It was surely on purpose. She was referred to as Majesty and buried as Reine Mère de Roumanie (not as Mère du Roi de Roumanie).
It was once explained that King Michael got around the sticky situation of his mother never having been a queen consort, in order to qualify as a queen mother, by using the fact that his father (King Carol I), when assuming the Romanian throne in 1930, backdated his reign to 1928. As of then, he and Helen were still legally married, thereby making her into the official Queen of Romania.
Then, using a broad definition of QUEEN MOTHER -- as a woman who is both the wife of a king and mother of a reigning monarch -- Helen could have qualified as such, despite not being the widow of a king. Her position would have been akin to that of Therese of Bavaria, Paola of the Belgians and Sofia of Spain.
I personally am wary of broadening the definition of this term, which I have always understood to be a dowager queen who is also the mother of a king/queen regnant. Of course, I'm influenced by a British bias, according to which it is strictly emphasized that a queen mother is a special type of dowager queen.
Otherwise, if one expands the definition of QUEEN MOTHER, then it could easily have applied to the mother of Queen Victoria ...
The trouble in all this is that it's not even an official title, to start with: even in the UK, it's only an unofficial one. So it's no wonder that the formal definition of QUEEN MOTHER is not entirely clear, and has often been loosely used accordingly.
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