So far in the 171-year history of the Baha’i Faith, the monarchs of two very different nations have become Baha’is. In the next two installments of our series on Baha’is and theocracy, let’s take a look at their records and see what kinds of policies they each initiated during the time they ruled.

The first Baha’i from a royal family, Queen Marie of Romania, became a Baha’i shortly after her husband King Ferdinand died and her five-year-old grandson Michael ascended to the throne. Before becoming a Baha’i, she and her husband famously led a liberalized Romania that expanded its reach and scope after World War I. Well-known as the real decision-maker in the Royal Couple, Queen Marie led a European nation emerging from its oppressive past into a modern future.

Ferdinand and Marie as Crown Prince and Princess, 1893

Ferdinand and Marie as Crown Prince and Princess, 1893

Queen Marie, who was born into the British Royal Family as the granddaughter of Queen Victoria, became one of most popular royal figures in European history; at least partly because of the significant personal risks she and her three daughters took treating cholera victims and the wounded during the World War. Seen in her country, across Europe and in the United States as a particularly effective leader both before and after her husband the King passed away, Marie impressed the suffragettes and women’s equality advocates in the West as “a woman whose wits had devised many a coup d’état, whose brains had thought out many a difficult problem for her people, who had used the gifts given her to further every good purpose.”

Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, described (and quoted) her this way:

… possessed of a charming and radiant personality; highly talented, clear-visioned, daring and ardent by nature; keenly devoted to all enterprises of a humanitarian character, she, alone among her sister-queens, alone among all those of royal birth or station, was moved to spontaneously acclaim the greatness of the Message of Baha’u’llah… This illustrious queen may well deserve to rank as the first of those royal supporters of the Cause of God who are to arise in the future, and each of whom, in the words of Baha’u’llah Himself, is to be acclaimed as “the very eye of mankind, the luminous ornament on the brow of creation, the fountainhead of blessings unto the whole world.”

“Some of those of my caste,” she, in a personal letter, has significantly testified, “wonder at and disapprove my courage to step forward pronouncing words not habitual for crowned heads to pronounce, but I advance by an inner urge I cannot resist. With bowed head I recognize that I too am but an instrument in greater Hands, and I rejoice in the knowledge.”

In the first of these testimonies she affirmed that the writings of Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha are “a great cry toward peace, reaching beyond all limits of frontiers, above all dissensions about rites and dogmas… It is a wondrous message that Baha’u’llah and His Son Abdu’l-Baha have given us! They have not set it up aggressively, knowing that the germ of eternal truth which lies at its core cannot but take root and spread… It is Christ’s message taken up anew, in the same words almost, but adapted to the thousand years and more difference that lies between the year one and today…. If ever,” wrote the Queen, “the name of Baha’u’llah or Abdu’l-Baha comes to your attention, do not put their writings from you. Search out their books, and let their glorious, peace-bringing, love-creating words and lessons sink into your hearts as they have into mine… Seek them and be the happier.” – Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, pp. 389-390.

Queen Marie visiting hospital

Queen Marie visiting hospital

Her Highness Queen Marie of Romania – despite her pioneering accomplishments as a sculptor, writer, dancer, artist, humanitarian, suffragette, fearless servant of the ill and wounded, diplomat, delegate to the Paris Peace Conference, Princess, Queen and Dowager Queen of her nation – considered her identity as a Baha’i the most important role of her entire life:

The Baha’i teaching brings peace and understanding. It is like a wide embrace gathering together all those who have long searched for words of hope. It accepts all great Prophets gone before, it destroys no other creeds and leaves all doors open. Saddened by the continual strife amongst believers of many confessions and wearied of their intolerance towards each other, I discovered in the Baha’i teaching the real spirit of Christ so often denied and misunderstood: Unity instead of strife, Hope instead of condemnation, Love instead of hate, and a great reassurance for all men. – Queen Marie, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 93.

The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BahaiTeachings.org or any institution of the Baha’i Faith.

8 Comments

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  • Hari Tapatahi
    Nov 24, 2017
    Have you any other source besides what is within the Faith?
  • Hari Tapatahi
    Nov 24, 2017
    Are there other sources besides Shoghi Effendi?
  • Duncan McDougall
    Mar 22, 2017
    Having grown up in Wilmette, I have long been aware of the Baha'i Faith. While serving as a Fulbright professor of business in Romania years ago, I wrote a poem during the Christmas season, and published it in my blog. It seems to me to parallel some of the Baha'i teachings. Here is a link to that poem: http://dcmcd2.blogspot.com/2012/12/christmas-poem.html.
    I would appreciate your thoughts regarding my view. Thank you! -Duncan McDougall
  • Jimmy Seow
    Mar 18, 2017
    Thanks for sharing. She would be talked about by monarchs and royals in the future to have the courage and conviction to embrace new ideas of good and to champion it despite expectations of norm royal behaviour and aspirations plus been a women. I wonder what her contemporary royals thought of her Bahai life of which I have yet to come across their accounts. We need a royal to become a Bahai to access those materials if any to do that research
  • Oct 12, 2015
    The Queen's Soul must weep to find the Faith she embraced proved itself to keep women in a subordinate role, even though it promised the Equality of Women at the time she joined the Faith --- Like the Maid of Heaven, in the Holy Mariner she must weep and nash her teeth to find the corruption and male patriarchy dominating the religion. Martha Root would have told Her about Tahirih who taught: "With the Power of Equality injustice will be no more." 1840's
  • Jun 26, 2015
    Lovely article David, certainly surpassing the efforts of this amateur. Consider adding for posterity details surrounding the Esperantism of both the Queen and her Baha'i teacher, Martha Root, as noted in Star of the West. These heroines spoke Esperanto to one another and exchanged Esperanto gifts. Martha considered the annual world congress of Esperanto the focal point of her Baha'i teaching. Baha'i love. Paul
  • Jun 26, 2015
    Lovely article David, certainly surpassing the efforts of this amateur. Consider adding for posterity details surrounding the Esperantism of both the Queen and her Baha'i teacher, Martha Root, as noted in Star of the West. These heroines spoke Esperanto to one another and exchanged Esperanto gifts. Martha considered the annual world congress of Esperanto the focal point of her Baha'i teaching. Baha'i love. Paul
  • An incredible Queen, soul,woman, who moves me eacht time I read about her, She is one of the mot courageous and examplanary women of our age.