Halcyon Days at the Roumanian Court: The Three Maids-of-Honour: 1890s

"Carmen Sylva" Queen Consort Elisabeth of Roumania

“Carmen Sylva” Queen Consort Elisabeth of Roumania

The Odessky Listok is responsible for the following story of the halcyon days of the Roumanian court :

“Queen Elizabeth of Roumania was informed that three of her maids of honor were in a delicate condition, which might have been a source of great happiness to them had they been in the bonds of wedlock. As it was, however, ‘Carmen Sylva,’ being of a rather romantic turn of mind, promised them that the ones responsible for their condition should be made to espouse them. Accordingly, on the evening of a great court ball, ‘Carmen Sylva’ called up one of her woe-stricken ones, and, pointing to a group of brilliant young officers, asked her if her particular one was there. She bashfully indicated a handsome and dashing youth. The queen, thereupon, called up the second erring damsel, and requested that she, too, should pick out the one who had injured her. What was the consternation of  ‘Carmen Sylva,’ however, when she pointed her finger at the same youth! The third stray one was now called, and the queen, in some trepidation, asked her likewise to point out the destroyer of her happiness. The maid looked around carefully and then indicated that terrible youth, also. The queen very nearly fainted away. The three maids were sent to their respective homes, while the handsome officer went off to one of the Danube posts, where there was said to be fine fishing.”

The Argonaut [San Francisco, CA] 16 January 1893

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: How very different from the home-life of our own dear Queen. The Balkan courts were noted for their beautiful court costumes, Byzantine etiquette, and intrigues. “Carmen Sylva” was Queen Consort Elisabetta, wife of King Carol I of Romania.

Queen Victoria was enchanted by her and suggested her as a bride for Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, but he found her photograph less than preposessing and selected Alexandria instead.  She married Prince Carol of Romania in 1869. They had a daughter, who died very young; the Queen never recovered from the shock. When the King adopted his nephew Ferdinand as his heir and Elisabeth encouraged a forbidden romance between the young man and one of her ladies-in-waiting, she was sent into exile.

Although she was a great philanthropist, the Queen was of a sensitive and poetic temperament—like Elisabeth of Austria, she enjoyed visiting lunatic asylums—and was known by her nom de plume, “Carmen Sylva,” “forest song.” She was a prolific author of poetry, novels, plays, and folk-tales, who surrounded herself at court with her literary proteges. One wonders if any of the unhappy young women in the anecdote above fell into that category and if they later wrote a roman à clef about this Ruritanian contretemps. One is certain that the actual events were not nearly so light-hearted as pictured, although the kind-hearted Queen would have made certain that the young women were well cared for.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

 

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