"the" Mrs. Astor

Saturday, March 28, 2009

To this day, Leopoldo always questions why we get mail addressed to "Marie, Queen of Romania". Simply put, every time an address request for a mailing list is presented to me, that is what I sign. It puts a slight smile on my face when I open an invitation addressed to her.

Marie was a charismatic player in the history of Europe. Born the granddaughter of both Queen Victoria and Tsar Alexander II, she found herself in the fireplace of WWI as the consort of King Ferdinand of Romania as that country daringly sided with the allies. Open to devastating attacks by the German and Austrian forces and with the Imperial Russian army falling back, Marie used her considerable talents to lobby America for a loan to fight off the attack and retreat into a triangle that she labored to hold. Against all odds, she got the loan before America entered the war, and personally led her troops to hold what was left of Romania.

When the war ended and the allies were not inclined to consider the vast expense Romania had paid in funds and bodies to hold the Germans back, she gathered her vast charms and went to Paris to argue the cause of Romania. She won over every diplomat with her expanse of language and--most of all--charm. In the end, Romania was tripled in size and Marie returned to a war-ravaged country deeply indebted to her moxy. Marie was about as popular as Princess Diana; the public reveled in the fact that she put country before self and she was greatly admired on her visit to America in 1926. She died at Castle Bran, reputed to be Dracula's last fortress, in 1938, fortunately just before he beloved country would be ravaged again, this time by Hitler.

There is much more behind my smile when I get an invitation to some club that is addressed to Marie, Queen of Romania. Maybe it is just a small way to acknowledge the great work that woman did for her country, that wasn't really her country, but adopted. Sometimes you do what is right.


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