Marie was city's queen for a day Majesty: Romanian royal's visit was Baltimore's first by a reigning monarch.

Remember When

November 09, 1997|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

The autumn visit in 1926 of Queen Marie of Romania to Baltimore was the first time a reigning monarch had visited the city. Despite a driving rain, Baltimoreans lined the curbs to catch a glimpse of the queen as the procession made its way up Charles Street to the Belvedere Hotel and later to the War Memorial.

Marie Alexandra Victoria of Saxe Coburg, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, related to the Romanoffs and the wife of King Ferdinand of Romania, was considered one of the world's most popular and beautiful women.

Her popularity began during World War I, when she donned a Red Cross uniform and nursed wounded Romanian soldiers. It was said that strong Slavic men wept when they saw pictures of her caring for the wounded.

In October 1926, she boarded the liner Leviathan for the voyage across the Atlantic to New York, accompanied by her two children, Princess Illeana and Prince Nicholas, plus 50 royal trunks.

President Calvin Coolidge announced that he was looking forward to her visit, but added: "It's all right, so long as she thoroughly understands she has to pay her own expenses."

'Elaborate plans'

"Elaborate plans have been made for entertaining the royal party, including an official luncheon at the Hotel Belvedere, which will be attended by about eighty Baltimoreans; the firing of a national salute of twenty-one guns and a reception at the War Memorial, where the Queen is expected to make a brief address," reported The Sun.

A strip of red carpet was laid on top of a wooden walkway that extended from City Hall across Memorial Plaza to the entrance of the War Memorial. The walkway was to be strewn with rose petals dropped by 20 public school pupilsdressed in white. City students were given a half-day off to witness the queen's arrival.

"In keeping with instructions issued by the State Department, to which every detail of the program had to be submitted for approval, shining top hats, morning coats, striped trousers and spats will be the order of the day in masculine attire," reported The Sun.

"Women attending the different functions will be gowned in the smartest styles available, Charles Street modistes reported yesterday," said the newspaper.

Much-desired invitations were hard to come by. Politicians remained uninvited. Even Gov. Albert C. Ritchie, who was engaged in a Western Maryland speaking tour, was unable to meet the Romanian monarch.

The guest list to what was described as one of the "most brilliant social events held in Baltimore in recent years" included Gen. Douglas MacArthur; Frederick R. Huber, longtime Lyric Theater director; Judge and Mrs. Morris Sopher; Dr. Henry Barton Jacobs; Dr. William H. Welch; and an assortment of society blue-bloods including Kinsolvings, Radcliffes, Goldsboroughs, Cabells, Biddles, Bruces and Garretts.

After visiting the Naval Academy, Queen Marie traveled to Baltimore and made her entrance into the city. The procession was greeted by massive crowds and ticker tape that floated from downtown office buildings.

"Despite the driving storm that swept the path followed by the royal visitor across the State, Marylanders gave her a welcome rivaling in warmth and demonstrativeness any ever given by them to a distinguished visitor. The Queen, in turn, smiled dTC through the murky scene, waved kisses to the crowds that greeted her on every hand and assured her hosts that she was 'touched beyond measure by it all,' and that it was 'too grand to be true,' " said The Sun.

Purple-draped facade

Arriving at the Belvedere Hotel, whose facade was draped in royal purple, Queen Marie and her party made their way to the 12th-floor double ballrooms, where she was greeted by Mayor and Mrs. Howard W. Jackson.

She made her grand entrance to the strains of the "Grand March" from Verdi's "Aida" and sat in a red plush throne-chair at a table filled with fresh roses. Waiters dressed in maroon uniforms and white gloves served champignons Colbert, Maryland biscuits, chicken Strasbourg-style, Virginia ham and orange sherbet.

Because it was Prohibition, sparkling mineral water was used to toast President Coolidge and the queen. After lunch, the official party returned downtown to the War Memorial, where they were greeted by thousands of spectators under umbrellas. As they walked across the wooden walkway, the 6th Field Artillery fired a 21-gun salute.

In an address at the War Memorial, the queen said, "I have come as a woman who feels the hearts of every other woman beating with the same feelings as I have myself, the love of humanity, the love of family, the love of country and, may I not add, the love of peace." At 3: 45 p.m., the royal party left for Pennsylvania Station and a private train for New York. "She continued the 'good-bys' as the procession moved up St. Paul Street to the station. Not until her train disappeared in the end of the Hoffman Street tunnel did the demonstration end," reported The Sun.

Several days later, the English press criticized the city's reception.

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