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Queen Marie

Marie, aged seven, in an 1882 portrait by John Everett Millais

Princess Marie Alexandra Victoria of Edinburgh a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, was born on 29 October 1875 to Her parents were Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh and Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia, at Eastwell Park, just outside of Ashford. Growing up primarily at Eastwell Park and Clarence House, the family also spent some time living in Malta where her father was stationed several times, most recently from 1886-1889. After Malta, they took up residence in Coburg, where her father had become heir-presumptive to his uncle, the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Missy, as she was known in the family, had always been very close with her cousin, the future King George V and the two considered marriage. While Queen Victoria and both of their fathers were very supportive of the match, their mothers were not. Instead, Marie was soon engaged to Ferdinand the Crown Prince of Romania. After gaining the approval of Queen Victoria, Marie and Ferdinand were married on 10 January 1893.

Just after the beginning of World War I, King Carol I died and Ferdinand ascended the Romanian throne. Drawn quickly into the war, the new Queen Marie threw herself into her charitable work, rallying support for the war effort, and serving tirelessly as a nurse. In 1919, after the war, she represented Romania at the Paris Peace Conference, replacing the Romanian delegation which had left due to extreme conflict with the French prime minister. The Queen is often credited with smoothing the situation and helping to bring about Romania’s huge gains at the end of the conference.

Coronation portrait of Queen Marie, decked in full regalia

In 1922, a huge coronation ceremony was held for Ferdinand and Marie in Alba Iulia.

The next years saw The Queen travel extensively. Visits to Britain and the United States brought huge crowds out to see the famous Queen of Romania. Soon after her return to Romania, King Ferdinand died on July 20, 1927.

Queen Marie of Romania died on July 18, 1938, at Pelişor Castle. Her body lay in state for three days at Cotroceni Palace before she was buried at the Curtea de Argeş Cathedral. At her request, her heart was interred in the Stella Maris chapel at her beloved Balchik Palace. After Balchik became part of Bulgaria, Queen Marie’s heart was moved to a chapel at Bran Castle by her daughter Ileana, then to the National History Museum when the chapel at Bran Castle was desecrated by the Communists.  Finally, in 2015, Queen Marie’s heart was brought to its final resting place, at Pelişor Castle, where it was placed on display in the room where Marie died.