QUEEN MARIE'S PERFUME

English translation of the article Parfumul Reginei Maria in Nr. 404 13-20 March, 2000 Formula AS Magazine


Formula AS - Societate
ANTOLOGIE "FORMULA AS"

Queen Marie's Perfume

For years the Hohenzollerns' castle at Sinaia has been invaded by a bizarre violet aroma. Communist authorities took "sturdy" actions against it, but could not contain it.

    Romanian castles are well-known for their "quietude". They are not haunted, they are not paths for phantoms, like most of the Scottish castles, English, Norman, or Russian, for that matter. Hohenzollern kings, their families, almost all lead quiet lives, more than that, they were never "bloody". Those kinds of excesses would have loaded with negative energy the place, and would have produced strange apparitions, no doubts. Nevertheless, Peles castle, the summer residence of Carol I, the Wise, is a "clean" castle: no strong, sensational or out-of-place stories during the old king's life, and no spirits of phantoms were ever noticed. However, not too long ago, a Formula As team charged with finding paranormal facts, heard about some mysterious apparitions in the little palace named "Pelisor", situated in the same, let's say it, "valley of kings" at Sinaia. These apparitionsextremely rareare, as a matter of fact, almost angelic-like, benign, one could say...

"The Saint Queen" sends us signs from the past

    The information we received in Bucarest was pretty clear: "At Pelisor, from time to time, in certain rooms, one could smell, without any explanation, the Queen Marie's perfume". Here we are, on our way to finding a ghost-perfume!
    Queen Marie, as she has been described, seemed quite capable of offering this kind of after-death surprises: temperamental, dynamic, eccentric, preoccupied to stage her own funeralshe instructed that violet be worn at her funeral; also, she wanted that her heart be separated from the body and buried at Balcic (residence now in Bulgaria, translator's note). Plus, the last years of her life were darkened by her conflicts with Carol II, her ill-tempered son. These conflicts went on until she even got shot in the middle of a violent argument between the king and prince Nicolae.
The queen has always been extremely and heartily attached to Pelisor, where a couple of rooms she decorated, having herself a refined taste and artistic education. One could imagine that the queen's spirit would be afflicted by the Bolsheviks boots stepping in her beloved castle.
    First surprize when we arrived at Sinaia: here nobody knew anything about these so-called exotic apparitions of the queen. Mr. Popa, the Peles complex director, declared firmly, maybe a little too firmly: "At Pelisor there are no such fantastic apparitions."
    The reality of the matter is that all the museum personnel are extremely competent, but the majority are really young. And among the veterans still in function, nobody is able to know, from personal experience, absolutely everything that happened before 1960-1965 in all three castlesPeles, Pelisor, Foisor. So, we continued our investigations on our own.
    An old maid at Pelisor gave us a hint: there is still living in Sinaia a very old guard, Gyuri, who was in service at the castle even before 1938, when the queen-mother Maria died. After 1948 the communists kept him there, because the old man was honest, skilled, and he knew how to go about everything in the palace, and...he wasn't a drinker.
    We found the old Gyuri in a nice house built with stone: he's over 90 years old, still tall and upright, alert, blue eyes and no glasseshe says not by reason of coquetry, he doesn't need them! He is sociable and we befriended easily, he even served me a homemade brandy from juniper leaves. Then I popped the burning question.
-What do you know, Gyuri, it is true what they say, that at Pelisor we can feel the presence of the queen Maria's spirit with a smell of her perfume?
He looked at me with a long eye, the he started, with a light archaic and original accent:
-Well, young man, there is, and there isn't.
-How come?
-Well, all of these happened exactly the way you heard them happen, and, maybe even today they happen, isn't that true? The communists wouldn't allow us to speak about this kind of things. And now all is forgotten. And that is because all began after 1948, when they came. Up until 1963, when I retired, I often smelled, and others too, the out-of-this-world perfume of our saint queen. Ok? So, you see, her soul would have stayed still ten years, or so, after her death, but in 1948, when her nephew King Michael was forced to abdicate, maybe her soul had rebelled. And with her perfume she wanted to remind us, from time to time, of a wonderful world that existed and could not be buried with red shovels (a.k.a. Bolsheviks, translator's note).

First apparition

    The first story of the queen's perfume happened right after King Michael was forced to leave. I will never forget: it was King's birthday, May 10th, 1948, and it so happened that I was on duty that afternoon.
    The communists kept me, for I knew everything, I knew how to go about in the palace, and they needed trusty guards, serious about their job, as they began an inventory of the things. I continued to serve in the palace, even though I has been the head of the valets, and my father was, in the past, sergeant of the corps of "Vanatori de munte" (the section of the military defending and fighting in the mountains, t.n.) and decorated with "Military Virtue" in World War I. You're asking about our people? We all are from Cluj area and everyone has a genuine honesty, coming from other times, of the Empire (Austrian-Hungarian, t.n.) and our dear emperor.
- What really happened that day of May 10th, 1948?
- Do you know Pelisor?
    The question seemed legitimate, and I think it is the place to describe in short the little palace for our readers, so they could understand better the following facts. Built intentionally with numerous rooms, small and private (about 70 rooms in all), the little Pelisor gives rather an impression of a luxurious hotel, than of a castle. This was the express desire of king Carol the 1st, who wanted to erect a Sinaia a swiss-styled "chalet", a "cottage', and not so much of a true castle: "In the same city you cannot have, and it should not be two royal castles", Carol the 1st used to say. (Sinaia has also the big castle of Peles, summer residence of the royals of Romania, t.n.)
    Everything we are about to relate in this article is linked to the most important aisle of Pelisor, the right one, where the key-apartments, storied on three levels are: king's apartment on the first level, queen's apartment on the second, and the overwhelming, stunning Gold Saloon on the third. This Gold Saloon, as we are going to see later on, is at the origin of all paranormal activity that we are about to describe.
- As I was saying, I was at the third level, making my rounds, - old Gyuri continued. It was a warm day, so I told myself that it would be pleasant to open the windows a little bit in the Gold Saloon and let the air refresh the room... I opened the door, and, right away I realized that something was not right: the entire saloon was filled with a strong perfume of violets, coming from the walls, the floor, from everywhere. I instantly recognized it: it was the same perfume queen-mother Maria received as a present, in a golden, beaded with real brilliants and safires bottle, from the same maharajah who gave king Carol the 2nd a wooded furniture for his saloon, in tekazi wood, now exposed at Peles. The queen loved a lot this perfume, and she used it only on occasions, but I knew it, because I told you, it was unique, it was different from other perfumesit was of violets of India, that was their name.
    I looked aroundno sign of any flower, any violet for that matter, as at Sinaia they appear much later, being colder than in other places.
    Then old Gyuri continued, saying that the perfume's eruption became strongerit was like its source was the very center of the golden vaulted ceiling. The flow was irresistible, and, at the same time it had a bizarre behavior one could not explain: from the Golden Saloon, all of the sudden, it spurt underneath, in queen's apartment on the second floor, then the perfume traveled directly to king's apartment on first floor. Very strange, to say the least, none of the neighboring rooms of king Ferdinand's apartment seemed to have been "touched" by the perfume, nor the halls. The smell propagated only vertically. Now the trouble
began: there was someone important (politically, t.n.) on the first floor, sent from Bucarest to transfer possession of the castle. When he smelled the strong perfume, and, most of all, when he realized the strangeness of its apparitiona perfume stuck in three rooms, one on top of each other, and which wouldn't pass on the room next door, with the door open, he almost lost his mind. He got so scared, that he started to yell, calling his armed militia; but how can someone shot a perfume, even with Kalashnikov guns? We searched the whole palace, but...nothing.

 - Then they called on me and two other guards, and they instructed us not to tell anyone about what happened, or we would see the prison of Gherla (a dreaded and famous prison, t.n.). They even didn't report anything in Bucarest, for they would have been fired, on grounds of mysticism!

The second apparition

    Old Gyuri didn't witness the second apparition, but, even if they tried to cover it in zero degree of silence, it transpired eventually, and word got out about these mysterious happenings.
- A big shot from Bucarest have come at Sinaia one day - continued the old guard. It was Chivu Stoica, I guess, or even Dej (the president in office at the time, t.n.), I could never tell, that was always a big state secret. It was the year of 1950 or so, and they wanted to know about the fate of the treasures and inventories of the palaces taken from the "rotten monarchy". They used to care a lot about others estates!

As I was saying, explained to me the old guard, it was a special day; the feast day of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel, year of 1950, the patronymic day of king Michael. It seemed as if the exotic apparitions at Pelisor have a certain rule: they would make their presence felt at precise dates, usually important dates for the Romanian royals. The perfume erupted, as it was its "usual", with equal power as before, and unexpectedly. The boss from Bucarest was in the work room of king Ferdinand's apartment, first level (in the splendid office with  the secession style desk, fir-wooded polished walls of soothing green color).
    The first person noticing the perfume was, with her specific feminine sensibility, the lady who was accompanying the mysterious communist leader.
- What is with this violet perfume, dear, because it's not mine!?
the red aristocrat would reproach firmly.
- Well? It's not mine either, the comrade tried to exculpate himself.
    Then they realized that the perfume appeared unnaturally. When they checked the Big Saloon and the king's bedroom and it was no special smell in neither one of them, with the doors open, the two comrades froze! In vain would they alert militia and all the guards. One could not fight the air.

A sequence of apparitions and a cat-witness

    Whoever the leader involved in the related events - either Chivu Stoica, or Gheorghiu-Dej - he ordered that guard be tripled in militia and security, and they made their rounds on the Pelisor halls, and rummaged systematically all the rooms for a year. That was perfume's "golden age"! It was as the perfume wanted to play with its followers, like Poltergeist. And as elves-poltergeist would "work" with chaotic and mysterious sounds and stones, queen's perfume seemed to play the whole year of 1954 hide-and-seek with the guards: it was appearing, one could scent its presence in the second floor room, at the same time in the third floor, then suddenly it was disappearing, unnaturally, or appearing all of the sudden in a room above, in the attic, in an opposite corner, etc. Militia and guards were loosing their minds. A sergeant even turned gray in one night.
     It was about the same night when a big, beautiful half-breed Siberian cat, owned by a guard, sensed too, without a doubt, the strange apparition: poor animal all ruffled, bloodshot eyes! You know, usually, animals don't lie and are not wrong! After that the cat changed its behavior drastically: from nice and friendly , it became a labile and wild cat, whom no one could touch anymore... It seemed that after that memorable year, the perfume's apparitions almost ceased. Remarkable was
as we were sayingthe silence and oblivion induced about these events by the authorities.

A perfume that could foretell

    Then I asked my interlocutor if he knew of any special significance, or sign of prediction that those ghostlike apparitions of queen Marie's perfume could have had.
    After a long reflection he remembered. The last two apparitions, almost unnoticeable though, took place, one, very short before Petru Groza's death
the Romanian monarchy's "killer", and the second one, even more discreet, in a room on the attic, one week before Gheorghiu-Dej's death (the country's leader at the time). In that time period, Pelisor was already "The Writers' House of Creation", but, except for a former old Gyuri's co-worker, who felt the apparitions before that too, nobody sensed anything.