Girls Who Wear Crowns
The evident beauty of the Russian Empress' face is so overshadowed by an expression of patient, pathetic melancholy that she arouses sympathy and curiosity in everyone. Undoubtedly the Czarina is not a happy woman. Russian Empresses have little enough to inspire content, and this pale, pretty creature with the sad eyes and mouth, endures daily such tests of her physical strength and moral courage as few American women would care or consent, for all the Russian state and power, to undergo.
Her husband, on the whole, is a kindly young man who is considerate, even affectionate, but he can do very little to mitigate the severe, even cruel, Russian court etiquette to which she must bow. With her he shares the daily terror of assassination, and with his people he laments the fact that the Empress has not yet given an heir to his throne.
In spite of her beauty and her virtues, the Empress is not loved by the Russian people nor consulted and confided in by her husband as her mother-in-law, Empress Dagmar, the dowager, was. She has neither the robust physique nor the ambitious interests of the clever dowager, and court intrigues, squabbles, and etiquette distress, disgust and fatigue her.
It is a fact well known that up to the very day before her betrothal, she resisted the change of her religion and Christian name that every Russian Empress consort must yield to. Again and again, she has fainted at the long receptions, balls and reviews through which, in spite of her illness, she is obliged to stand, and the only true comfort and solace she finds in her dreary splendor is the personal services and attentions she is allowed to lavish on her tiny girls.
In sharp contrast to this sad-faced Empress of the vastest domain in Europe, is the young, pretty Queen of the tiniest, cleanest, freest little kingdom on that continent. The Queen of Holland lives far more like a popular, petted young belle of society than a sovereign. While the Czarina never puts her foot out of her door without the heaviest guard, Queen Wilhelmina goes shopping, walking, skating and riding when the whim seizes her, with a single attendant, and that often but a favorite lady in waiting.
For all her love of junketing, dancing and outdoor sports the Dutch Queen is a conscientious worker, and just now she feels deeply interested in the International Peace Congress that meets on the 18th of May in one of her palaces, the House-on-the-Wood, just outside The Hague. — The Sacramento Daily Union, 1899
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