I referenced an anecdote from Sarah Bradford’s biography of George VI yesterday and I’m sharing another today. Needless to say I recommend the book, which kept me occupied for the entirety of an eight-hour flight back in December. The most ringing of all my endorsements.
Anyway, this anecdote concerns Marie “Missy” of Edinburgh, eldest daughter of Prince Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and his wife, Marie of Russia. Missy, born on October 29, 1875, was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria and would go on to marry Ferdinand I, King of Romania, serving as Romania’s queen from 1914-1927. After her husband’s death she saw the reigns of both her son, Carol I, and her grandson, Michael I, though not in that order (we’ll cover this in a later post), made frequent trips back to England and died just two years shy of the deposition of the Romanian royal family in 1940.
Now, while Marie lived a colorful and eventful life, how she came into contact with the future George VI (then known as Prince Albert) is downright hilarious. Missy was a first cousin of Albert’s father, George V, and a favorite of his – before their respective marriages, George had even been a bit in love with her and she came very close to being the next queen of England.
However, in April 1922, Prince Albert, second in line to the throne, was deputized to travel to Romania when Marie’s daughter married King Alexander of Serbia. For the first time, he was able to see his cousins on their home turf and take in the Balkans first hand. From a historical perspective, the future George VI’s ability to visit a country that would be so critical during World War II was invaluable experience, and one that his elder brother lacked given that the priority tours given to the Prince of Wales were in England or the larger Empire.
But, as Bradford describes:
Queen Marie in her youth had been a beauty, blonde, voluptuous and irresistible to men. Now bosomy, double-chinned and distinctly middle-aged, she was still possessed of an extravagant temperament and a marked tendency to fantasy, given to leaving notes in her own hand about her palaces, declaring ‘Marie of Romania – one of the most wonderful women in the world. A woman like that is born once a century.’
I have nothing else to add here, just RESPECT.