"Royalty is no longer quite royal": word and image in the children's tales of Queen Marie of Romania

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Abstract

This paper explores the role played by the children’s tales of Queen Marie of Romania in the construction of a distinctive vision of royalty between 1913-29. Straddling the First World War, from which Romania emerged enlarged and unified, the tales reflect the changing status of their author: from Crown Princess to wartime saviour to ‘Mother of all the Romanians’. The relationship between word and image is thus a complex one, involving not just interpretive correspondences between the Queen’s stories and the drawings of a range of international illustrators, but also the careful crafting of an idiosyncratic image of monarchy that presented Marie as figurehead of the young country, both at home and abroad. Within this wider iconography, the children’s tales became an effective vehicle for her self-portrayal as mother and nurturer of Greater Romania.
Core to the relationship was the way her tales appeared to give privileged insight into her own understanding of her changing role, breaking the boundary between fiction and lived reality. Conversely, they also became part of the performative nature of her public image, contributing to a theatrical vision of monarchy consciously enacted on the domestic and international stage. As such, this paper argues that there are identifiable links between the settings of the tales and Marie’s unusual interior design schemes. Bisected by the creation of Greater Romania, these related projects can be divided into two clear groups, each offering unique insight into the self-image of one of the most charismatic players in the early twentieth-century emergence of nations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-45
JournalImage & Narrative
Volume19
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2018

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