what is the use of being a queen if you can’t take a lover?

Marie of Romania (1875-1938) was a British Princess by birth and a Romanian Queen by marriage.


Princess Marie married Prince Ferdinand in Sigmaringen, Germany, on 10 January 1893. The marriage, which produced three daughters and three sons, was not a happy one. The couple’s two youngest children, Ileana and Mircea, were born after Marie met her long-time lover, Barbu Ştirbey. Historians generally agree that Ştirbey was the father of Prince Mircea. The paternity of Ileana is uncertain, as is the paternity of Marie’s second daughter, Maria (or Mignon), the future Queen of Yugoslavia.  Ferdinand’s paternity of the three other children, Carol, Nicholas and Elisabeth, has not been disputed.

Princess Maria & Prince Carol

By 1926 the monarchy was in a tangle.

Prince Carol announced that he no longer wished to be considered a member of the royal family and his father, in the last year of his reign pronounced the destitution of the heir apparent.

Prince Carol

Prince Nicholas, after an undistinguished career at Eton, entered the Royal Navy and was serving in the Mediterranean Fleet, frightening the Maltese to death by tearing round the narrow streets on a Red Indian motor-bike. Stories are still told in naval wardrooms about the Valletta prostitute who set up in business for herself under the sign BY APPOINTMENT TO H.R.H. PRINCE NICHOLAS OF ROMANIA.

Prince Nicholas

His mother was having better luck with her daughters. A dedicated matchmaker, Marie was determined to see the three girls nothing less than queens. Elisabeth had become Queen of Greece—a queen without a throne, it was true, and soon to be without a husband, for the marriage did not work out. Mignon, the second daughter, had taken King Alexander of Yugoslavia for a walk in the forest at Sinaia and come back engaged.


Marie, finding her country in a grim mood, swept off on travels. She took England by storm, danced a quadrille with King George and Queen Mary, and wrote a piece for a daily newspaper called “My Ideal Man”. Her fan-mail was delivered in a truck and it added up to one massive outburst of praise for her good looks, courage, charm, stamina, artistry, authorship, botany and tapestry-work. A journalist on the Toronto Star called her “a first-rate bridge-player, a second-rate poetess, a very high-grade puller of European political strings . . . who uses more make-up than all the rest of the royal families combined

Queen Marie

Her favourite home was more of a seaside villa than a palace. Ferdinand did not sleep here. He died before the Quiet Nest was completed. His widow did, and whom she might have slept with supplies legends for guides to entertain western tourists with. To be fair, they are only retelling gossip which circulated during Marie’s lifetime—gossip which is purged of its original malice for, as the manager of the Balchik rest-home says, ‘What is the use of being a Queen if you can’t take a lover?’

Quiet Nest

The boatman Hassan; the head gardener who cultivated for her a black rose; the Italian architect Fabrice … in the Balchik story they join the list of lovers. The list is headed by the Crown Prince of Prussia and Waldorf Astor of Cliveden, whose wife Pauline complained that Marie was writing to him every day, and must stop it. It continues with Rosciori hussars, Russian grand dukes, a Polish count, a German envoy, Colonel Joe Boyle, Prince Stirbey, two or three minor Romanian politicians, Colonel Eugen Zwiedeneck, a young aide at Balchik . . . A younger member of the royal family says: ‘Great-grandmama was very naughty. Stable-boys and everything.’


In 1930 came the sensational return of the exile: Prince Carol, the dispossessed heir who marched on Bucharest and accomplished a quiet coup against his little son.

History and the popular press have been hard on Carol II of Romania. He is a weak-chinned would-be dictator, a drunkard, intriguer and womaniser; a Byzantine character. Close to former royal circles, they speak with some embarrassment of the defect which destroyed the dynasty :

‘I hardly know how to put it . . . Carol was . . . well, you know about Cleopatra’s nose ? Half an inch longer, and the history of the world might have … it wasn’t Carol’s nose, it was another organ… half an inch shorter, and our history . . . you follow me? Lupescu was the only woman who could … eh? You understand?’


Published in: on November 3, 2010 at 8:21 am  Comments (37)  
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37 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. The phrase is “it’s good to be king” not so much for the queen.

    • oh I think it can be very good to be The Queen too

      • what she said

      • 😉

  2. There used to be (perhaps still is?) a ball in London for the (deposed) crowned heads of Europe…a long time ago, I was introduced to King Zog of Albania and heard some stories about Romania.
    Yep! You’ve said it!

    • King Zog who died in 1961?

      • My mistake! It would have been the son of Zog.

  3. If Carol I led a coup against his son, did the older one become Carol II? Or was it the son who eventually grew up to be the weak-chinned womaniser? Either way, an entertaining royal tangle.

    • Carol II (whose son’s name was Michael) was the nephew of Carol I. You’re right, it’s quite a tangle but it’s Carol II who was the weak-chinned womaniser. Allegedly.

  4. Life is a glorious cyle of song
    A medley of extemporanea
    Love is a thing that can never go wrong
    And I am Marie of Roumania

    Dorothy Parker

    (I typed that from memory, FWIW)

    • There’s never been anyone quite like Dorothy. and I’m impressed with your memory.

  5. i thought my family was fucked up. this sounds like a festive, and well-funded, trailer park.

    • I think it sounds rather like the British royal family too 😉

  6. Carol 2nd had priapism, hehe.

    • Ouch! that had to hurt

  7. I like my prostitutes royally appointed to their positions… or whatever position I pay them to be in.

    • Assuming the position now…..

  8. Queen Marie is my hero.

    • Except for the second rate poetess thing. I think you should aspire higher than that

  9. I hope that Prince Nicholas did the right thing and issue the Valletta prostitute with a royal warrant

    Even in this day and age they are quite coveted things. That said Boots the Chemist does not advertise its warrant on its roid cream…

    • Did you just check the tube in your medicine cabinet?

  10. I visited Sinaia only last year and can vouch for their forests, snowy mountains and also a

    delighful castle.

    • How long were you there for Nick? Is the local cuisine good too?

      • Only had a short weekend in Sinaia but I’ve been to Romania about six times, both work and pleasure. I like the place.

        Ciorba is an always tasty soup with lots of variations and there is also a really tasty salad dish made from aubergines (the first aubergine dish I have ever considered edible). Romanian cuisine is pretty good albeit occasionally a little bland. In some establishments you may find bear on the menu. They also make their own hooch.

  11. Try this instead…


  12. i can vaguely (and likely erroneously) trace my lineage to Swedish royalty. perhaps i should invoke my regal rights amongst the local females?

  13. Marie had plans…big plans. She knew what she wanted, it sounds. Why be unhappy if you can help it?

  14. I want the Quiet Nest.

  15. I want more friends like Carol. These words of praise:

    “a first-rate bridge-player, a second-rate poetess, a very high-grade puller of European political strings . . . who uses more make-up than all the rest of the royal families combined“

    could also be said of me. Minus the “European political,” oh and “strings” part.

  16. The perfect thank you, and share information.

  17. I am their Father

  18. I’m feeling sort of warm and fuzzy about my family after reading that. We might be morons, but no one’s ever tried to depose anyone. OK, there was that one time in the Romanian mountains when Alex tried to take Adam’s crown and push him into a beaver stronghold, but besides that…

  19. That defect will destroy any dynasty!!!

  20. I’ve always loved that Cleopatra’s nose saying.

  21. I read somewhere that Queen Marie’s last words were, ‘Goodbye my dear muddy people’, which I presume referred to her Romanian subjects. Also, in the 1980s some of her English ladies-in-waiting still survived and it was one of the tasks of staff at the British embassy in Bucharest to make sure they had enough to eat et cetera – or so one of them told me. I wish someone had taken along a tape recorder with the food parcels and interviewed them about what they remembered.

  22. “King Michael” of Romania died just a few years ago. He came to Vancouver, hoping to drum up support to re-take the throne. It was not a notable success.

  23. FABULOUS!!!!!!

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