DRAGA, QUEEN OF SERBIA. (1866-1903). Queen Consort of King Alexander of Serbia, murdered with her husband in a bloody military coup. ALS. (“Draga Maschine”). 1 1/8pp. 8vo. Sachino [?], November 20, 1896. To a gentleman. In French with translation.
“The tickets for the lottery of the ring of her Majesty the Queen Nathalie of Serbia being at the jeweler Méllério in Paris, I just wrote to him to ask him to send you one … Please believe, sir, in my respectful regards…”
With the declaration of the Kingdom of Serbia in 1882, Milan I from the Austro-Hungarian-aligned House of Obrenović became its first king and his wife, Natalija, his queen. Draga Mašin was the granddaughter of a close friend of Prince Miloš Obrenović, the grand-uncle of King Milan. Our letter was written in her role as lady in waiting to Queen Natalija.
With the declaration of the Kingdom of Serbia in 1882, Milan I, from the Austro-Hungarian-aligned House of Obrenović, became its first king. Inexplicably, in 1889, he abdicated and named his 12-year-old son, Alexander I, as his heir. Because of his age, a ministry was formed that appointed his mother, Queen Natalija (who had divorced the former king), as regent. Four years later, Alexander led a coup d’état, declared himself of age and assumed full control of the government. Nevertheless, the former king and queen exerted their influence over Alexander leading him to appoint his father as commander-in-chief of the army in 1897, thus making former King Milan the de facto ruler of Serbia. A government pro-democracy faction blamed Milan’s influence for his son’s increasing authoritarianism and attempted to assassinate Alexander in 1899.
Alexander’s diminishing popularity and contentious relationship with his parents were further exacerbated when, in 1900, he married Draga Mašin, a widow, former lady in waiting to his mother and ten years his senior. Milan resigned his post in protest and Natalija’s opposition prompted Alexander to exile his mother from Serbia.
Draga’s rumored infertility fueled speculation that Alexander would name one of her brothers, unpopular army officers, heirs to the throne. In June 1903, army officers under the leadership of Serbian colonel Dragutin Dimitrijević, entered the palace, brutally murdered and mutilated the royal couple, and threw the bodies out of their bedroom window. The assassination led to the extinction of the House of Obrenović and the Serbian throne passed to the Russian-allied House of Karađorđević.
After the death of her only son, Queen Natalija took religious orders and spent her remaining years in a French convent. Our letter relates to an act of generosity on the part of the queen who, having recovered a lost ring, held a raffle for the jewelry at the fashionable Parisian jeweler, Méllério (still in existence) and donated the proceeds to charity.
Written on a folded sheet of pink paper and in fine condition. Accompanied by a photographic postcard of Queen Draga and several newspaper clippings. Rare!