Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Where's the baby?

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 May 17, 1901

The current game in Belgrade, according to the Chicago Daily Tribune,  is "Baby, baby, who's got the baby?"  The report is based on diplomatic dispatches from Belgrade.

Queen Draga "was reported to have presented King Alexander with an heir."  The king's loyal subjects "promptly began to bombard the palace with beautiful cradles," baby clothes of the "finest cambric and laces, and all the little knick-knacks that go to make up the trousseau of the babe of the royal house."

But no one has seen a baby.  In fact, there is no baby, and to "make matters worse, this false rumor has put the capstone to a series of extraordinary happenings and rumors" in Belgrade.  Some rumors have reached the "proportions of a scandal."

This non-existent heir is caused all "sorts of royal trouble."   In February, Vienna newspapers proclaimed that Queen Draga was about to give birth.  More recently, the same papers announced the young prince would celebrate his first birthday in June 1902.

It seems more likely that these newspapers have been "imposed upon."  The rumors have also caught the attention of Nicholas II of Russia, who was one of the witnesses at King Alexander's wedding.  He sent a special envoy to Belgrade to investigate the matter.  But this puzzle proved too difficult for the envoy, so he called in three Russian and French specialists to come to Belgrade, and investigate the matter further.

The Viennese newspapers continue to report the story with great relish.  King Alexander also brought in two specialists, one from Vienna and the other from Bucharest.   The British Foreign Office has been inundated with telegrams regarding reports on the mysterious baby.

The Viennese correspondent for London's Daily Telegraph is reporting that Queen Draga's doctors have issued a bulletin stating that "the case is peculiar, and it is not impossible that an heir may be born in October."   But newspapers in Vienna are reporting that Draga was "seriously ill" and she need "protracted treatment."

Other reports hint at a deception perpetrated by Queen Draga.  Several rumors making the rounds in Belgrade is that the queen "failed in a deliberate attempt to foist upon the King the child of her sister as her own."  According to this report,  the King is "furiously angry" with the Queen, and if he can prove she "intentionally deceived him," he will "divorce her and banish her from the country.

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