From the Volume Archives

Queen Marie of Rumania

Tuesday April 21, 1936


In this article, published in The Bahá’í World Volume VI (1934-1936), Martha Root describes her remarkable encounters with Queen Marie of Rumania, who had embraced the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh.

By Martha Root

How great the blessedness that awaiteth the king who will arise to aid My Cause in My Kingdom, who will detach himself from all else but Me! Such a king is numbered with the companions of the Crimson Ark—the Ark which God hath prepared for the people of Bahá. All must glorify his name, must reverence his station, and aid him to unlock the cities with the keys of My Name, the omnipotent Protector of all that inhabit the visible and invisible kingdoms. Such a king is the very eye of mankind, the luminous ornament on the brow of creation, the fountain-head of blessings unto the whole world. Offer up, O people of Bahá, your substance, nay your very lives, for his assistance.1Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá”u’lláh, www.bahai.org/r/204457703

The first Queen of the world to study and to promote Bahá’u’lláh’s great Teachings has been Her Majesty Queen Marie of Rumania, one of the queens of this twentieth century who stands highest in intellect, in vision, in clear understanding of the new universal epoch now opening. Her Majesty received the book “Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era” by Dr. J. E. Esslemont and a note from the writer of this article who first visited Bucharest, Rumania, in January, 1926. The Rumanian Queen, grand-daughter of the renowned Queen Victoria of the British Empire and of Czar Alexander II of Russia, both of whom received Tablets from Bahá’u’lláh in their day, read this volume until three o’clock in the morning and two days later, on January 30, 1926, received me in audience in Controceni Palace, in Bucharest. Her first words after the greeting were, “I believe these Teachings are the solution for the world’s problems today!” The account of that historic morning appeared in “The Bahá’í Magazine” in Washington, in June, 1926, but very illuminating letters written by Her Majesty that same year show how deep was her confirmation. Here is one written to her loved friend Loie Fuller, an American then residing in Paris, which after these ten years can be published for the first time:

Lately great hope has come to me from one, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, a personal follower of Christ. Reading, I have found in His and His Father Bahá’u’lláh’s Message of Faith all my yearnings for real religion satisfied. If you ever hear of Bahá’ís or of the Bahá’í Movement which is known in America you will know what that is! What I mean, these books have strengthened me beyond belief and I am now ready to die any day full of hope; but I pray God not to take me away yet, for I still have a lot of work to do.

Other letters record that first of all she was teaching her young daughter Ileana about these beautiful truths. For ten years Her Majesty and her daughter, H.R.H. Princess Ileana (now Archduchess Anton), have read with interest each new book about the Bahá’í Movement as soon as it came from the press.

As we know she wrote three marvelous articles about these Bahá’í peace Teachings in 1926, and as they were syndicated each article appeared in nearly two hundred newspapers in the United States and Canada. Many millions of people were thrilled to read that a Queen had arisen to promote Bahá’u’lláh’s plan for universal peace. Quickly these articles were translated and published in Europe, China, Japan, Australasia and in the Islands of the seas.

Received in audience by Her Majesty in Pelisor Palace, Sinaia, in 1927, after the passing of His Majesty King Ferdinand, her husband, she graciously gave me an interview, speaking of the Bahá’í Teachings about immortality. She had on her table and on the divan a number of Bahá’í books, for she had just been reading in each of them the Teachings about Life after death. She asked the writer to give her greeting to Shoghi Effendi, to the friends in Írán and to the many American Bahá’ís who she said had been so remarkably kind to her during her trip through the United States the year before. Also, she graciously gave the writer an appreciation of these Bahá’í Teachings in her own hand-writing, for Volume IV. of the “Bahá’í World.”

Meeting the Queen again on January 19, 1928, in the Royal Palace in Belgrade, where she and H.R.H. Princess Ileana were guests of the Queen of Jugoslavia—and they had brought some of their Bahá’í books with them—the words I shall remember longest of all that Her dear Majesty said were these: “The ultimate dream which we shall realize is that the Bahá’í channel of thought has such strength, it will serve little by little to become a light to all those searching for the real expression of Truth.”

Another happy audience was in Her Majesty’s lovely summer palace “Tehna-Yuva,” at Balciĉ, on the Black Sea, in October, 1929. Again in the home of Archduchess Anton at Mödling near Vienna she and her mother received me on August 8, 1932, and in February, 1933, and Her Majesty made this great statement which was used as the frontispiece to “Bahá’í World,” Volume IV.:

 


The Bahá’í Teaching brings peace and understanding. It is like a wide embrace gathering together all those who have long searched for words of hope. It accepts all great prophets gone before, it destroys no other creeds and leaves all doors open. Saddened by the continual strife amongst believers of many confessions and wearied of their intolerance towards each other, I discovered in the Bahá’í Teaching the real spirit of Christ so often denied and misunderstood. Unity instead of strife, Hope instead of condemnation, Love instead of hate, and a great reassurance for all men.

Then in the audience in Controceni Palace on February 16, 1934, when Her Majesty was told that the Rumanian translation of “Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era” had just been published in Bucharest, she said she was so happy that her people were to have the blessing of reading this precious Teaching.

How beautiful she looked that afternoon—as always—for her loving eyes mirror her mighty spirit; a most unusual Queen is she, a consummate artist, a lover of beauty and wherever she is there is glory. Perhaps too, a Queen is a symbol, people like to have their Queen beautiful and certainly Queen Marie of Rumania is one of the most lovely in this world today. Her clothes, designed by herself, are always a “tout ensemble” creation so harmonious in colors they seem to dress her soul. She received me in her private library where a cheerful fire glowed in the quaint, built-in fireplace; tea was served on a low table, the gold service set being wrought in flowers. There were flowers everywhere, and when she invited me into her bedroom where she went to get the photograph which I like so much, as I saw the noble, majestic proportions of this great chamber with its arched ceiling in Gothic design, I exclaimed in joy, “Your room is truly a temple, a Mashriqu’l-Adhkár!” There were low mounds of hyacinths, flowers which Bahá’u’lláh loved and mentioned often in His Writings; there was a bowl of yellow tulips upon a silken tapestry in yellow gold, a tall deep urn of fragrant white lilacs, and an immense bowl of red roses. Controceni Palace is the most beautiful palace I have seen in any country in the blending of its colors and III its artistic arrangements.

Her Majesty is a writer as well as an artist, and Her Memoirs entitled “The Story of My Life” were just then being published in “The Saturday Evening Post.” She told me she writes two hours every morning unless her time is invaded by queenly duties, charity duties, family duties. She was pleased with the sincere letters that were pouring in from all continents giving appreciations of her story. She told me the American people are so open-hearted and that from the United States children, professors, farmers’ wives and the smart people had written to her, the tone in all their letters revealing Her Majesty’s entire sincerity and the deep humanity of her character. One teacher wrote Her Majesty that in her childhood each one lived through his own childhood: another said, “All who read your story have their own lives stirred!” The Queen remarked, “And this is a very satisfactory criticism for an author.”

A most pleasing letter had just arrived from Japan from a girl there who thanked God Who had allowed her to live in a period in which such a wonderful book had been written! “This,” said the Queen, “is one of the nicest appreciations I have ever heard.”

Then the conversation turned again to the Bahá’í Teachings and she gave a greeting to be sent to Shoghi Effendi in Haifa. Later she mentioned an incident in Hamburg when she was en route to Iceland in the summer of 1933. As she passed through the street, a charming girl tossed a little note to her into the motor car. It was: “I am so happy to see you in Hamburg, because you are a Bahá’í.” Her Majesty remarked that they recognized a Bahá’í and this shows a spirit of unity in the Bahá’í Movement.

Her Majesty said to me, “In my heart I am entirely Bahá’í,” and she sent me this wonderful appreciation: “The Bahá’í Teaching brings peace to the soul and hope to the heart. To those in search of assurance the Words of the Father are as a fountain in the desert after long wandering.”

And now today, February 4, 1936, I have just had another audience with Her Majesty in Controceni Palace, in Bucharest. As I was starting to walk up the wide ivory toned stairs carpeted with blue Iranian rugs to the third floor suites, at that very moment over a radio came the rich strains of the Wedding March from “Lohengrin,” played by an orchestra. It seemed a symbol: the union of spiritual forces of the East and Europe! Again Queen Marie of Rumania received me cordially in her softly lighted library, for the hour was six o’clock. She was gowned in black velvet and wore her great strands of marvelous pearls. The fire in the grate beamed a welcome with its yellow-glowing fragrant pine boughs and large bowls of yellow tulips adorned the apartment.

What a memorable visit it was! She told me she has a friend in ‘Akka, Palestine, who knows Shoghi Effendi and this friend recently has sent her pictures of ‘Akka and Haifa; the two were playfellows when they were children and met in Malta. She also told me that when she was in London she had met a Bahá’í, Lady Blomfield, who had shown her the original Message that Bahá ‘u’llah had sent to her Grandmother Queen Victoria in London. She asked the writer about the progress of the Bahá’í Movement especially in the Balkan countries.

“Since we met two years ago,” said Her Majesty, “so many sad events have happened! I look on with a great deal of sorrow at the way the different peoples seem to misunderstand one another; especially now that I have become very lonely in my home, I have all the more time to think over these problems, and I’m sometimes very sad that I can do so little. However, I know that the right spirit and the right thoughts go a long way towards that unity of hearts which I haven’t given up the hope to see before I pass on.”

She spoke, too, of several Bahá’í books, the depths of “Íqán” and especially of “Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh” which she said was a wonderful book! To quote her own words: “Even doubters would find a powerful strength in it, if they would read it alone and would give their souls time to expand.”

Her Majesty kindly promised to write for “Bahá’í World,” Volume VI, a special appreciation and to send it after four days.

I asked her if I could perhaps speak of the broach which historically is precious to Bahá’ís, and she replied, “Yes, you may.” Once, and it was in 1928, Her dear Majesty had given the writer a gift, a lovely and rare brooch which had been a gift to the Queen from Her Royal Relatives in Russia some years ago. It was two little wings of wrought gold and silver, set with tiny diamond chips and joined together with one large pearl. “Always you are giving gifts to others, and I am going to give you a gift from me,” said the Queen smiling, and she herself clasped it onto my dress. The wings and the pearl made it seem “Lightbearing,” Bahá’í! It was sent the same week to Chicago as a gift to the Bahá’í Temple, the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, and at the National Bahá’í Convention which was in session that spring, a demur was made-should a gift from the Queen be sold? Should it not be kept as a souvenir of the first Queen who arose to promote the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh? -However, it was sold immediately and the money given to the Temple, for all Bahá’ís were giving to the utmost to forward this mighty structure, the first of its kind in the United States. Mr. Willard Hatch, a Bahá’í of Los Angeles, California, who bought the exquisite brooch, took it to Haifa, Palestine, in 1931 and placed it in the archives on Mt. Carmel where down the ages it will rest with the Bahá’í treasures.

Inadequate as is anyone article to portray Her Majesty Queen Marie of Rumania’! splendid spiritual attitude, still these few glimpses do show that she stands strong for the highest Truth, and as an historical record they will present a little of what the first Queen did for the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh.