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And we looked face to face, my people and I. This was my time, that was not given to many beings in the world, for in that hour, my dear Romanians did not idolize only an idea, a tradition or a symbol, but also they idolized a being that they had come to understand. The overseas foreigner was no longer an alien. She was theirs...
In 1914, Romania met the queen that will transform their golden dream into a reality. Although this dream will cost her years of suffering and disappointment, as she always said: 'I’ve always hoped, all my life. No matter how hard life has been, hope always still lyes forward.'
Marie of Edinburgh, Queen Victoria’s niece, married the Crown Prince Ferdinand of Romania, in 1892. The first years of her existence on the Romanian ground were dedicated to learning the Romanian language and the Romanian traditions but also, she nurtured her artistic soul by painting and redecorating the rooms in the Peles Castle.
On the first two years of World War I, Romania was neutral. On 27 August 1916, Romania enters in World War I on the side of the Allied Powers and Ferdinand against his own native land, Germany. The War was the only possibility for Romania to fulfill the national dream that was for decades: the great union and Queen Marie knew this:
The greatest dream of this nation is to make the union of all the provinces. Do you realize the importance you have for this people? To be the king who will realize this dream.
The historians are convinced that King’s Ferdinand decision to enter the war on the side of the Allied Powers was influenced by Queen Marie.
The war reveals the queen’s brave heart and her warrior soul. She was entering all the hospitals and take care of the soldiers, thanking them for all that they have done for their country. The Queen of Romania was often called 'The mother of the wounded' or 'the Queen Soldier'.
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In her book, 'The story of my life' she wrote that not even Dante could imagine a hell more terrible than the one brought by war. Where the suffering, the misery, and the agony were spreading all over. Despite all the illness and danger, Queen Marie continued to bring relief to the soldiers because she knew that her support is their only hope. Often asked by the doctors to put on her rubber gloves, so she will be safe from all the diseases, she will kindly refuse:
All the soldiers kiss my hand and I can not let them kiss a rubber hand
They were in need of a human warm, a hope that will give them the strength to return to their families and also, to make the national dream a reality. She will often ask them how they feel if they were in pain, and almost every one of them will tell her that it doesn’t matter because she will become the Queen of all Romanians.
In all this chaos, Carol II, the king’s and queen’s older son, increased their suffering, deserts the army and leaves his country with his mistress, Zizi Lambrino. They got married in Odessa.
At the end of the year 1918 the war is influenced by the arrival of the American troops, and on 11 November the war ended. On December 1st, the golden dream of the Romanian nation was accomplished. But for now, it was only a reality for the Romanians.
At the Paris Peace Conference, all territorial problems after the war would have been resolved. The conference was led by the Prime Minister of France, Georges Clemenceau; the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, David Lloyd George; the President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson; and the Prime Minister of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele Orlando. The Romanians knew that Wilson will have the decisive word. It was decided that Queen Marie would be sent to Paris, to fight for the cause of Romania.
Romania needs a face. And I will be that face. My Romanians have an almost mystic believe in my powers. Which makes me a bit anxious. One woman’s word can not change the faith of such big events.
Her visit to French Prime Minister Clemenceau became very popular, due to the queen's response. Still, no one can ever confirm it. Clémenceau surnamed 'The Tiger' would have said to her: 'Madame, what you ask is the lion's side!' Which Queen Marie would have answered without hesitation: 'It is what the lioness asks the tiger!' At a time when women's involvement in politics or society was not very much appreciated, Queen Marie dared to ask the French statesman for help to recover its provinces.
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Although she did not have the same success with all the delegates, failing to charm Woodrow Wilson, with her presence in Paris, at the Peace Conference, Queen Marie of Romania managed to tilt the balance in favor of her country.
On October 15, 1922, King Ferdinand and Queen Marie are crowned king and queen of all Romanians at Alba Carolina Fortress.
Her charm and innate elegance made the Queen popular World Wide. Also, through her celebrity, Queen Marie puts Romania on the spot.
A journalist said to her once 'I think you can get the title of the most beautiful woman in the world' and she replied 'That would be exaggerated. But the most beautiful queen, that it’s ok'.
The Queen also becomes the image of some cosmetic campaigns, and in 1924 appears on the cover of Time magazine in America.
The visit to the United States from 18 October to 24 November 1926, in the company of her children, Ileana and Nicolae, is the height of her popularity and the apogee of the popularity of a representative of the Romanian State in the world. The Queen’s visit to the United States of America aroused a wave of attention from the media. Everybody wanted to see the queen who was endowed with the bravery of a man and with the wisdom of a true artist.
I was not prepared for the American custom of throwing papers of every size, shape, and description from the thousands of windows of the extraordinary buildings, who’s tops I can hardly see. The air seems alive with fluttering wings as if whole flocks of birds were let loose in the streets.
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In America, the queen met the mayor of New York, went to Washington DC, visiting the president at the White House, she met the farmers of the western plains and she received the honorary title of `Morning Star` from the native Americans, the Sioux Dakota North Indians.
Her visit to America was suddenly interrupted by the news that the king is seriously ill.
The Queen had a very powerful connection with Bran Castle, a gift from the people of Transylvania, and the Balchik Domain, on the Black Sea. She decorated both of them according to her taste and gave them a piece of her personality. Through her passion, the queen made a new style, combining Art Nouveau with Celtics and Byzantine elements, and with the specific Romanian motifs.
Queen Marie was also passionate about painting and writing, and she loved to combine them. In 1934, Virginia Woold said about the queen that she was the only one from the royal family that had a gift of writing. Because she was the only one to `open the cage` of the royalty, go in the streets, feel the sorrow, the war, the misery, the simplicity of life and the pure joy which comes with it.
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She wrote many books, some of them inspired by her children, others with an autobiographical or presentation of Romania. She also wrote poems, stories or novels. The story of my life, the memoir, was very successful in the United Kingdom between 1934-1936. She was also the first woman invited to chair a Royal Literary Fund dinner.
Looking back, is it hard to say what was the greatest: the joy or the pain? I think the joy was the greatest, but the longest was the pain ...