Maria, Queen of Romania (1875-1938)
by Jesus Ibarra
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King Ferdinand I of Romania
Princess Marie of Edinburgh, Missy. later Queen Maria of Romania
Maria's childhood and youth
  The Duke of Edinburgh's second child and first daughter was born on October 29, 1875 at Esastwell Park in Kent. The girl was batptized as Marie Alexandra Victoria, Princess of Great Britain and Ireland, but she was called Missy in the family. Missy had an overprotected infancy with no preparation for life. She seldom saw her father who was at service in the British Royal Navy, so she grew up under the severe vigilance of her mother, Marie, Duchess of Edinburgh, who was the only daughter of Tsar Alexander II, so Missy, besides being Queen Victoria's granddaughter, was the Tsar's granddaughter too. The most important person for Missy during her childhood was her younger sister Victoria Melita, known as Ducky, to whom she was very attached. Altough being born a year later than Missy, Ducky was taller so she looked older than her sister. Ducky's hair and eyes were dark, in contrast with Missy, whose hair was blonde and had pale blue eyes, and she (Missy) was recognized as the beauty of the family. The Edimburgh sisters used to pay constant visits to their grandmother, Queen Victoria. About these visits Missy wrote: "The silence around Grandmama's door inspired a great respect, as if one got close to the mistery of a sanctuary... when the door was finally opened, we could see Grandmama,  who had not an idol's aspect and who was not frightening at all, and who had a kind smile on her face and was almost as shy as us, children, so the conversation was not fluently by any of both parts... Grandpapa was undoubtely the predominant spirit in these rooms." (Pakula). The Duchess of Edimburgh took her children to Russia as often as she could. Personally, Missy prefered the most cheerful Russian court to the severity of the British Victorian. She vaguely remembered  her Russian grandparents. She remembered her grandfather the Tsar as a "very tall man", and her grandmother, Empress Marie Alexandrovna, who was sick, as a "pale thin woman, in a bed with blue quilts". Missy accompanied her mother to her
grandparents' funeral, about which she wrote; "I have a vaguely remembrance of having been standing near a window of the Winter Palace, and have seen pass a sumptuous and interminable funeral procesion. I couldn't tell if it was Grandmama's or Grandpapa's" (Pakula).
   In 1886, when Missy's father was appointed commander of the British Navy in the Mediterranean, the whole family went to live to Malta. During her years in Malta, Missy lernt to ride the spirited Arab horses of the place. "Which we liked more, was to ride at a very fast gallop", she wrote. Missy made two important male friends in Malta. One of them was Maurice Bourke , who was captain of the Duke's yatch. Maria accepted years later that Maurice had been her first love. The other relation she made in Malta was the one with her cousin Prince George, the future King George V of Great Britain, who was in Malta under the orders of his uncle the Duke of Edinburgh. George was very attached to the Edimburgh sisters, specially to Missy. When he was sailing he constantly wrote her: "I'm dying for seeing you, my lovely are always in my toughts" (
Pakula)   It was obvious that Prince George, who was already 20, was waiting for Missy to grow up.
   In 1889, the Edinburghs left Malta and went to live to Coburg, since the Duke was heir to the ducal throne. Queen Victoria was enthusiastic about a marriage between Missy and George and so were their respective fathers, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales. On the other hand, their mothers, the Duchess of Edinbugh and the Princess of Wales didn't approve the idea. The Duchess hated everything related to England and she was decided to avoid any British engagement. In fact she had another candidate for Missy: a cousin of Kaiser Wilhelm II, a Hohenzollern prince from the Sig,maringen branch, Ferdinand, who was Crown prince of Romania.
Missy's Russian grandparents, Tsar Alexander II and Empress Marie Alexandrovna, with their son and heir the future Alexander III (standing)
Ferdinand of Romania
  Ferdinand of Hohenzollern Sigmaringen was born on August 24, 1865. His parents were Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern Sigmaringen and Princess Antonia of Portugal, daughter of the Queen of Portugal, Maria Da Gloria, and her consort, Prince Ferdinand of Saxe Coburg, a first cousin of Queen Victoria. Ferdinand was a shy and quiet man, who like to read, hunt and colect plants. His father's brother was King Carol I of Romania, who had lost his only child in 1874, and his heir should then had to be his brother's son. Ferdinand had to leave his peaceful life when he was oficially named Crown Prince of Romania in 1889 and went to live to Bucharest; from then on, he began a boring life at the Balcans. King Carol forbid his nephew to have friends so his only companion was the King himself. King Carol's wife was Elisabeth of Wied, who was a poet and sign her works under the pseudonymous of Carmen Sylva. Ferdinand felt in love with one of Queen Elisabeth's ladies in waiting, the Romanian Elena Vacaresco. But the Romanian laws forbid the heir to marry a Romanian, so he was obliged to forget about her and to look for a suitable European princess to be his wife. When he mat Missy, he liked her. He heard about Queen Victoria's plans to marry her to Prince George, and he was afraid the Queen could interfere in his intentions about Missy. But he had the support of Missy's mother who sent him consatnt messages, encouraging him to proposed her daughter.
Missy and her sisters: from left to riight, Baby Bee, Ducky, Sandra and Missy
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Tom Kinter's Place

information about Romania and the Romanian Queens, Elisabeth (Carmen Sylva) and Marie