“Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea,
And love is a thing that can never go wrong,
And I am Marie of Roumania.”
Americans, if they know of Marie at all, will half-remember Dorothy Parker’s typically snarky quatrain above. She deserves a lot better, and so, a short primer.
Marie was born in Kent in 1875, granddaughter of Queen Victoria on her father’s side and Tsar Alexander II on her mother’s. In 1893 she married Ferdinand, heir to the Romanian throne.
It was not the most passionate of marriages, but what she lacked in that area she more than made up for in her love of her new country and its people, and somewhat in the manner of Lady Diana, soon became something of a peoples’ princess. She learned the language, frequently wore the traditional Romanian clothing, and developed a powerful appreciation for her subjects (not least of all the gypsies of Romania and their peculiar culture). Continue reading