Pauline Elisabeth Ottilie Luise zu Wied (29 December 1843 – 2 March 1916) was the Queen consort of Romania as the wife of King Carol I of Romania, widely known by her literary name of Carmen Sylva. Elisabeth was the aunt of William of Albania (sister to William, 5th Prince of Wied, father of William of Albania)
Born at “Schloss Monrepos” in Neuwied, she was the daughter of Hermann, Prince of Wied, and his wife Princess Marie of Nassau, daughter of William, Duke of Nassau (and sister of Adolphe, Grand Duke of Luxembourg). Elisabeth had artistic leanings; her childhood featured seances and visits to the local lunatic asylum.
As a young girl, sixteen-year-old Elisabeth was considered as a possible bride for Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (the future Edward VII of the United Kingdom, known as Bertie). His mother, Queen Victoria, strongly favored her as a prospective daughter-in-law, and urged her daughter Princess Vicky to look further into her. Elisabeth was spending the social season at the Berlin court, where her family hoped she would be tamed into a docile, marriageable princess. Vicky responded, “I do not think her at all distinguée looking – certainly the opposite to Bertie’s usual taste”, whereas the tall and slender Alexandra of Denmark was “just the style Bertie admires”. Bertie was also shown photographs of Elisabeth, but professed himself unmoved and declined to give them a second glance. In the end, Alexandra was selected for Bertie.
She first met Prince Karl of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen in Berlin in 1861. In 1869, Karl, who was now Prince Carol of Romania, traveled to Germany in search of a suitable consort. He was reunited with Elisabeth, and the two were married on 15 November 1869 in Neuwied. Their only child, a daughter, Maria, died in 1874 at age three — an event from which Elisabeth never recovered. She was crowned Queen of Romania in 1881 after Romania was proclaimed a kingdom.
In the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878 she devoted herself to the care of the wounded, and founded the Order of Elizabeth (a gold cross on a blue ribbon) to reward distinguished service in such work. She fostered the higher education of women in Romania, and established societies for various charitable objects. She was the 835th Dame of the Royal Order of Queen Maria Luisa. She died at Curtea de Argeş or Bucharest