H.M. the Queen of Bulgaria, whose self-sacrificing devotion to the sick and needy makes her a veritable "Queen of Charity." Her work for the wounded during the Russo-japanese War earned her the title of "The Russian Florence Nightingale "
"This land," his Majesty is related to have said one day, "is blessed. It produces anything with the slightest effort. You perceive all these flowers that it offers us in so profuse abundance; they are incomparable, and I have never seen any nearer perfection." His Majesty is an accomplished naturalist, and spends most of his time classifying insects and plants. He has catalogued nearly all the flora and fauna of Bulgaria, and in Sofia has established a zoological garden at his own expense.
At Varna, the Kins: and Queen lead the life of simple, home1y people; and here the Princesses and their brothers, Prince Boris and Prince Cyril, have spent most of their childhood. Meals are delightfully simple. For instance, there is no stately array of gorgeously dressed servants waiting at table. Dishes are passed round, and the King and Queen help themselves and their children. The King presides at the table himself, with his two daughters, one on either side of him, and plies them with questions during the meal. What have they been doing with themselves all the morning ? What did they see when they went for their walk ? How are they getting on with their lessons ? And so on. He will examine their lesson-books, listen to their reading, and admire the sewing which they have done under their stepmother's direction. In a word, his Majesty, like his wife, neglects no opportunity of showing his children that their interests are also his interests.
The manner in which Ferdinand came to the throne is one of the romances of modern history. He was merely a half-pay lieutenant in the Hussars in the Austrian service when, in 1887, the Bulgarian National Assembly elected him to succeed
Prince Alexander of Battenberg, who had abdicated.
At that time Bulgaria was passing through very troublous times. Turkey and Russia were striving for its conquest; and memory of the Bulgarian atrocities, when 12,000 men, women, and children were cruelly slain, was still fresh in the mind of Europe. Ultimately the Powers granted Bulgaria independence, and the first prince freely elected was Prince Alexander of Battenberg, cousin to the Grand Duke of Hesse.
In 1885 the outbreak of a rebellion in Roumania, and Prince Alexander's acceptance of its union with Bulgaria, provoked the jealousy of Servia. The consequence was that Milan invaded Bulgaria, and in the fourteen days' war which ensued the Bulgarians suffered temporary defeat. Then Prince Alexander turned the tables by entering the Servian territory at the head of 50,000 men.
Many were the plots put forward to assassinate King Ferdinand when he succeeded Prince Alexander to the throne, but they all failed, although the assassins killed Stam-buloff, who was to Bulgaria what Bismarck was to Germany. Ultimately, the manner in which King Ferdinand developed the country for his subject's good, set up a proper educational system, a network of railways, and plenty of good roads, and encouraged agriculture and town-building, and raised the army to the highest pitch of perfection, won the admiration and loyalty of all his subjects.
In this progressive policy King Ferdinand has been ably seconded by his wife.
' What a wonderful statesman she might have been ! " a famous European diplomat remarked, apropos of her Majesty's keen insight into international affairs. " For it is mainly due to her knowledge of the forces which have led to the development of the world's nations that she has been able to induce her husband and his advisers to institute the important movements which have for their aim the peace and prosperity of Bulgaria."
A Queen of Peace
The people recognise this; and one has only to see Queen Eleonore drive through the streets of Sofia, witness the enthusiastic greeting accorded her by her husband's subjects, to understand how deeply grateful they are to her for doing all that lies in her power to maintain an era of peace and commerce.
There was a glowing tribute to her Majesty in a Bulgarian journal a short time ago.
" We have been accustomed," said the writer, ' to regard force of arms as one of the main assets of this country. Queen Eleonore, however, thinks of the dead and dying ; of the fatherless homes ; the devastation and vengeful spirit that all wars breed; and in the years to come Bulgaria will recognise that she, with her high thoughts, refining influence, teachings, and counsel, has done more for our country than any single statesman."
Queen Eleonore has been termed the "Queen of Peace"; and whenever she visits a school, as she so often does, she never neglects an opportunity to instil into the young minds the benefits of peace and the value of becoming a good and prosperous citizen. " Peace and quiet," she is rather fond of saying, " bring out the good qualities of men and women."
At first she was somewhat disturbed by the fact that Prince Boris, King Ferdinand's eldest son, who was born in 1894, by his first wife, Marie Louise, eldest daughter of Duke Robert of Parma, is passionately fond of soldiering and the art of war; but, although he has inherited much of the bluff character of his father, the gentle, refining influence of his stepmother has made a great impression on his character during the last three years. A sturdy, handsome youth, Prince Boris promises to prove an ideal ruler when the time comes for him to occupy the throne. Prince Boris was originally baptised a Roman Catholic, but according to the Bulgarian Constitution the ruler must be a member of the Bulgarian Church. After a great deal of political and ecclesiastical controversy between the two Churches, the Bulgarian Government and Russia, young Prince Boris was re-baptised and placed in the charge of the Russian priest of the Greek Church. The Tsar stood as his sponsor at the ceremony, and the same day the National Assembly presented the infant Prince with £20,000 to be banked till his majority.
The Hope of a Nation
King Ferdinand's greatest hopes are centred on Prince Boris, and Queen Eleonore shares her husband's ambitions, particularly in regard to those which affect his son, and her counsel in regard to his upbringing has often proved of the utmost value.
Furthermore, Prince Boris relies on his stepmother's judgment to a very large extent, and consults her about most things concerning himself. Indeed, the bond of affection which exists between them is very • similar to that which characterises the lives of ex-king Manoel and his mother.
" Her Majesty is more than a mother to me," once remarked Prince Boris to a friend. "She is my constant companion. You see, she understands me so well, knows my little weaknesses, and helps to settle my everyday difficulties. My only regret is that I have known her for such a short period." And there are many other people in Bulgaria who echo the latter sentiment of Prince Boris in regard to the Tsaritsa of Bulgaria.
The triumphal entry into Orleans of Joan of Arc. The wonderful story of the heroic Maid and the legends that have gathered round her name nave inspired the oen of the poet and the brush of the painter in other lands than her native France.