QUEEN MARIE OF ROUMANIA

by Elizabeth Dodge Huntington Clark
Chapter XIII The Joy of Service
Memoirs of Elizabeth Dodge Huntington Clark

National Board of the Young Women's Christian Association
New York, 1979


During our years in Turkey, George and I enjoyed an interesting friendship with Queen Marie of Roumania and her daughter, Princess Ileana. Our acquaintance with them came about through Frank Buchman1, founder of Moral Rearmament, a religious movement which he started while visiting Oxford University. His ideas influenced people in many countries.

Mr. Buchman wrote to us in the fall of 1924 asking if we could arrange a "house party" for him at Robert College. He liked to gather people together for several days of intense spiritual thought, hoping that they would continue the same kind of meetings with friends after he had gone. Just at the time he was to come, I had to be away in Cairo for a meeting of the Christian Council on Education in Moslem Lands, of which I was a member, but George prepared for his arrival and he and two associates stayed for several days at our house. I never knew Mr. Buchman well, but later I became acquainted with one of his associates, the American minister, Samuel Shoemaker,2 who had a fine spiritual influence among our students at this time.

I returned from Egypt the day before they were to leave for India. Because he had encountered some trouble with his visa, I took Mr. Buchman around in our car to see various people who could help him. George thought it would be a good chance for me to get to know him and hear about his recent stay in Roumania with Queen Marie. It seemed she had been eager to learn about Robert College from him. He had told her that George and I could give her all the information she wanted. Consequently Mr. Buchman asked me whether we would be willing to visit her if she should ask us.

I said, “Of course! It would be a Queen's command, and a wonderful experience for us; so we would certainly accept." In January, 1925, just two months later, we received a long telegram from the Queen inviting us and the Damons to visit her at once.

There were two Roumanian students in the college at this time. Their government was going through a very nationalistic period and did not recognize our degree. We decided the visit would be a good opportunity to meet the Minister of Education as well as a chance for us to see a royal court. In the late hours after the day's other work, I looked up Roumania in the encyclopedia and also read the autobiography of the strong king, Carol, who had built up the country after its reconstitution from the old Turkish Empire in the mid-nineteenth century.

George and I were involved in so many activities that we always seemed to prepare for trips at the last minute. Since the Queen's telegram came only a few days before we were expected to arrive, we were even more rushed than usual. The day before we left I dictated letters, had my Turkish lesson as usual, went to the city to meet tourists arriving on the Adriatic, showed them through the college and brought them home for tea, attended a meeting of the College Housewives' League, read to the Damon children, called on Dr. Gates' son and his wife, who had just arrived back from America; then packed, wrote, and sorted until late. We took our most formal attire, even top hats for George and Theron, not knowing what to expect.

On the morning of January 28, the four of us boarded the Roumanian ship Principesa Maria, and steamed up the Bosphorus in clear sunshine. Some of the college boys waved to us from the terrace and our ship saluted them as we sailed by. This was my first trip into the Black Sea. It was warm enough to sit on deck to read, and the sea was like a millpond. By four o'clock we were out of sight of land, and after sunset we walked and talked under a crescent moon.

At five the next morning we arrived in the little harbor of Constantsa, where we took the train to Bucharest, the capital of Roumania. There we were met by a young man in a blue uniform with a gold crown embroidered on his jacket. He asked, "Are you for the palace?" and we were swept off in two palace cars, with crowns on their license plates, accompanied by a gracious lady dressed in black. She introduced herself, in perfect English, as Mme. Procopiu, a lady-in-waiting to the Queen.

The Palatul Cotrocini was situated just outside the city on a little hill, in the middle of a wild, snowy, wooded park. A monastery had been built there two hundred years before by a prince who was grateful for the refuge from his enemies provided by a nearby cave. "Cotrocini" means "having been hidden." The present palace had been built by King Carol I around the monastery church, which remained in the center of the courtyard. The palace was white, with broad, low Byzantine arches, and there were many large trees in the court.

Mme. Procopiu conducted us to our apartments on the second floor. As we reached our rooms, a tall, blue-eyed lady, with beautiful golden hair and fine features, stepped out to greet us—the Queen! Our clothes were dusty from traveling, but she put us at our ease at once by inquiring about our journey, and explaining, "I was just arranging flowers in your rooms, and opening the windows, for I know Americans like fresh air!" Then she stepped into our sitting room, saying gaily, "I love to welcome my guests personally as soon as they arrive. I hope you will find everything comfortable here. You have the apartments which the King and Queen of Serbia occupy when they visit us, so you will be writing at the King and Queen's desk." Her second daughter, Minola (Marie), had married King Alexander of Serbia, later called Yugoslavia. Cornelia and Theron had an equally spacious apartment a floor below us.

As she stepped out, she added, "We will have tea in the studio at five o'clock, and Mme. Procopiu will come to bring you to me then."


The Queen at Balcic

Queen Marie of Roumania

The Queen's thoughtful, intimate greeting set the pattern for our visit. She seemed always at ease, full of enthusiasm and quite informal. The fact that she was English made communication easy. She was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria and had been brought up in England and on the island of Malta. Her father, Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, had been admiral of the Mediterranean fleet. She told me how she and her three sisters loved to ride their horses wildly over the island terrain. Marie called Queen Victoria "Grandmama Queen" and her Russian grandmother, who had been the wife of Czar Alexander II, liberator of the Serfs, "Grandmama Empress."

As a girl of seventeen, in 1895, she had married Prince Ferdinand, nephew and chosen heir of King Carol I of Roumania. She had come to this unfamiliar Eastern country, as she told us later, to live with a husband she hardly knew, as an inexperienced child. King Carol wished the young couple to remain much alone, away from the jealousies of the powerful Roumanian families. Marie was a lively, free-spirited girl and her life was terribly lonely and dull. Within a year a son, Carol, was born, to the great joy of the whole country; but Marie was hardly permitted any contact with her child. His care and training were relegated to nurses specially chosen by King Carol. Presently she discovered an escape from her boring life in riding. She loved to gallop over the countryside and in this way she came to know and love the peasants, the real Roumanian people, into whose homes she would go and talk. Throughout her life she found release from the tensions of court life in her riding.

King Carol gradually realized that Marie was the stronger of the royal pair and she told us he then began to consult her on state matters. He lived until 1914 so she and Ferdinand had a long period of waiting before they ascended the throne. Perhaps Ferdinand was a rather weak ruler, but they seemed to work well as a team, and the Queen called him "unselfish King Ferdinand." He was recovering from a hernia operation at the time of our visit, so we did not meet him during the first week.

At five that first afternoon we went for tea to the studio, a large, dark-beamed room, with a huge fireplace. At one side of the hearth were heavy chairs upholstered in soft old blues, pinks and grays, and on the other side was a divan covered by two magnificent tiger skins whose heads served as footstools. At the far end of the high-ceilinged room a stairway rose to a book-lined gallery.

When we entered, the Queen was seated at the left of the fireplace before a very large, low table. In its center a huge brass bowl was fitted, filled with growing primroses. The Queen herself poured tea. The other guests were the Queen's oldest daughter, Elizabeth, and her husband, George3, the dethroned King of Greece, and two ladies-in-waiting. Queen Elizabeth was handsome and quiet, King George friendly and earnest. We became fond of him and felt sorry he and Queen Elizabeth had been forced to leave their country which he sincerely wanted to help.

I quote here some paragraphs about our visit to Bucharest from the diary of my husband, George Huntington:

This first tea disarmed all our anxieties, and any dread we might have had as to how our visit at the court would be received by the Queen and by all others. Our little gathering around the fireplace was as spontaneous and natural as though we were in our own home. . . [The Queen's] taste runs toward pottery. [Theron and she had this interest in common] Practically every room in the house has one or more beautiful Persian jars. . . . Her eye for color is wonderful.

. . . in large companies of people she would move about the room, greeting each one in turn, always gracious and yet with queenly dignity and talking with each about some matter . . . which made each person feel her personal interest in him.

We dined that evening, as, in fact every evening, in the studio, a special table being prepared. . . . Very rarely was there anyone outside of the royal group and we four at dinner in the evening. These were the delightful family parties which came to mean so much to us. The State luncheons were interesting and showy, but we could never have the jolly intimate group conversations that came with the cozy dinners in the studio. . . . They were just such happy family dinners as all the Dodge family might have when gathered at Riverdale, or all of us Huntingtons gathered in the old dining room at Milton.

After dinner that first night we went with Queen Elizabeth and King George to a musicale at the home of Mme. Procopiu, the lady-in-waiting, who had met us at the train. We met many Roumanians there, and Mrs. Peter Jay, wife of our American minister, whom I had last seen at her wedding sixteen years before. George found Tommy Bolton, a Robert College alumnus. His father, an English physician, had settled in Roumania many years before. Mrs. Jay gave us all sorts of whispered instructions as to what was proper during the stiff and formal entertainment.

Next morning George and I were reading aloud in our room when we heard a jolly rumpus in the corridor and went out to find that Prince Michael,4 three-year-old son of Prince Carol and his wife, Princess Helen, sister of King George of Greece, had come to see us in his toy auto. He was being pushed along by Princess Ileana, Queen Marie's sixteen-year-old daughter, a natural, pretty, intelligent girl. I had great fun pushing little "Mihai" in his car down the long corridors to his nursery, at the other end of the palace, where I helped him to color pictures. George and I talked with his fine English nurse, who had been with the family for years. (This little boy was to become King of Roumania when he was six, when his father, Carol II, was exiled because of his liaison with a commoner, Mme. Lupescu.

While we were in the nursery Queen Marie came in, accompanied by her Prime Minister, John Bratianu, the oldest of three brothers who were said to be the real power behind the throne. George learned that the second brother, Vitella, was Minister of Finance, and the youngest a Senator and chairman of the finance committee. They were the owners of one of the largest banks in Roumania. The Prime Minister, an intelligent man with a small black beard, spoke encouragingly with us for a short time about Robert College.

The Queen then asked us to come in to see her private rooms. Her boudoir was Swedish, with an open fireplace in one corner. We went through a wonderful carved door into her bedroom, which had been modelled on a Greek church, with an arched roof, white columns and a blue tile floor. Over the mantel was a painting of white anemones by her sister, Grand Duchess Victoria of Russia. As George remembered in his dairy:

She passed rapidly around the room, picking up this and that object. . . . She knows the inner history of each treasure, and evidently loves them all for their beauty as well as for their association. Her mind is ever agile and intense. . . . She sat down by a bedroom window and fell to talking about her parents, her girlhood and her family. She drew Elizabeth down onto the couch beside her and, rather naturally, I spread myself on the rug at her feet, and we had an extraordinary fifteen minutes as she told us about her girlhood . . . her visits at the court of Queen Victoria . . . I shall never forget that conversation as I sat at her feet in that beautiful Byzantine bedroom.

Afterwards we walked around the palace grounds in the snow with Cornelia and Theron, finding the grave of the Queen's youngest child, who had died very young. Luncheon was served at a long round table in the state dining room. The Queen's father's collection of silver ship models—sixty-five of them, mostly dating from the medieval period—were displayed there. Several ladies-in-waiting and court officers were present and the conversation was not nearly so stimulating as at the private family dinners. In the center of the table was a gold bowl, again filled with primroses. The Queen was clever at drawing different people into the general conversation, and we did our best to contribute.

We had some time for writing in the afternoon, and then joined the royal family again for tea in the studio, where George Boscow, a Roumanian pianist, played for us, with soul and depth. After dinner the Queen read aloud from her delightful, clever fairy story, Peeping Pansy. This was the first of many readings, from her children's stories and later from her amazing diaries of World War I. She used the profits from her children's books to build several country retreats.

Each day in Bucharest was filled with activity. We had planned to stay for a week, but the Queen persuaded us to spend two, so that we could meet King Ferdinand when he had recovered from his operation. We felt that we could make useful contacts for the college, and we also saw and did many interesting and delightful things. But the Queen was much the greatest thing in the country! She gave us so much of herself that we felt as if we knew her quite intimately.

Like all Roumanians, she was devoted to music and attended almost all performances in Bucharest. This was an interest we could share with enthusiasm. On our first Saturday morning we went with her, King George and Queen Elizabeth to a rehearsal of the Bucharest Symphony, a fine orchestra conducted by M. Georgescu. The Queen whispered and commented often about the music to George, who was seated beside her. After the rehearsal we left the Queen's party and went to the American Embassy. We knew Mr. Jay, as he had been first secretary in Istanbul some years before. To quote George's diary about this call:

Mrs. Jay said that it took her three months to clean up the Legation [after the previous incumbent] . . . and Mr. Jay added that it had taken him four years to clean up American relations with Roumania.

. . . I talked with Mr. Jay about the question of recognition of the Robert College diploma by the Roumanian government, so that graduates could enter a Roumanian University. The question had been raised by Kuneff (a Roumanian student), who graduated last June. . . . The government has thus far refused to give him credit for work done there. The matter was taken up some months ago through Mr. Jay. He urged me this morning to ask Queen Marie to arrange for an interview with Mr. Angelescu, the Minister of Education. Mr. Jay, like everyone else, says that outside the cabinet itself the real power of the country is the Queen, and King Ferdinand, [although] good-natured and easygoing, is not very effective.

The Queen did graciously arrange this appointment for George, and a few days later he had quite a long interview. He reported that Mr. Angelescu, an animated gentleman with a heavy moustache, seemed to have the usual Roumanian contempt for Constantinople and everything Turkish. This was natural, since they had been ruled by the Turks against their will for so many years. After looking at the catalogue and a few of George's pictures of Robert College, he suddenly jumped up and broke in with, "Do you know what we are doing?", and plunged into a sea of figures and photographs on the changes in his country's educational system since World War I. As George recalled the visit:

He had a huge pile of pictures through which he rapidly ran, showing simple village schools and very fine city high schools, etc. He rang his bell furiously and demanded the immediate presence of the Director of Elementary Education, who appeared at once and flooded me with more statistics. The Minister grew more enthusiastic as he talked, raising his voice at the same time . . . finally blowing off steam, gesturing and lecturing with the most intense volubility. He finally promised with great unction that the Roumanian government will recognize whatever Robert College is doing.

The Queen usually attended church at the British Legation Chapel as she was an Anglican. But on our first Sunday in Roumania she felt it was important to attend a concert given by Boscow, who had performed for us at the palace. He was about the most wonderful pianist I have ever heard. He played a berceuse written by a very shy young Roumanian composer, Brailoiu, who happened to be sitting near us. There was so much applause that Boscow insisted the composer rise to share in the tribute to the performance.

We learned that Princess Ileana regularly attended Orthodox services in the old monastery church in the palace courtyard and later we enjoyed going to two services with her. Once the old priest prayed for the Princess and her friends from Constantinople.

In spite of her busy life the Queen was remarkable in the amount of time she gave us, and most thoughtful in remembering our interests. Sometimes she talked about her children—the responsibilities of the two daughters who were married to kings, her hopes for Ileana and her concern for Carol. She was very congenial with her second son, Nicholas, who was at Oxford. It was there he had met Mr. Buchman and became interested in Moral Rearmament.

When she was busy in the mornings we had our own palace car available to go about as we liked. George spoke on Robert College at the American Men's Club. A member of this group, the manager of Standard Oil (Roumanu-American), told him that the Roumanian government was very much afraid that the large peasant party might align with the Bolsheviks, so close at hand in Russia.

Queen Marie was seriously concerned with the problems of her people. She supported a number of charities and, knowing that we were similarly inclined, she invited the leaders of different philanthropies to meet us one day for tea in the studio. They were a most interesting group and some of them asked us to visit their institutions.

We went to several schools and orphanages, but of course for me the most interesting organizations were the YWCA and YMCA. The YMCA was run by three American secretaries. We had tea with them one afternoon in the old square house they used as a center with a portable shed behind it as a gym. They had two hundred and fifty regular members and about four hundred Boy Scouts. One of the young men had worked directly with Queen Marie at Jassy during the war when she headed the work in army hospitals.

Princess Ileana herself took us to the YWCA in Bucharest, which was directed by two young Roumanian women. They both spoke English well and one of them had spent a year at our National Training School in New York. They told me they were reaching about fifteen hundred girls and young women through the activities at the center and in the schools. Their quarters were cramped, but they were serving an average of four hundred meals a day in their tiny cafeteria and at the time we visited a large, enthusiastic group of girls was folk dancing in the attic! George commented that the YWCA could do more with inadequate space than any organization he knew.

Princess Ileana, who was honorary president of all the Girl Reserves in the country, led a group at a meeting that afternoon. As I talked with some of these lovely girls afterwards I realized that she was much loved. She became a great leader in girls' clubs and the YWCA in Roumania before she married a Hapsburg prince and went to live in Austria. We did not see as much of her as we would have liked on this visit, because she was so busy with her studies and work, but she and I later became very good friends. We kept up with each other through the many adventures and troubles she was to encounter. Her book I Live Again (Rhinehart & Co., New York, 1951), recounts these well.


Princess Ileana telling Girl Reserves in Chicago, 1926, about the YWCA in Roumania

One clear afternoon we drove with the Queen out to her farm "Copaceni." She had often ridden horseback over this farm when she was a young princess. Because she had loved the particularly beautiful wild flowers which grew there, she tried unsuccessfully to buy the place. Then, when the old man who owned it died in 1914, she found to her great surprise that he had left it to her in his will.

The large cloister-like house had low arched porches and was pure white inside and out except for dark wooden beams and doors. The large rooms were well heated by beautiful Roumanian tile stoves. We spent an hour or more tramping over the farm in the deep, soft snow. The Queen said that she had to keep pigs to pay for her rose garden, which contained varieties from all over the world.

At the end of the very long rose alleé stood her Transylvanian cottage, whitewashed, with high-peaked, thatched roof, in the style of the peasants of that part of Roumania. Inside the one large room were simple pictures of saints painted by a peasant artist. A tree served as a well-sweep in front of the house. We returned to the farmhouse for tea, which had been brought from the palace in a huge hamper.

That evening, by the fire in the studio, when we all felt relaxed after the afternoon of walking in the snow, the Queen began to read to the four of us from her wartime diary. This was a thrilling and intimate account of those terrible days of the German invasion. Roumania declared war on the side of the Allies in August, 1916. In November, when the German army was overrunning the country, the court and government moved with the army to Jassy, in Moldavia, the last part of the country under Roumanian control. At times all seemed lost.

The Queen's energy at this time was remarkable. She visited countless hospitals and refugees, cheering up the sick and wounded and encouraging the directors to improve conditions. She worked hard for her army and for the wounded. She did her best to induce quarreling ministers to perform the business of the country, and support the King, who was weak and needed her strength. As she read, she looked most regal in her blue velvet gown and long ropes of pearls.

George recorded what she told us in his journal. Queen Marie sometimes called him "the man with the pencil":

On every hand there was discouragement, disorganization and despair, . . . everyone complaining and laying the blame on others. . . . The Queen always wore a plain nurse's garb, and spent hours every day visiting hospitals, and arranging with a group of her ladies packets for sick soldiers. Typhus had begun to spread, and her physicians tried to keep her out of the hospitals, but she refused to obey them and went everywhere, and escaped from it unscathed.

. . . She has the real English ability to organize and the appreciation of precision, and the sense of time. 'My people are never on time,' she writes, and her recognition of their inability to 'run things' and of their dreadful neglect of the sick and of the wounded constantly appears. . . .

There is much . . . in the diary [about] Russia and Rasputin and the follies of the Czar and Czarina, who brought the end of Imperial Russia upon themselves. 'What blind obstinacy and corruption, [the Queen exclaimed] . . . She read to us until midnight, and was evidently quite worked up over the rereading of her diary [and of an article which] she had written in the heat and emotion which the news of their death produced.

. . . She has wonderfully clear insight into the meaning of such a hateful tyranny as that of the Czar's in Russia, and also into the wonderful scope and opportunity for helpful service to a great country which was [his when he was crowned in 1894.] The article is an extraordinary picture of the sinister and baleful influence of the Czarina Alexandra over her husband, and its terrible effect throughout the Russian Empire.

George's ear had begun to hurt during the reading and Cornelia loaned him her hot water bottle to sleep on. It leaked during the night, soaking the royal pillows, but he was able to dry things out on the radiator. We felt thankful for the palace's heating system! He rested that morning and little Michael came in with his nurse to say he hoped the "man would be better soon." Queen Marie sent both a doctor and a nurse to treat him and he soon recovered.

On Friday, February 6, we met Crown Prince Carol for the first time at dinner. He had just come from London, leaving his wife, Princess Helen, in Paris for eye treatments. This young prince was to cause his family and country much pain. He had already made trouble in the summer of 1918. Just when his country was completely defeated by the Austrians and Germans, he resigned his army commission without permission, a serious offense. Then he ran away and married a Roumanian girl. They had a child but the marriage was annulled by the state because when King Carol I had been invited to rule the country an agreement was made that no prince of his family would marry a Roumanian, but would have to marry into some royal family. This was to prevent jealousies among the powerful Roumanian nobility. The Queen felt that this hasty marriage was a piece of 'young man's folly' of which he had repented. She had made him head of a foundation to spread culture throughout the country, and hoped this would be a constructive work for him. Unfortunately he was not popular.

As George wrote of this occasion:

Prince Carol sat at Queen Marie's left, directly opposite me so that I had a good chance to study him as well as to talk with him. . . . He had . . . light, wavy hair, quite the color of his mother's . . . rather fishy blue eyes, bulging a bit, a short yellow moustache . . . cheeks with considerable color, a weak mouth over a weak receding chin, a pleasant affable smile, a marked English accent and many mannerisms picked up from his mother which fit him less well than they do her. . . . He is good-natured and friendly but rather quiet, perhaps overshadowed by his active and talkative mother, as I fear all her children are. He gives at first no sense of strength or virile manhood, or of any special degree of thoughtfulness.

On our last Saturday, the Queen told us she thought King Ferdinand was well enough to come down for the palace cinema party. We had tea that day in the large, golden state hall, and many people were invited. At these movie parties the children of the palace servants would sit on the enormous grand staircase while the guests sat at the top. The week before we had seen a dramatic Rider Haggard movie, "The Moon of Israel," and tonight it was to be an American western.

As the guests were gathering the talk suddenly broke off and we looked up to see King Ferdinand enter the room, leaning on Queen Marie's arm, with Elizabeth and Ileana beside them. He wore a plain brown suit and his face was kind and genial under his full, brown beard. He and the Queen moved around the room speaking to each one, coming last to us. Theron and George shook hands and Cornelia and I curtsied. He was much handsomer than any of his pictures, with a friendly smile.

Next day, Sunday, we gathered at Prince Carol's modern palace for the ride out to Scroviste, the King's hunting lodge. George, Theron and Cornelia went in the Queen's closed car while I had the fun of riding with Princess Ileana and King George in Prince Carol's open Hispano Souza. He drove fast and well over the snowy roads—up to one hundred kilometers per hour, speeding past picturesque ox carts full of hay. We went like the wind and the cold air was glorious! It was a holiday and as we passed through quaint villages with whitewashed, thatched houses we saw the people out in their brightest clothes. In some places they were gathered in circles dancing the "hora," a native dance.

The lodge was in a very large forest of oaks and pines, where deer, foxes and even wolves roamed. A group of cottages overlooked a long lake where we walked on the thick ice before having a delicious, very hot lunch of several courses, brought out from the palace. The Queen had built a quaint little cottage nearby for herself. These country retreats, built in the simple, peasant style, seemed to give her much pleasure.

Next day we bid Queen Marie a tender farewell. She had an enthusiasm, a real love and sympathy for people that was endearing. Later she came to see us several times at Robert College, and we visited her again at her retreat at Balcic on the Black Sea. When she wrote she used to address us as "My Faithful Four."

She first visited us in the spring of 1928, not long after King Ferdinand's death. I was on my way home from a missionary conference in Jerusalem, when I received a cable at Beirut from George. Queen Marie was coming! She would arrive before I could reach home. I attended a YWCA reception for Mrs. Speer, president of the American National Board, that evening,
then hurried to board the train with no time to change the black lace dress I had worn for the occasion. On this journey I found myself sitting next to an Indian gentleman on his way to a Commonwealth meeting in London. He did not understand Turkish and I was able to save him from getting off at the wrong station for the connection to Constantinople. In this way we became friends and he showed me a letter of introduction to some people in Turkey—Mr. and Mrs. George Huntington!

Wiles, our chauffeur, met me when I reached Istanbul. He told me that when the Queen and her daughter, Princess Ileana, landed there were many there to cheer her. The college truck was not large enough to carry all her luggage, so the city had loaned a big red fire lorry, as well as a large, handsome automobile. There were police stationed at the college and three Turkish guards to accompany her everywhere.

When I reached the house she had gone for a drive up the Bosphorus with George and Cornelia Damon. Fortunately there was time for me to bathe and change, as I had spent four days and three nights sitting up in a second-class car on the train from Beirut. I did not see how Cornelia and George had ever arranged things so beautifully in both houses and I regretted not being there to help them, but that had been impossible. The Queen and Princess Ileana stayed with us; her lady-in-waiting and her aide-de-camp, Colonel Zweideneck, with the Damons, and the servants were spread out in various rooms of both houses. George's nephew, Tertius, who was spending the year with us, had moved to the attic to make room. The Queen's trunks filled the corridors and passageways, covered with beautiful material which she had brought with her and arranged so that they were not at all in the way.

Queen Marie looked older than she did three years before in Roumania, especially with her widow's veil. But she had not lost her beautiful smile. Her energy and life and interest and curiosity still shone through. Princess Ileana had grown up since we had seen her. She was a lovely girl, democratic, public-spirited and of a very religious nature. Queen Marie spoke at the College and Ileana, dressed as a Girl Reserve, talked to a group at the Service Center about this work, of which she was the leader in Roumania.

We went to many parties and receptions while they were with us. The Queen gave a tea party on Prinkipo Island, asking many people including the British, French and Russian ambassadors. The British Embassy loaned several launches for the occasion. We had a special tour of Topcapu, the Palace of the Sultans, on the Bosphorus at the Point of Stamboul. The curator showed us many treasures kept from the eyes of tourists, escorted us through the harem, which is not usually open, and in the beautiful Bagdad Kiosk we were served tea from an ancient, swinging coffeepot, in cups encrusted with jewels.

The Queen was tremendously energetic and wanted to see everything. She never seemed to get weary and loved to go to the bazaars of old Stamboul, but I left the shopping expeditions to George and Theron. I missed a few excursions with the Queen because I had to take care of my "poors" and meet tourists who came to see the college. That was always one of my jobs. I was delighted to have a visit just at this time from Father's sister, Aunt Alice, and Uncle Will Osborn. We had them for dinner with the Queen and Dr. and Mrs. Gates.

There was only one scare during this tremendously successful visit. While the Queen was out, Princess Ileana, then nineteen, asked our nephew, Hunt Damon, who was fifteen, how she could arrange to swim the Bosphorus. Of course he was thrilled to help her, and they went to the dock, hired a boat and she swam across. Meanwhile the Queen returned to the house and was frantic because the young couple had not thought to tell anyone where they were going! Queen Marie gave Ileana a stern scolding, but other than that, there was nothing to mar the visit in any way.

Queen Marie had built a summer retreat at Balcic on the Black Sea, called "Tenha Yuva," which means "Solitary Nest" in Turkish. George and I, Theron and his son, Hunt, visited her there that summer. The house, which resembled a mosque with a small dome and minaret, overlooked the sea and the white cliffs. In the gardens below were masses of roses, lilies, delphiniums and hollyhocks of pastel shades. We stayed in the guest house, a quaint cottage, all irregular angles and odd-shaped rooms. On my bed was a beautiful Indian shawl given the Queen by her grandmother, Queen Victoria. In this house we seemed surrounded by the sights and sounds of water. Many waterfalls rushed down the cliffs to the singing waves of the sea.

We had most of our meals on the Queen's porch, which overlooked the garden and the ocean. Sometimes she would keep us there for a long time, reading from her new fairy story The Lost Princess. She was a fine walker, and took us by a wild, steep path up to her vineyard, where we had a glorious view of the sea from the cliffs. We came down with our arms full of masses of gorgeous purple and gold flowers. The Queen and Princess Ileana were accustomed to wander about alone, going into the peasants' houses to make friends, and everyone seemed to adore them. The people there spoke Turkish, which she and Ileana did not understand, so I could be useful in translating.

The Prime Minister, Mr. Bratianu, came to see the Queen while we were there. He went for a sail with us on Ileana's yawl, where we were all crowded together into the cockpit, with the Queen's four lively dogs jumping all over us. Hunty and I swam the three hundred meters from the boat to the shore. When we returned to the palace the butler was shocked because the Queen insisted on an informal dinner on the porch, even though the Prime Minister was there.

Princess Ileana had built a YWCA summer home on the hill above the palace, and the first girls were to arrive soon. When we returned to Istanbul I went straight to the Bazaar and purchased bedspreads to be sent to Balcic and Turkish quilts to be sent to Bucharest for her YWCA social service school there. I loved helping her because she was doing such unselfish work.

Queen Marie visited us several more times at Robert College. Once she brought her eldest daughter, Queen Marie of Yugoslavia, for an official visit to the Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church. George, the Damons and I accompanied them on this occasion. Athanagoras I was seated under a canopy at the end of the long reception hall, dressed in a black robe and tall black hat. He had a long white beard and the kindest face I ever saw. The two Queens were seated facing him, one on either side of his throne-like chair. Fourteen metropolitans and archbishops, wearing black veils over their "stovepipe" hats, sat along one side of the room while we watched from the other side. The Patriarch addressed us in German. Afterwards he showed us the "Greek treasurers"—crowns of Byzantine emperors, icons and other valuable antiquities. Many of these had been saved from Santa Sophia before the Moslem conquest in 1453.

Athanagoras had been Bishop of North and South America before his election as Patriarch. He loved Americans and enjoyed conversing in English. He took a great interest in the Istanbul Service Center (YWCA), and had thrilled our director, Phoebe Clary, by visiting her there. He even inspected our camp on the Sea of Marmora.

Queen Marie's last visit was at the height of spring, when the wistaria and flowering shrubs were at their best. She was sad because Princess Ileana had just had to break her engagement to a young Roumanian. It was fine weather for picnics and the Queen loved to get away from the crowds who always gathered around her, and escape from her watchful police guardians. One day we went off into the hills for an alfresco lunch under the arches of an aqueduct which was over a thousand years old. During this visit the Queen had the use of Ataturk's launch, Sakarya, named for his famous battle that saved Turkey from the Greeks and won him the title "Gazi" (Conqueror). We sailed up the Bosphorus to Therapia, the beautiful estate belonging to the British Embassy, which had been built by the former Khedive of Egypt.

The Queen especially enjoyed our college chapel services, and I used to talk with her afterwards about the sermons. She said once that we gave her "spiritual refreshment." After that visit she invited the whole Damon family to come to Balcic. They were all very tired and their little daughter, Caroline, had been ill, so it was thoughtful of her to offer them such an opportunity. Caroline was so thrilled she could hardly speak. She said she was going even if she died on the way!

In the fall of 1933, we had a surprise visit with King Alexander and Queen Marie of Yugoslavia, Queen Marie's eldest daughter, when Alexander came to confer with Ataturk (the Gazi). Early one morning as George was teaching his first class, he received a call from the King, inviting us to lunch on the royal yacht. I must have been in the city, for I remember George and I met at noon in front of the Gazi's palace, Dolma Bagche, to catch a launch out to the yacht. When we arrived there was no launch. We were almost late, so we knocked on the gates of the palace and someone kindly arranged to take us out. We had lunch on board and a wonderful talk all afternoon. Fortunately I knew French so we could all understand each other in that language. King Alexander had many plans for his country, which he had just succeeded in uniting. The Gazi had invited them for dinner that evening. Only a few months later this promising, young king was killed by an assassin's bullet. We did not see Queen Marie again as we were soon to leave Turkey, but I have kept up with Ileana. She came to live in America when the Communists took over Roumania.


Princess Ileana and Queen Marie on a visit to Istanbul

George and Elizabeth Huntington en route for Christmas
at the Damons on Robert College campus in 1921


FOOTNOTES TO CHAPTER XIII

1. Frank Nathan Daniel Buchman (1878-1961) was an American minister who founded "Moral Rearmament" during a visit to Oxford University in 1921. He and his followers organized groups in many parts of the world. This was sometimes called "The Oxford Movement" but is not to be confused with the earlier "Oxford Movement," begun in 1833 with the aim of making reforms in the Anglican Church.

2. Samuel Moor Shoemaker, born 1893, was a noted American minister. He was graduated from Princeton in 1916, then studied at General and Union Theological Seminaries in New York. He was secretary of the YMCA in Peking (1917-1919), and secretary of the Philadelphian Society (the campus YMCA) at Princeton (1919-1924). He was rector of Calvary Episcopal Church in New York (1925-1932) and of Calvary Episcopal Church, Pittsburgh after 1952. He is the author of several books including The Church Alive, New York, Dutton, 1950, and How To Become a Christian, New York, Harper, 1953.

3. King George II of Greece (1890-1947) succeeded his father, King Constantine, in 1922, but was exiled in 1923 when Greece became a republic. He was recalled as king in 1935, the year he and his wife, Elizabeth, were divorced, fled the country in 1941 when the Germans overran Greece and was recalled by plebiscite in 1946. His brother, Paul, succeeded him in 1947.

4. Soon after ascending the throne Michael was disposed by his father who became dictator. Modeling himself after Mussolini, Carol II abdicated during World War II and Michael became king again for a short time, making a brave but unsuccessful attempt to stand up against the Russians.