice with Germany in 1917, made Queen Marie be the only one who, despite so many pains and sufferings, never seized to believe in the victory of the allies and in her magnificent dream, namely: the Unified Romania.
For her strong belief, for the grievance she so utterly pursued, through the courage and self-denial she showed, Queen Marie was, no doubt, an outstanding figure at the Peace Conference held in Paris.
In the spring of 1919, Paris welcomed her as a great Queen and she would review the Republican guard at the Elysée Palace, in the presence of the President of France, Raymond Poincaré. She will be admitted as correspondent member of the Belle-Arte Academy, Queen Marie being the first woman to have ever been granted such an honor since the set up of the Academy by Napoleon.
One of the most remarkable meetings of the Queen remains, however, the one with the Prime Minister of France, Georges Clemenceau commonly called the Tiger. The dream of an Unified Romania had finally come true on December 1st, 1918, but the great powers had not yet started the Peace Conference and the Unification had not yet been acknowledged. That was still a reason for Queen Marie to keep fighting:
„… – Your Highness, what you’re asking for is the most important share!
– That is why, Mr. Prime Minister, the Lioness addresses to the Tiger and not elsewhere…!“ (Queen Marie: „The story of my life“).
In October 1920, the Conference in Paris acknowledges the delimitation of the frontiers of the unified country. Her everlasting dream, unification of the Romanian provinces was now completely achieved.
After two years, in October 1922, in Alba Iulia, King Ferdinand and Queen Marie would be crowned as sovereigns of the Unified Romania. King Ferdinand’s crown was the one belonging to Carol I, made from the steel of a cannon captured at Plevna whereas Elizabeth’s crown had been made of gold, in 1920, in Paris, garnished with precious stones, having a pendant with a disc representing the coats of arms of Romania and Great Britain on the sideways, as an homage brought to Marie’s origin.
„…Brightened by the mild rays of the sun in Romania, one that I have always been so keen on, I kneeled in front of my husband to allow him to put the crown of gold on my head…The golden royal mantle glittered in the colors of a fading sun… Embroideries were noticeable, emblems of all the provinces that made up the new unified country. Each of these emblems was separated by all others by wheat ears, the main wealth of the country…!“ (Queen Marie: „The story of my life“).
During the following years, Queen Marie, together with King Ferdinand, would take part in tours in Europe, and later on, all by herself, she will engage in a long trip in the United States. Through marriages of her children, she will eventually manage to establish tight relations between the Romanian Royal House and other ruling dynasties in the Balkans…
A hot summer month in Bucharest … July 24, 1938… The capital, the entire country is wearing mauve … her color … passing into eternity on a gun-carriage, Queen Marie makes her last pass over the city, unbearable silently…
„…Behind the coffin, her horse was carrying her twisted boots. A soldier’s funeral ritual. That was, in fact, Queen Marie: the last soldier to fight for the freedom of the ultimate Romanian land.“ (Guy Gauthier: „Missy, Queen of Romania“).
Cherished by her people, esteemed by European monarchies, and respected by the political figures of the first four decades of the last century, for Romanian citizens, Queen Marie will always be the golden icon of „Virgin Marie’s Garden”.
We would like to hereby express our appreciation to the Royal Family of Romania for all their support provided for the release of the stamps issue.
We would also like to express our appreciation to Mrs. Diana Mandache for the documentary material set to our disposal.
Issue date: 2008-07-15