Michael of Romania



Michael (Romanian: Maiestatea Sa Mihai I Regele Românilor, literally "His Majesty Michael I King of the Romanians", born 25 October 1921) was the last King of Romania, reigning from 20 July 1927 to 8 June 1930, and again from 6 September 1940, until forced to abdicate by the communists backed up by orders of Joseph Stalin to the Soviet armies of occupation on 30 December 1947.
In addition to being the current holder of the dis-established throne of Romania, he was also a Prince of Hohenzollern until 10 May 2011, when he renounced this title.
H.M. King Michael I in historical city of Alba Iulia, Romania in 2007

A great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria by both of his parents, and a third cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, he is one of the last surviving heads of state from World War II  the others being the former King Simeon II of Bulgaria and the former King Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia.


 The young King Michael of Romania during his first reign.

Michael of Romania, King of the Romanians Reign : 20 July 1927 – 8 June 1930  (2 years, 323 days)
Predecessor : Ferdinand I
Successor : Carol II
Reign : 6 September 1940 – 30 December 1947 (7 years,105 days)
Coronation : 6 September 1940 (age 18)
Predecessor : Carol II
Spouse : Anne of Bourbon-Parma
Issue :Margarita, Crown Princess of Romania
Princess Elena, Mrs. Alexander Philips
Princess Irina, Mrs. John Kreuger
Princess Sofia, Mrs. Alain Biarneix
Princess Marie, Mrs. Casimir Mystkowski
House House of Romania
Father : Carol II of Romania
Mother : Elena of Greece and Denmark
Born : 25 October 1921 in Sinaia, Kingdom of Romania

Queen Helen & Crown Prince/King Michael of Romania, early 1930s.
Michael was born in the Foişor Castle or Peleş Castle, Sinaia, Romania, the son of Carol II of Romania (then Crown Prince of Romania) and Princess Elena of Greece. He was born as the grandson of the then-reigning King Ferdinand of Romania. When Carol II eloped with his mistress Elena "Magda" Lupescu and renounced 'temporarily' his rights to the throne in December 1925, Michael was declared the heir apparent. He succeeded to the throne upon Ferdinand's death in July 1927.

'The Crown of Romania’ trailer
This is a trailer from the documentary film entitled “Coroana Romaniei” (“The Crown of Romania”), directed by Marian Baciu from Sahia Studios in Bucharest, produced in 2010. The author of this blog presents the reigns of King Carol I, King Carol II, and His Majesty King Michael, together with the historian Valentin Mandache. King Ferdinand and his achievements are likewise surveyed. DM source

 

Rule - 1930s and the Antonescu era
A regency, which included his uncle, Prince Nicolae, Patriarch Miron Cristea, and the country's Chief Justice (Gheorghe Buzdugan, from October 1929 on Constantin Sărăţeanu) functioned on behalf of the 5-year-old Michael during the 1927–1930 period.[10] In 1930, Carol II returned to the country at the invitation of politicians dissatisfied with the Regency, and was proclaimed king by the Parliament, designating Michael as Crown Prince with the title "Grand Voievod of Alba-Iulia". In November 1939, Michael joined the Romanian Senate, as the 1938 Constitution guaranteed him a seat there upon reaching the age of eighteen.[11] In September 1940, the pro-German anti-Bolshevik régime of Prime Minister Marshal Ion Antonescu staged a coup d'état against Carol II, whom the Marshal claimed to be 'anti-German'. Antonescu suspended the Constitution, dissolved the Parliament, and re-installed the 18-year-old Michael as King by popular acclaim. (Although the Constitution was restored in 1944 and the Romanian Parliament in 1946, Michael did not either subsequently take a formal oath or have his reign approved retroactively by Parliament.) 

Michael was crowned[12] with the Steel Crown and anointed King of Romania by the Orthodox Patriarch of Romania, Nicodim Munteanu, in the Patriarchal Cathedral of Bucharest, on the day of his accession, 6 September 1940.[13] Although King Michael was formally the Supreme Head of the Army and entitled to appoint the Prime Minister with full powers named 'Leader of the people' ("Conducător"), in reality he was forced to remain only a figurehead until August 1944.

 Turning against Nazi Germany
In 1944, World War II was going badly for the Axis powers, but the military dictator Prime Minister Marshal Ion Antonescu was still in control of Romania. As of August 1944, the Soviet conquest of Romania had become inevitable, being expected in a few months.[15] On 23 August 1944, Michael joined the pro-Allied politicians, a number of army officers, and armed communist-led civilians[16] in staging a coup against Antonescu, whereas it was recognized in the late 1970s that King Michael ordered his arrest by the Royal Palace Guard. On the same night, the new Prime Minister, Lt. General Constantin Sănătescu—who was appointed by King Michael—gave custody of Antonescu to the communists (in spite of alleged instructions to the contrary by the King), who delivered him to the Soviets on 1 September.

 In a radio broadcast to the Romanian nation and army, Michael issued a cease-fire just as the Red Army was penetrating the Moldavian front,[16] proclaimed Romania's loyalty to the Allies, announced the acceptance of the armistice offered by Great Britain, the United States, and the USSR, and declared war on Germany.[19] However, this did not avert a rapid Soviet occupation and capture of about 130,000 Romanian soldiers, who were transported to the Soviet Union where many perished in prison camps.[16] Although the country's alliance with the Nazis was ended, the coup sped the Red Army's advance into Romania.

In March 1945, political pressures forced King Michael to appoint a pro-Soviet government dominated by the Romanian Communist Party. Under the communist régime King Michael functioned again as little more than a figurehead. Between August 1945 and January 1946, during what was later known as the "royal strike," King Michael tried unsuccessfully to oppose the first communist government led by the communist Prime Minister Petru Groza, by refusing to sign its decrees. In response to Soviet, British, and American pressures, King Michael eventually gave up his opposition to the communist government and stopped demanding its resignation.

Romanian stamp from 1942, commemorating the one year anniversary of the liberation of Bessarabia from Soviet occupation, featuring Michael and Antonescu below the text Un an de la desrobire ("A year of emancipation") and the fortress of Bender in the background.

The armistice was signed three weeks later on 12 September 1944, on terms the Soviets virtually dictated. Under the terms of the armistice, Romania recognized its defeat by the USSR and was placed under occupation of the Allied forces with the Soviets, as their representative, in control of media, communication, post, and civil administration behind the front. The coup effectively amounted to a "capitulation", an "unconditional" "surrender". It has been suggested that the coup may have shortened World War II by six months, thus saving hundreds of thousands of lives.

King Michael was the last monarch behind the Iron Curtain to lose his throne. At the end of the war, King Michael was awarded the highest degree (Chief Commander) of the Legion of Merit by U.S. President Harry S. Truman. He was also decorated with the Soviet Order of Victory by Joseph Stalin "for the courageous act of the radical change in Romania's politics towards a break-up from Hitler's Germany and an alliance with the United Nations, at the moment when there was no clear sign yet of Germany's defeat," according to the official description of the decoration. He is the only surviving recipient as of 2009.

Reign under communism
He did not pardon former Marshal Antonescu, who was sentenced to death "for betrayal of the Romanian people for the benefit of Nazi Germany, for the economic and political subjugation of Romania to Germany, for cooperation with the Iron Guard, for murdering his political opponents, for the mass murder of civilians and crimes against peace".

Michael in 1947.

Nor did King Michael manage to save such leaders of the opposition as Iuliu Maniu and the Bratianus,[25] victims of communist political trials, as the Constitution prevented him from doing so without the counter-signature of communist Justice Minister Lucreţiu Pătrăşcanu (who was, himself, later eliminated by Gheorghiu-Dej's opposing communist faction). The memoirs of King Michael's aunt Princess Ileana[26] quote Emil Bodnăraş—her alleged lover,[27] Romania's communist minister of defense, and a Soviet spy[28]—as saying: "Well, if the King decides not to sign the death warrant, I promise that we will uphold his point of view." 

Princess Ileana was skeptical: "You know quite well (...) that the King will never of his free will sign such an unconstitutional document. If he does, it will be laid at your door, and before the whole nation your government will bear the blame. Surely you do not wish this additional handicap at this moment!"

He did not pardon former Marshal Antonescu, who was sentenced to death "for betrayal of the Romanian people for the benefit of Nazi Germany, for the economic and political subjugation of Romania to Germany, for cooperation with the Iron Guard, for murdering his political opponents, for the mass murder of civilians and crimes against peace". Nor did King Michael manage to save such leaders of the opposition as Iuliu Maniu and the Bratianus,[25] victims of communist political trials, as the Constitution prevented him from doing so without the counter-signature of communist Justice Minister Lucreţiu Pătrăşcanu (who was, himself, later eliminated by Gheorghiu-Dej's opposing communist faction). 

The memoirs of King Michael's aunt Princess Ileana[26] quote Emil Bodnăraş—her alleged lover,[27] Romania's communist minister of defense, and a Soviet spy[28]—as saying: "Well, if the King decides not to sign the death warrant, I promise that we will uphold his point of view." Princess Ileana was skeptical: "You know quite well (...) that the King will never of his free will sign such an unconstitutional document. If he does, it will be laid at your door, and before the whole nation your government will bear the blame. Surely you do not wish this additional handicap at this moment!"

In November, 1947 King Michael traveled to London for the wedding of his cousins, The Princess Elizabeth (the future Queen Elizabeth II) and The Duke of Edinburgh, an occasion during which he met Princess Anne of Bourbon-Parma (his second cousin once removed), who was to become his wife.

According to unconfirmed claims by so-called Romanian 'royalists', King Michael did not want to return home, but certain Americans and Britons present at the wedding encouraged him to do so; Winston Churchill is said to have counseled Michael to return because "above all things, a King must be courageous." 

According to his own account,[30] King Michael rejected any offers of asylum and decided to return to Romania, contrary to the confidential, strong advice of the British Ambassador to Romania.

On 30 December 1947 the royal palace was surrounded by the Tudor Vladimirescu army units loyal to the Communists. Michael was forced at gun point (by either Petru Groza or Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, depending on the source) to abdicate Romania's throne.

Later the same day, the Communist-dominated government announced the 'permanent' abolition of the monarchy and its replacement by a People's Republic, broadcasting the King's pre-recorded radio proclamation[34] of his own abdication. On 3 January 1948, Michael was forced to leave the country, followed[35] over a week later by Princesses Elisabeth and Ileana, who collaborated so closely with the Soviets they became known as the King's "Red Aunts."

According to Michael's own account, the Communist Prime Minister Petru Groza had threatened him at gun point[37][38][39][40] and warned that the government would shoot 1,000 arrested students if the king didn't abdicate.[41] In an interview with The New York Times from 2007, Michael recalls the events: “It was blackmail. They said, ‘If you don’t sign this immediately we are obliged’ — why obliged I don’t know — 'to kill more than 1,000 students' that they had in prison.”[8] According to Time magazine,[1] the communist government threatened Michael that it would arrest thousands and steep the country in blood if he did not abdicate.

However, according to the autobiography of the former head of the Soviet intelligence agency NKVD, Major General Pavel Sudoplatov, the Deputy Soviet Foreign Commissar Andrey Vyshinsky personally conducted negotiations with King Michael for his abdication, guaranteeing part of a pension to be paid to Michael in Mexico.[42] According to a few articles in Jurnalul Naţional,[43][44] Michael's abdication was negotiated with the Communist government, which allowed him to leave the country with the goods he requested and by some of the royal retinue.[44]
According to the Albanian communist leader Enver Hoxha, who recounts his conversations with the Romanian Communist leaders on the monarch's abdication, King Michael was threatened with a pistol by the Romanian Communist Party leader Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej rather than Petru Groza so as to abdicate—recount which lacks any factual evidence. He was allowed to leave the country accompanied by some of his entourage and, as confirmed also by the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev recounting Dej's confessions,[45] with whatever properties he desired, including gold and rubies.[46] Hoxha does say in his book that the Romanian communist leaders had threatened King Michael with their loyal army troops, which had encircled the royal palace and its troops loyal to King Michael.
According to Time magazine,[47] in early 1948 there had been negotiations between King Michael and the communist government over the properties he left behind in Romania and those negotiations delayed his denunciation of the abdication as illegal.
There are reports[48][49][50][51][52] that Romanian communist authorities, obedient to Stalin, allowed King Michael to part with 42 valuable Crown-owned paintings in November 1947, so that he would leave Romania faster.[50] Some of these paintings[53] were reportedly sold through the famed art dealer Daniel Wildenstein. One of the paintings belonging to the Romanian Crown which was supposedly taken out of the country by King Michael in November 1947, returned to Romania in 2004 as a donation [48][54][55] made by John Kreuger, the former husband of King Michael's daughter Princess Irina.
In 2005 Romanian Prime Minister Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu[56] denied these accusations about King Michael, stating that the Romanian government has no proof of any such action by King Michael and that, prior to 1949, the government had no official records of any artwork taken over from the former royal residences. However, according to some historians, such records existed as early as April 1948, having been, in fact, officially published in June 1948.[57]
According to Ivor Porter's authorized biography,[58] Michael of Romania: The King and The Country (2005), which quotes Queen-Mother Helen's daily diary, the Romanian royals took out paintings belonging to the Romanian Royal Crown on their November 1947 trip to London to the wedding of the future Queen Elizabeth II; two of these paintings, signed by El Greco, were sold in 1976.
According to recently declassified Foreign Office documents, when he left Romania, the exiled king Michael's only assets amounted to 500,000 Swiss francs.[59] Recently declassified Soviet transcripts of talks between Joseph Stalin and the Romanian Prime-Minister Petru Groza[60][61] show that shortly before his abdication, King Michael received from the communist government assets amounting to 500,000 Swiss francs. King Michael, however, repeatedly denied[62] [63][64] that the communist government had allowed him to take into exile any financial assets or valuable goods besides four personal automobiles loaded on two train cars.

Life after the loss of the throne
In January 1948,[1] Michael began using one of his family's ancestral titles, "Prince of Hohenzollern,"[2][65] instead of using the title of "King of Romania." After denouncing his abdication as forced and illegal in March 1948, Michael resumed use of the kingly title.


King Michael of Romania & Queen Anne, Athens 14 May 1962

On 10 June 1948 in Athens, Greece, he married Princess Anne of Bourbon-Parma (b. Paris, 18 September 1923). They lived first in Britain[66] and later settled in Switzerland. The Communist Romanian authorities illegally stripped him of his Romanian citizenship in 1948. He became a commercial pilot and worked for an aircraft equipment company. He and his wife have five daughters.


Queen Anne of Romania: 87th Birthday AnniversaryQueen Anne w. King Michael of Romania, Crown Princess Margarita
source

In 1992, three years after the revolution which overthrew the Communist dictatorship, the Romanian government allowed Michael to return to his country for Easter celebrations, where he drew large crowds. In Bucharest over a million people turned out to see him.[67] Michael's popularity alarmed the government of President Ion Iliescu, so Michael was forbidden to visit Romania again for five years. In 1997, after Iliescu's defeat by Emil Constantinescu, the Romanian Government restored Michael's citizenship and again allowed him to visit the country.

He now lives partly in Switzerland at Aubonne and partly in Romania, either at Săvârşin Castle in Arad county or in an official residence in Bucharest—the Elisabeta Palace—voted by the Romanian Parliament by a law concerning arrangements for former heads of state.

According to the succession provisions of the Romanian kingdom's last democratically approved monarchical constitution of 1923, upon the death of King Michael without sons, the claim to the Crown devolves once again upon the Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen family (see "Line of succession to the Romanian throne").

However, on 30 December 2007, on the 60th anniversary of his abdication, King Michael signed the Fundamental Rules of the Royal Family of Romania
by which he designated Princess Margarita as heiress to the throne with the titles of "Crown Princess of Romania" and "Custodian of the Romanian Crown." On the same occasion, Michael also asked the Romanian Parliament that, should it consider restoring the monarchy, it should also abolish the salic law of succession.

Michael participated in the Victory parade in Moscow in 2010 as the only living Supreme Commander-in-Chief of a European State in the Second World War. The name of Michael I is listed on the memorial in the Grand Kremlin Palace as a hero of World War II.

On 10 May 2011, on a background of lawsuits in Germany brought against his family by his German relatives regarding the former name Hohenzollern-Veringen of his son in law, Radu, and of fears expressed by some that the German Hohenzollerns may claim succession to the headship of the Romanian royal house, Michael severed all of the dynastic and historical ties with the princely house of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, changed the name of his family to "of Romania", and gave up all princely titles conferred to him and to his family by the German Hohenzollerns.

Political positionsMichael cannot be said to have encouraged monarchist agitation in Romania and royalist parties have made little impact in post-communist Romanian politics. He takes the view that the restoration of the monarchy in Romania can only result from a decision by the Romanian people.

"If the people want me to come back, of course, I will come back," he said in 1990. "Romanians have had enough suffering imposed on them to have the right to be consulted on their future." King Michael's belief is that there is still a role for, and value to, the monarchy today: "We are trying to make people understand what the Romanian monarchy was, and what it can still do" (...for them). According to a 2007 opinion poll conducted at the request of the Romanian Royal House, only 14% of Romanians were in favour of the restoration of the monarchy. Another 2008 poll found that only 16% of Romanians are monarchists. Michael has undertaken some quasi-diplomatic roles on behalf of post-communist Romania. In 1997 and 2002 he toured Western Europe, lobbying for Romania's admission into NATO and the European Union, and was received by heads of state and government officials.
In December 2003, allegedly to the "stupefaction of the public opinion in Romania", Michael awarded the "Man of The Year 2003"[76] prize to the then Prime Minister Adrian Năstase, leader of the PSD party, on behalf of the tabloid VIP. The daily Evenimentul Zilei subsequently complained that 'such an activity was unsuited to a king and that Michael was wasting away his prestige', with the majority of the political analysts 'considering his gesture as a fresh abdication'.




Personality and personal interests
Michael has had a reputation for taciturnity. He once said to his grandmother, "I have learned not to say what I feel, and to smile at those I most hate." Before getting to know his future wife, Anne of Bourbon-Parma, Michael had a romantic relationship with, among others, a Greek woman, Dodo Chrisolegos, a protégée of the former Romanian Communist Party leader Ana Pauker. Some claim that political influences had been exerted upon King Michael through this liaison. Michael was head of the Romanian Boy Scouts in the 1930s.
Michael is passionate about cars, especially military jeeps. He is also interested in aircraft, having worked as a commercial flight pilot during his exile.
On 10 May 2007, King Michael received the Prague Society for International Cooperation and Global Panel Foundation's 6th Annual Hanno R. Ellenbogen Citizenship Award, previously awarded to Vladimir Ashkenazy, Madeleine Albright, Václav Havel, Lord Robertson, and Miloš Forman. On 8 April 2008, King Michael and Patriarch Daniel were elected as Honorary Members of the Romanian Academy.


Family

Coat of arms of the Kingdom of Romania (1881-1947)


Michael and Anne have five daughters:
Elena and Irina have sons and daughters. Sofia has a daughter.


Honours

King Michael retaining his dignity as fons honorum is Grand Master of the Romanian Royal Orders, such as
  • The Order of Carol I (Romania)
  • The Order of Michael the Brave
  • The Order of Ferdinand I
  • The Order of the Crown (Romania)
  • The Order of "Bane Merenti" of the Ruling House
The King also received numerous foreign Honors and decorations among those are:
  • Order of Victory (Soviet Union)
  • Grand Cross of the Légion d'honneur (France)
  • Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (United Kingdom)
  • Chief Commander of the Legion of Merit (United States)
  • Grand Cross of the Royal Order of the Redeemer (Kingdom of Greece)
  • Grand Cross of the Royal Order of George I (Kingdom of Greece)
He has also received awards from others:

  • Freedom of the City of London (United Kingdom)

King Michael of Romania at Westminster Abbey, 29 April 2011 

King Michael I of Romania & Crown Princess Margarita among other royal guests at the royal wedding, Westminster Abbey, 29 April 2011.

On 27th of April 2011 took place an official dinner given in honour of HM King Michael of Romania Majesty King Michael I of Romania by Sir Gavyn Arthur (the 675th Lord Mayor of London). At the official dinner took part representatives of the Guild of Freemen of the City of London.

HRH Crown Princess Margarita of Romania: Birthday Anniversary


HRH Crown Princess Margarita w. her father HM King Michael of Romania
26 March 2011: A very Happy Birthday to HRH Crown Princess Margarita of Romania!



King Michael of Romania’s radio message broadcast on 24 February 1997I would like to invite you to listen to HM King Michael of Romania’s radio message to the nation, broadcast 14 years ago by Radio Free Europe, shortly before he was allowed to return to Romania by officially regaining the country’s citizenship, abusively withdrawn by the communist regime nearly five decades before, on 2 February 1948. It is a highly emotional instance to listen to such a remarkable personality that has suffered with such a high dignity and indeed heroically for his country, for so many years. My hope is for those who listen, to meditate on the recent tragic history of Romania under the terrible communist dictatorship. In his message, King Michael expresses his happiness and joy for regaining his rights as a simple Romanian citizen and also pledging “to remain faithful to my oath taken when I have been proclaimed the sovereign of this country; I do not belong to any group or party, but I belong to every one of you… I come towards you not to demand, but to give, not to command, but to unite…” Those extraordinary words were uttered 14 years ago…, how many of us have listened and answered to His Majesty’s gracious call? DM


HM King Michael’s 89th birthday anniversary concert


HRH Crown Princess Margarita’s speech, “Romanian Athenaeum”, Bucharest 25 October 2010




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