Trashy Royals podcast

54. Elisabeth of Wied, First Queen of Romania, and Literature's Carmen Sylva

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However much 'protocol' may attempt to intervene, the truth is that eccentricity is a trait that even royals have. This is certainly the case for Elisabeth of Wied, a German princess who became Romania's first queen, wife of Romania's King Carol I. Politics in Europe were extra complex in the latter half of the 19th century. In Russia, Tsar Alexander II had concluded his father's Crimean War in 1856, but even with the defeat of Russia in the conflict, the Ottoman Empire was in retreat. As Ottoman influence waned, former vassal states, including what would become modern Romania, were shaped by the other great powers and their own internal politics, which led to the unification of several formerly Ottoman principalities into what is now Romania. And what does a newly independent player on the European stage need? A royal house, of course! And wouldn't you know it - the Germans had so many of those lying around that it was easy pickings to find some stuffy but qualified guy to 'elect' king. King Carol I was both a liberalizing influence on the new nation's politics, as well as personally fastidious and, according to accounts, quite humorless. Which must have been tough on his wife, Elisabeth, a flamboyant writer with an artist's temperament who is better known by her nom de plum, Carmen Sylva. She was enough of a handful in the Romanian court that her husband once exiled her back to Germany for a couple of years, from which she sent letters to the Romanian Crown Prince's wife, Marie of Edinburgh, that she hoped Marie's forthcoming baby would turn out to be a girl! Listen ad-free at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

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