On Tour with Queen Marie


The Twin Cities and the Farmers of North Dakota

WE RATHER RESENTED ALIGHTING from the train that afternoon when we arrived in St. Paul. One can grow so accustomed to the roar and noise of the wheels and the jostling of the railroad as to miss the motion when one is deprived of it. The train stopped at Minneapolis first, where the Prince and Princess alighted and, under the chaperonage of Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Washburn, were taken to the tennis club to get some healthy exercise, which was the only thing we lacked in our moving palace. Mr. and Mrs. Washburn, having originally come from Minneapolis, asked to do the honors in their native home. They had arranged for a group of young people to meet the Prince and Princess, and the two could hardly wait for a few hours of the informality they had been longing for ever since they reached America. They were taken through a flour mill of the city and later to the country club where the Princess played tennis in a driving rain, while the indefatigable reporters cornered the Prince. He is a rather shy chap but acquitted himself creditably (considering the posers that were put to him!). He stated that he had not come to America to hunt a bride, wealthy or other wise, and when asked what he thought about the American flapper he said, "They are an old story. Every time I go to Paris I see a lot of them." He also said he did not believe that marriage outside of royalty was advisable as it created so many difficulties. "It really isn't fair to the girl, you know," he said. "Besides, there are too many attractive princesses." Which I thought left things as ambiguous as a diplomat could ask. Some time later when several of us were chatting with Princess Ileana, and had mentioned that her mother said she wanted her to make a love match and at the same time marry royalty, Ileana answered lightly that she didn't think that was at all inconsistent, as princes could be as attractive as other men, and Prince Nicholas, whom we hadn't seen near, piped up hopefully, "Look at me. I am a prince, and don't I do all right?"

At the flour mill his sister said to him when he donned the white linen cloak and miller's cap to protect his clothing, "You look like an apache, Nicky." Nicholas appeared in his glory studying the mechanics of flour making. Meanwhile, the Queen, who had gone on to St. Paul on the train, was taken from the station, where she stood on a decorated platform facing the huge crowd and receiving the addresses of a group of her compatriots, into a radio room where she delivered a short address, inviting the farmers of North Dakota to come on the train with their wives and children to meet her when the train was to stop at the various cities along the way the next day. At each stop two farmers and their wives were invited to come on board the train and ride with her so as to chat in formally over the many questions she wished to ask them about their homes, their schools, their farming operations, to take their progressiveness to her own people, to make her trip more enduring than the mere pleasure of it would be. She said one reason for her desire to see America was to find out at first hand how the farmers here are meeting their agricultural problems, how we have built up our remarkable transportation systems and developed the flour mills and other industrial enterprises kindred to farming. She said she would lay aside her role as Queen and meet typical American citizens informally the next day when she was to journey through North Dakota; that Roumania was also a large farming country and her people had the same problems as those of the Northwest, and everything they could tell her was of interest to her heart. She was taken from the radio station to her automobile, and motored to the Minnesota State Capitol with the escort of a band and a battalion of infantry, an imposing military demonstration. At the Capitol the Queen met Governor Christiansen and his wife, and the Minneapolis reception committee headed by the Mayor. The question of silk hats and cutaways had caused much havoc here, and each person decided to do as he pleased on this subject, resulting in an interesting variety of costumes. After the ceremony at the Capitol the Queen went to the only Roumanian Orthodox Church in St. Paul, a little structure beyond the railroad tracks, shabby and poor. Here, as in Philadelphia and Montreal, she was greeted with that same childlike enthusiasm by her fellow countrymen. Late in the afternoon the Queen motored to Minneapolis where the chief citizens were presented at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. In spite of the pouring rain, great crowds lined the streets to see her pass. Nothing seemed to dampen the ardor of these western demonstrations. We felt the new breezy spirit of it through all. That evening we were guests at a dinner and reception at the home of Mr. Louis W. Hill, a son of the late James J. Hill, and Chairman of the Board of the Great Northern Railroad. A snowstorm whirling in icy spangles powdered us before we reached there, motoring through the glorious cold night. This party was very delightful and homelike. Since it was the first private invitation which had been accepted, it was quite a relief after the exceedingly formal banquets and pompous affairs which we had attended. The Queen looked particularly young that night as she wore a more informal frock of pale pink crêpe de chine with one string of pearls and no head ornament. Princess Ileana wore a frock similar. We left this hospitable house with much regret to return to our train where the Queen sent out a proclamation that she hoped no high hats would raise their shiny heads in North Dakota the next day.

I do not know what has come over the Colonel. He and I spent several hours together this afternoon. He took my arm most affectionately and asked me to take him back to the car where he had some business to transact, that Washburn being in Minneapolis he had no one to escort him. Of course, I gladly consented and we had quite a sociable time, for no one knows better how to exert his particular charm—when he wants to. The journey is now well organized and all bids fair to proceed without any further interruptions. I retired to-night exhausted after a long hard day, but somewhat relieved as to our future prospects.

Monday, November 1.

The sun is shining brightly enough but the landscape is bleak and bare. November, the saddest month of the year, is beginning. I wish the Queen might have chosen a pleasanter season in which to see our country. It seems to me nothing appears at its best in November, especially in this wild western country where the spring and summer vegetation lends a caressing beauty to the severe countryside. All the national parks are closed now, and the Queen will not see the real glory of our western scenery. We are in North Dakota, and, true to her promise, the Queen has been receiving farmers at each small town where we stop. There are two of these in the observation car with her now with their wives and children—plain, upstanding people, "clever" in the old country use of the word, and as she knows much about farming in her own country she is getting some fine points from these experienced people of the soil in the West. She seems to be so intensely interested in what they are telling her. Great crowds collect at all the places where we stop, as the installments of farmers continue dropping off after an hour's ride. Her radio message from St. Paul concerning that unique and endearing idea has evidently had a far-reaching effect. Western generosity has known no bounds. She has been offered everything on earth to take back to Roumania, a plow, a harvesting machine, a cow, a few horses, a sewing machine, and too many other useful and I might say untransportable articles to mention. I think she will have to charter a ship if she takes them all!

When the Queen came into her reception car at Dickinson, North Dakota, to meet some of these farmers she was dressed in the Roumanian costume. It was the most beautiful and becoming thing she had worn since coming to America. It consisted of a long white robe embroidered in old rose and gold over which was a cloak affair of old rose linen embroidered at the shoulders in great diamond shaped patterns of dull blue and gold. On her feet were red leather boots from Transylvania, and on her head was the marama, a white veil which covered her hair and passed beneath her chin. Princess Ileana came after her wearing a long white embroidered cloak with a black scarf bound around her head. The train rounded a curve as the Queen entered the reception car and threw her squarely into the lap of Mr. Sperry, one of the farmers of Bismarck. Queen Marie laughed as Mr. Sperry helped her up. "That certainly was an informal introduction," she exclaimed.

Seeing the Queen in this most picturesque garb of her country reminded me of my visits in Roumania, when all the members of Her Majesty's entourage, and her guests as well, wore these superb costumes which are veritable works of art. It was while we were in the Carpathian Mountains, where Queen Marie lives the simple life during the summer months at the Palace of Pellice in Sinaia and the wonderful old feudal castle of Bran in Transylvania. I love the castle of Bran—this marvelous relic of feudal days, a massive building on top of a high hill with thick walls resembling a fortress, for which purpose it was originally constructed. This fantastic remnant of past ages became the property of Queen Marie after the War and is her favorite abode and refuge from the cares and worries of state. She has devoted much loving thought to the furnishing of this old mass, trying to reproduce as closely as possible the atmosphere of by-gone ages in the interior of the building as well as in the embellishments of the courtyards and the exterior. When the Queen asked me to select any photograph of her I desired, I chose the one with this majestic castle in the background and with Her Majesty standing under the shadow of this fine building in the meadow below, dressed, as I saw her then, in the peasant costume of her country which I so admire.


An interesting article on the costumes and needle work of Roumania appeared in one of our current papers from which I take the liberty of quoting.

"The costumes of the peasants of Roumania, whether they are of Transylvania, Bessarabia, Bukovinia or yet the roving Tzigani, enchant one with their wonderful sense of color and sometimes miraculous needlework which make of these extraordinary national costumes a most prolific source of inspiration. We are all familiar with the various photographs of Queen Marie of Roumania wearing the traditional costume of the simple peasant folk, but there are many who have never visualized the exquisite color combinations, the amazing sense of values displayed by these people. They are really costumes to delight the soul and satisfy the sense of coquetry of the most blasé élégante. The needlework and embroidery done upon these national costumes are simply prodigious. One wonders how any fingers, however nimble, could find the time to finish it all with such exquisite effect. . . . The aprons which the peasants wear would make a book of very agreeable reading. They are often completely covered with the most lovely designs which are beautifully symmetrical and then embroidered and covered with beautiful sequins. . . . The kerchief too is one of the most becoming and charming of headdresses, and one finds that the piquancy of the ruddy-faced girls is vastly enhanced by this graceful and becoming mode. Queen Marie is especially partial to it. Her auburn beauty is enhanced by the soft folds of this kerchief. The visit of Her Majesty Queen Marie of Roumania will doubtless inspire all the smart dressmakers and modistes to invent fashions and styles which will endure long after this inspiring person has left our shores."

We have been hearing through the newspaper people on the train that the New York papers are full of information about the state of health of the King of Roumania. They say he is suffering from every conceivable ailment, but the Roumanians on the train deny this. On the Queen's birthday a telegram was received saying that the King sent his love and was in Sinaia in the Carpathian Mountains resting and feeling much better, and that he was so pleased to hear of the Queen's great success. Queen Marie was cheered by this good news, and does not seem to be at all anxious since receiving this telegram.

At Fargo, Valley City, Bismarck, and Mandan huge crowds collected around the train. Romance is not yet dead when a beautiful woman who is a queen can collect such crowds as we have seen all along the line from East to West—rough hardy farmers, cowboys, Indians, mechanics, men of the soil and people of high position and of low—all her willing slaves and admirers. I have always said that the American is the most idealistic and romantic creature, poetic and imaginative, in spite of all the commercialism of our life to-day. Now I am convinced of this fact! Where else in the world could one woman attract such crowds, tell me?


Queen Marie spoke to them all from the rear platform, and always asked if there were any Roumanians among them, and as they emerged from the crowd she shook hands with them all. At Mandan we had a unique ceremony, one that I was specially happy for the Queen to see, for her own imaginative eye well appreciates that this is the heart of the ancient days of America. A large company of Indians in their native costumes, with wonderful feather headdresses covered with beads, and beaded sandals, escorted the Queen from the train to the entrance of their tepee where she was initiated with all the cabalistic formulas into the tribe and became the "War Woman of the Sioux Indians." The Queen was asked to be seated on a buffalo robe which was spread on the ground, and six of the chiefs carried her with great ceremony into the tepee where we were told later they pricked her finger and took a few drops of blood and offered mysterious incantations, giving her the title of "Winyan Kipanpi Win," which means "The Woman Who Was Waited For." A war bonnet symbolic of the high estate of the wearer was placed on the Queen's head by Chief Red Soma Tomabarok as a badge of her acceptance into the tribe and I think every photograph taken that day shone with her delighted smile. The tent was crowded with innumerable Indians, men and women, all in full costume, while a drum was beaten and a dance of braves and squaws around the Queen completed the ceremonies. The old ruling chief who helped carry the Queen to the ceremonial tepee was the same who killed Sitting Bull. There were a number of young Indian girls in the crowd, all of whom seemed to be well educated and intelligent. They told me they were attending the Government school in the Indian Reservation. That afternoon we stopped at a place called Medora where a whirling cloud of golden dust finally settled to disclose a crowd of cowboys and young women on broncos riding up to the train, to give a Wild Western welcome. We had been told that the Queen wished to ride here, and as she always uses a side saddle a few had been taken along from St. Paul. I had my riding breeches as I prefer the regular Western saddle when riding these horses. So the Queen, Princess Ileana, Prince Nicholas and I mounted and rode out with the cowboys to the mountains. Major Washburn accompanied us. The rest followed in automobiles. We had the happiest sort of time, and Queen Marie enjoyed every moment of the freedom of movement, looking exceedingly well in her English riding habit, brown felt hat and red leather boots. The cowboys gave us an excellent show, but not one of them was able to throw a bull. The sun was setting behind the bare hills when we turned our reluctant faces towards the train. There was a glory of color reflected in a rosy glow on the low sandy hills which formed a natural amphitheater. We were told that there were many gold mines throughout these parts. Crowds of people saw us off at the station and gave us a regular war whoop as the train pulled out. That evening Colonel Carroll, his most pleasant self, and Mr. and Mrs. Washburn, also the General Manager of the train, Mr. Shipley, dined in our car and we smoked the pipe of peace. A delightful incident took place that afternoon, we were told. A boy about twelve years old, by the name of Lester Brown, from Idaho, hitched on the train as we pulled out of the last station and was taken along. The Queen rewarded him by inviting him to dine with her in her car and the Prince and Princess made him feel quite at home by playing "bean bag" with him in the corridor of the car. The Queen presented him with a copy of the book The Lost Princess, upon his departure in Spokane. He was a clever lad and knew what he wanted.