Elisabeth of Wied : biography
Pauline Elisabeth Ottilie Luise zu Wied (29 December 1843 – 3 March/2 November 1916) was the Queen consort of Romania as the wife of King Carol I of Romania, widely known by her literary name of Carmen Sylva. Elisabeth was the aunt of William of Albania (sister to William, 5th Prince of Wied, father of William of Albania).
As a young girl, sixteen-year-old Elisabeth was considered as a possible bride for Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (the future Edward VII of the United Kingdom, known as Bertie). His mother Queen Victoria strongly favored her as a prospective daughter-in-law, and urged her daughter Princess Vicky to look further into her.Pakula, p. 144. Elisabeth was spending the social season at the Berlin court, where her family hoped she would be tamed into a docile, marriageable princess. Vicky responded, "I do not think her at all distinguée looking - certainly the opposite to Bertie's usual taste", whereas the tall and slender Alexandra of Denmark was "just the style Bertie admires". Bertie was also shown photographs of Elisabeth, but professed himself unmoved and declined to give them a second glance.Hibbert, pp. 40-41. In the end, Alexandra was chosen for Bertie.
She first met Prince Karl of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen in Berlin in 1861. In 1869, Karl, who was now Prince Carol of Romania, traveled to Germany in search of a suitable consort. He was reunited with Elisabeth, and the two were married on 15 November 1869 in Neuwied. Their only child, a daughter, Maria, died in 1874 at age three—an event from which Elisabeth never recovered. She was crowned Queen of Romania in 1881 after Romania was proclaimed a kingdom.
By all accounts, Carol and Elisabeth had a somewhat frosty relationship for most of their 45 years of marriage. Elisabeth was somewhat put off by Carol's unbending devotion to his royal duties; she once said that her husband wore his crown in his sleep. Maria's death caused them to draw further apart. However, late in Carol's life, he and Elisabeth grew closer.
In the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878 she devoted herself to the care of the wounded, and founded the Order of Elizabeth (a gold cross on a blue ribbon) to reward distinguished service in such work. She fostered the higher education of women in Romania, and established societies for various charitable objects.
Early distinguished by her excellence as a pianist, organist and singer, she also showed considerable ability in painting and illuminating; but a lively poetic imagination led her to the path of literature, and more especially to poetry, folk-lore and ballads. In addition to numerous original works she put into literary form many of the legends current among the Romanian peasantry.
She was the 835th Dame of the Royal Order of Queen Maria Luisa. She died at Curtea de Argeş or Bucharest.
Family and early life
Born at "Schloss Monrepos" in Neuwied, she was the daughter of Hermann, Prince of Wied, and his wife Princess Marie of Nassau, daughter of William, Duke of Nassau (and sister of Adolphe, Grand Duke of Luxembourg). Elisabeth had artistic leanings; her childhood featured seances and visits to the local lunatic asylum.
Titles, styles, honours and arms
Titles and styles
- 29 December 1843 – 15 November 1869: Her Serene Highness Princess Elisabeth of Wied
- 15 November 1869 – 26 March 1881: Her Royal Highness The Princess of Romania
- 26 March 1881 – 27 September 1914: Her Majesty The Queen
- 27 September 1914 – 2 March 1916: Her Majesty The Queen Dowager
- Dame of the Order of Louise
The Văcărescu affair
In 1881, due to the lack of heirs to the Romanian throne, King Carol I adopted his nephew, Ferdinand. Ferdinand, a complete stranger in his new home, started to get close to one of Elisabeth's ladies in waiting Elena Văcărescu. Elisabeth, very close to Elena herself, encouraged the romance, although she was perfectly aware of the fact that a marriage between the two was forbidden by the Romanian constitution. (According to the 1866 Constitution of Romania, the heir to the throne was not allowed to marry a Romanian).
In countries which are located near sea coasts, sea food is an important part of national cuisine