Michael I of Romania

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Michael I of Romania
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Miron Cristea {{small>(1927–30)}}Gheorghe Buzdugan {{small(1929–30)}}}}| reg-type = RegentsCarol II of Romania>Carol II| birth_date = 25 October 1921| birth_place = PeleÈ™ Castle, Sinaia, Kingdom of Romania| death_date = 5 December 2017 (aged 96)| death_place = Aubonne, Switzerland| burial_date = 16 December 2017Curtea de ArgeÈ™ Cathedral>Curtea de ArgeÈ™ Monastery, Curtea de ArgeÈ™, Republic of RomaniaQueen Anne of Romania>10 June 1948end=died}}Margareta of RomaniaPrincess Elena of Romania>Princess ElenaIrina WalkerPrincess Sophie of Romania>Princess SophiePrincess MarieRomania) (from 2011)Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (until 2011)| father = Carol II of Romania| mother = Princess Helen of Greece and DenmarkRomanian Orthodox Church>Romanian Orthodox| reign-type1 = 2nd reign| reign1 = 6 September 1940 – 30 December 1947| coronation1 = 6 September 1940Carol II of Romania>Carol II| successor1 = Monarchy abolished | signature = Michael of Romania Signature.svg}}Michael I ( {{IPA-ro|miˈhaj|}}; 25 October 1921 – 5 December 2017) was the last King of Romania, reigning from 20 July 1927 to 8 June 1930 and again from 6 September 1940 until his forced abdication on 30 December 1947.Shortly after Michael's birth, his father, Crown Prince Carol of Romania, had become involved in a controversial relationship with Magda Lupescu. In 1925, Carol was eventually pressured to renounce his rights to the throne and moved to Paris in exile with Lupescu. In 1927, Michael ascended the throne, following the death of his grandfather King Ferdinand I. As he was still a minor, a regency council was instituted which comprised his uncle Prince Nicholas; the Patriarch Miron Cristea; and the president of the Supreme Court, Gheorghe Buzdugan. The council proved to be ineffective and in 1930, Carol returned to Romania and replaced his son as monarch, reigning as Carol II. As a result, Michael returned to being heir apparent to the throne and was given the additional title of Grand Voievod of Alba-Iulia.Carol II was deposed in 1940, and Michael once again became king. Under the government led by the military dictator Ion Antonescu, Romania became aligned with Nazi Germany. In 1944, Michael participated in a coup against Antonescu, appointed Constantin Sănătescu as his replacement, and subsequently declared an alliance with the Allies. In March 1945, political pressures forced Michael to appoint a pro-Soviet government headed by Petru Groza. From August 1945 to January 1946, Michael went on a "royal strike" and unsuccessfully tried to oppose Groza's Communist-controlled government by refusing to sign and endorse its decrees. In November, Michael attended the wedding of his cousins, the future Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark in London. Shortly thereafter, on the morning of 30 December 1947, Groza requested a meeting with Michael where he was forced to abdicate. Michael was forced into exile, his properties confiscated, and his citizenship stripped. He married Princess Anne of Bourbon-Parma in 1948, with whom he had five daughters, and eventually settled in Switzerland.Nicolae CeauÈ™escu's communist dictatorship was overthrown in 1989 and the following year Michael attempted to return to Romania, only to be arrested and forced to leave upon arrival. In 1992, Michael was allowed to visit Romania for Easter where he was greeted by huge crowds; a speech he gave from his hotel window drew an estimated one million people to Bucharest. Alarmed by Michael's popularity, the post-communist government of Ion Iliescu refused to allow him any further visits. In 1997, after Iliescu's defeat by Emil Constantinescu in the presidential elections of the previous year, Michael's citizenship was restored and he was allowed to visit Romania again. Several confiscated properties, such as PeleÅŸ Castle and SăvârÅŸin Castle, were eventually returned to his family.

Early life

(File:Prince Michael of Rumania 1927.jpg|thumb|Prince Michael aged 5)Michael was born in 1921 at Foișor Castle on the Royal Complex of Peleș in Sinaia, Romania, the son of Crown Prince Carol of Romania and Crown Princess Elena.WEB,weblink MS Regele Mihai I, 22 December 2016, He was born as the paternal grandson of the reigning King Ferdinand I of Romania and maternal grandson of the reigning King Constantine I of Greece.When Carol eloped with his mistress Elena Magda Lupescu and renounced his rights to the throne in December 1925, Michael was declared heir apparent. Michael succeeded to the throne of Romania upon Ferdinand's death in July 1927, before his sixth birthday.Bucur, Marie "Carol II" pages 87-118 from Balkan Strongmen: Dictators and Authoritarian Rulers of South Eastern Europe edited by Bernd Jürgen Fischer, West Lafayette: Purdue University Press, 2007 page 97. Later, Michael attended a special school established in 1932 by his father.WEB,weblink Regele Mihai la ṣcoală. Cum îşi amintea profesorul său despre el: N-a fost premiantul clasei, dar..., Realitatea .Net, 5 December 2017, WEB,weblink O şcoală pentru un singur copil, 5 December 2017,


1930s and the Antonescu era

File:Signal 16-1941..jpg|thumb|King Michael and Marshal Ion Antonescu on the banks of the Prut River ]]A regency, which included his uncle, Prince Nicolae, Patriarch Miron Cristea, and the country's Chief Justice (Gheorghe Buzdugan, and from October 1929, {{ill|Constantin Sărățeanu|ro}}) functioned on behalf of the 5-year-old Michael, when he succeeded Ferdinand in 1927.WEB,weblink Rulers of Romania, Rulers, 30 July 2012, In 1930, Carol II returned to the country at the invitation of politicians dissatisfied with the Regency in the context of the Great Depression, and was proclaimed king by the Parliament. Michael was designated as Crown Prince with the title "Grand Voivode of Alba Iulia".WEB,weblink FOTODOCUMENT. Mihai, Mare Voievod de Alba Iulia - Romania Libera, 22 December 2016, In November 1939, Michael joined the Romanian Senate, as the 1938 Constitution guaranteed him a seat there upon reaching the age of eighteen.weblink" title="">"Ce citeau românii acum 68 de ani?", Ziua, 29 November 2007.Just days after the Second Vienna Award, 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 in September 1940. (Although the Constitution was restored in 1944, and the Romanian Parliament in 1946, Michael did not subsequently take a formal oath nor have his reign approved retroactively by Parliament.) Michael was crownedweblink" title="">Fundamental Rules of the Royal Family of Romania, The Romanian Royal Family website as. Retrieved 8 January 2008 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.{{ro icon}} "The Joys of Suffering," Volume 2, "Dialogue with a few intellectuals", by Rev. Fr. Dimitrie Bejan – "Orthodox Advices" website as of 9 June 2007 Although King Michael was formally the Supreme Head of the Army, named Conducător ("Leader of the people"), and entitled to appoint the Prime Minister with full powers, in reality he was forced to remain a figurehead until August 1944.{{ro icon}} Ioan Scurtu, Theodora Stănescu-Stanciu, Georgiana Margareta Scurtu, The History of the Romanians between 1918–1940 ("Istoria românilor între anii 1918–1940") {{Webarchive|url= |date=2 October 2011 }}, page 280. Michael had lunch with Adolf Hitler twice â€” once with his father in Bavaria in 1937, and with his mother in Berlin in 1941.WEB, Thorpe, Nick,weblink Romania's ex-King Michael I defends his wartime record, BBC, 25 October 2011, 30 July 2012, He also met Benito Mussolini in 1941, in Italy.{{es icon}} "Comí con Hitler, era estirado y frío. Mussolini parecía más humano"

Turning against Nazi Germany

File:Cetatea Tighina 18+32.jpg|thumb|Romanian stamp from 1942, commemorating the first anniversary of the recapture of Bessarabia from Soviet occupation, featuring Michael and dictator Antonescu below the text Un an de la desrobire ("A year since liberation"), a portrait of Stephen the Great and the fortress of Bender in the background]]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. By August 1944, the Soviet conquest of Romania had become inevitable, and was expected in a few months."Bulgaria". Encyclopædia Britannica. On 23 August 1944, Michael joined the pro-Allies politicians, a number of army officers, and armed communist-led civilians in staging a coup against Antonescu. King Michael ordered his arrest by the Royal Palace Guard. On the same night, the new Prime Minister, Lt. General Constantin Sănătescu— appointed by King Michael—gave custody of Antonescu to the communists (in spite of alleged instructions to the contrary by the King), and the latter delivered him to the Soviets on 1 September.weblink" title="">"23 August – radiografia unei lovituri de Palat", paragraph "Predaţi comuniştilor", Dosare Ultrasecrete, Ziua, 19 August 2006 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, proclaimed Romania's loyalty to the Allies, announced the acceptance of the armistice offered by the United Kingdom, the United States, and the USSR, and declared war on Germany.Dictatura a luat sfarsit si cu ea inceteaza toate asupririle {{Webarchive|url= |date=2 December 2013 }} ("The Dictatorship Has Ended and along with It All Oppression") – From The Proclamation to The Nation of King Michael I on The Night of 23 August 1944, Curierul Naţional'', 7 August 2004 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."Romania – Armistice Negotiations and Soviet Occupation". the country's alliance with the Nazis was ended, the coup sped the Red Army's advance into Romania. 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",WEB,weblink Secret CIA report - RUMANIA, 10/5/1949, PDF, 5 December 2017, "Hitler Resorts To 'Puppets' In Romania", The Washington Post, 25 August 1944. an "unconditional""King Proclaims Nation's Surrender and Wish to Help Allies", The New York Times, 24 August 1944 "surrender". It has been suggested that the coup may have shortened World War II by six months, thus saving hundreds of thousands of lives.Constantiniu, Florin,"O istorie sinceră a poporului român" ("An Honest History of the Romanian People"), Ed. Univers Enciclopedic, Bucureşti, 1997, {{ISBN|973-9243-07-X}} {{ro icon}}At the end of the war, King Michael was awarded the highest degree (Chief Commander) of the American Legion of Merit by U.S. President Harry S. Truman.{{ro icon}} weblink" title="">"Cuvintele lui Harry S. Truman", Romanian, Prince Radu's blog, includes scan of citation, 23 June 2011 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. With the death of Michał Rola-Żymierski in 1989, Michael became the sole surviving recipient of the Order of Victory.{{ro icon}} Armata Română în Al Doilea Război Mondial. Romanian Army in World War II. Bucharest: "Meridiane" publishing house, 1995, p. 196

Reign under communism

In March 1945, political pressures forced King Michael to appoint a pro-Soviet government headed by Petru Groza. For the next two-plus years 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 Groza government by refusing to sign its decrees. In response to Soviet, British, and American pressures,{{ro icon}} weblink" title="">"What was done in Romania between 1945 and 1947 it has also been done since 1989", Ziua, 24 August 2000 King Michael eventually gave up his opposition to the communist government and stopped demanding its resignation.He did not pardon former prime minister, 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,{{ro icon}} Brief history of Sighet prison, BBC, 18 April 2007 victims of communist political trials, as the Constitution prevented him from doing so without the counter-signature of communist Justice Minister Lucrețiu Pătrășcanu (who himself was later eliminated by Gheorghiu-Dej's opposing communist faction). The memoirs of King Michael's aunt Princess IleanaWEB,weblink "I Live Again" by Ileana, Princess of Romania, Chapter 21,, 30 July 2012, quoted Emil Bodnăraș — her alleged lover,{{ro icon}}"History as a Soap Opera – The Gossips of a Secret Report (III)", Jurnalul Naţional, 18 June 2006 Romania's communist minister of defence, and a Soviet spyWEB,weblink "Development of the Romanian Armed Forces after World War II", Library of Congress Country Studies,, 20 August 1968, 30 July 2012, —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 sceptical: "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!"

Forced abdication

(File:Actul de Abdicare Mihai I.png|thumb|left|Abdication act, 1947.)In November 1947, King Michael travelled to London for the wedding of his cousins, Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II) and Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, an occasion during which he met Princess Anne of Bourbon-Parma (his second cousin once removed), who was to become his wife. According to his own account,weblink" title="">Speech By His Majesty Michael I, King of Romania to the Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies, London, 26 March 1997 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.Early on the morning of 30 December 1947, Michael was preparing for a New Year's party at Peleș Castle in Sinaia, when Groza summoned him back to Bucharest. Michael returned to Elisabeta Palace in Bucharest, to find it surrounded by troops from the Tudor Vladimirescu Division, an army unit completely loyal to the Communists. Groza and Communist Party leader Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej were waiting for him, and demanded that he sign a pre-typed instrument of abdication. Unable to call in loyal troops, due to his telephone lines allegedly being cut, and with either Groza or Gheorghiu-Dej (depending on the source) holding a gun on him, Michael signed the document.{{ro icon}} "King Michael between the ascension to the throne and abdication – VII", Ziarul financiar, 24 June 2001WEB,weblink The Republic was installed by way of the gun, 13 April 2006, bot: unknown,weblink" title="">weblink 27 October 2009, ro, , undated interview with H.M. King Michael in Ziua, as of 15 October 2008"Compression", Time, 12 January 1948{{ro icon}} weblink" title="">Mircea Ionnitiu : "30 December 1947", weblink" title="">site dedicated to HM King Mihai I of Romania and to the Romanian Monarchy as of 15 October 2008 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 proclamationFriends & Enemies, Presidents & Kings by Tammy Lee McClure, Accendo Publishing, page 99. Another account comes from the Romanian anti-communist dissident Paul Goma's {{ro icon}} "Skipped Diary" ("Jurnal pe sarite"), page 57. of his own abdication. On 3 January 1948, Michael was forced to leave the country, followed"2 Princesses Exiled By Romanian Regime", The New York Times, 13 January 1948 over a week later by Princesses Elisabeth and Ileana, who collaborated so closely with the Soviets that they became known as the King's "Red Aunts".W. H. Lawrence, "Aunts of Michael May Be Exiled Too", The New York Times, 7 January 1948 He was the last monarch behind the Iron Curtain to lose his throne.According to Michael's own account, Groza had threatened him at gun point"The Rescue of the Bulgarian Jews" {{webarchive|url= |date=7 September 2013 }}, as. Retrieved 21 January 2008WEB,weblink The Republic was installed with a pistol, 13 April 2006, bot: unknown,weblink" title="">weblink 27 October 2009, ro, , Ziua, May 1996{{ro icon}} weblink" title="">Timeline, weblink" title="">semi-official site dedicated to HM King Michael I, as. Retrieved 21 January 2008{{ro icon}}"Princess Margareta, designated dynastic successor", Antena 3, 30 December 2007 and warned that the government would shoot 1,000 arrested students, if the king did not abdicate."A king and his coup", The Daily Telegraph, 12 June 2005 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."NEWS, Craig S. Smith,weblink Romania's King Without a Throne Outlives Foes and Setbacks, The New York Times, 27 January 2007, 29 December 2014, According to Time, Groza threatened to arrest thousands of people and order a bloodbath unless Michael abdicated.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.Pavel Sudoplatov, Anatoli Sudoplatov, Jerrold L. Schecter, Leona P. Schecter, Special Tasks: The Memoirs of an Unwanted Witness—A Soviet Spymaster. Little, Brown and Company, Boston, 1994, page 232. {{ISBN|0-316-77352-2}} : "Vyshinsky personally conducted negotiations with King Michael of Romania for his abdication, guaranteeing part of his pension in Mexico." According to a few articles in Jurnalul Naţional,{{ro icon}}"The return from London and the abdication," Jurnalul Naţional, 17 November 2005{{ro icon}} "Communism – King Michael I's Abdication", Jurnalul Naţional, 11 December 2006 Michael's abdication was negotiated with the Communist government, which allowed him to leave the country with the goods he requested, accompanied by some of the royal retinue.According to Albanian Communist leader Enver Hoxha's account of his conversations with the Romanian Communist leaders on the monarch's abdication, it was Gheorghiu-Dej, not Groza, who forced Michael's abdication at gunpoint. He was allowed to leave the country accompanied by some of his entourage and, as confirmed also by the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev recounting Gheorghiu-Dej's confessions,Nikita Sergeevich Khrushchev, Sergeĭ Khrushchev.Memoirs of Nikita Khrushchev: Statesman, 1953–1964, Pennsylvania State University Press, 2007, page 701, {{ISBN|0-271-02935-8}} : "As Dej reminisced, 'We told him he could take everything with him that he considered necessary, but he had to leave his kingdom.'" with whatever properties he desired, including gold and rubies.Enver Hoxha.The Titoites. The "Naim Frasheri" publishing house, Tirana, 1982, pages 519–522, 572 Hoxha also wrote that pro-Communist troops surrounded the palace, to counter army units who were still loyal to the king.In March 1948, Michael denounced his abdication as illegal, and contended he was still the rightful king of Romania. According to Time magazine,"Anne & I", Time, 15 March 1948 he would have done so sooner, but for much of early 1948, he had been negotiating with the Communists over properties he had left in Romania.There are reportsweblink" title="">Miscellaneous, Evenimentul Zilei, 24 March 2005weblink" title="">Miscellaneous, Evenimentul Zilei, 14 March 2005weblink" title="">The Lia Roberts hope, Evenimentul Zilei, 19 January 2004George Radulescu (29 December 2007) weblink" title="">Monarchy, the only bastion against the communists, Adevărul{{ro icon}} Mihai Pelin has died {{Webarchive|url= |date=21 February 2008 }}, Romania libera, 17 December 2007 that Romanian communist authorities allowed King Michael to depart with 42 valuable Crown-owned paintings in November 1947, so that he would leave Romania faster. Some of these paintingsMichel van Rijn, WEB,weblink "Hot Art, Cold Cash", 24 May 2017, bot: unknown,weblink" title="">weblink 10 July 2007, , pages 177, 184, Little Brown & Co., October 1994. For more on the credentials of the UK police expert in art smuggling Michel van Rijn, see 1 {{webarchive|url= |date=10 December 2006 }} and 2. 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{{ro icon}} weblink" title="">"Raibolini's Madonna at the National Museum of Art of Romania", Ziua, 20 November 2004{{ro icon}} weblink" title="">"A Prestigious Donation: Madonna with the Infant by Francesco Raibolini, named "Il Francia"", Online Gallery site as of 8 December 2006 made by John Kreuger, the former husband of King Michael's daughter Princess Irina.In 2005, Romanian Prime Minister Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu{{ro icon}} "There Are No Proofs That King Michael Took Paintings out of Romania", Adevărul, 19 April 2005 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.Radu Bogdan (October 1998) weblink" title="">"Testimonials of contemporary history – Peles, January–April 1948. The inventorying of the former royal art works (III)", Magazin istoricAccording to Ivor Porter's authorized biography,{{ro icon}} weblink" title="">"The King and The Country", "Revista 22", 8 March 2006. Michael of Romania: The King and The Country (2005), which quotes Queen-Mother Helen's daily diary, the Romanian royal family 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 declassified Foreign Office documents that were the subject of news reports in 2005, when he left Romania, the exiled King Michael's only assets amounted to 500,000 Swiss francs."Exiled king 'should become pilot'", BBC News, 2 January 2005 Recently declassified Soviet transcripts of talks between Joseph Stalin and the Romanian Prime-Minister Petru Groza{{ro icon}} "King Michael in exile – from poultry grower to test pilot and broker", ROMPRES, 13 April 2005{{ro icon}} "King Michael in exile – from poultry grower to test pilot and broker", Jurnalul de Botosani si Dorohoi, 13 April 2005 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{{ro icon}} "Romania under King Michael I", the Royal Family website, as of 12 April 2008WEB,weblink Translation of King Michael's interview to Ziua daily, undated,, 27 October 2009, 30 July 2012, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 27 October 2009, {{ro icon}} ""NATO was more important militarily, but Europe is politically more than we realize now", states H.M. King Michael", Adevărul, 3 May 2005 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 in exile

File:Royal standard of Romania (King, 1922 model).svg|thumb|right|The standard of King Michael l]]Michael would never see his father again, after Carol II's 1940 abdication. Michael could see no point in meeting his father who had humiliated his mother so many times via his open affairs and did not attend his father's funeral in 1953.WEB,weblink Monique Urdareanu on Elena Lupescu and Carol II, 2 August 2016, bot: unknown,weblink" title="">weblink 13 June 2008, , Ziua, 14 January 2006In January 1948, Michael began using one of his family's ancestral titles, "Prince of Hohenzollern","Milestones", Time, 21 June 1948Nikita Sergeevich Khrushchev, Sergeĭ Khrushchev. Memoirs of Nikita Khrushchev: Statesman, 1953–1964, Pennsylvania State University Press, 2007, page 947, {{ISBN|0-271-02935-8}} 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.(File:King Michael I and Queen Anne of Romania.jpg|thumb|Former king Michael I and Princess Anne of Bourbon-Parma at their wedding, 1948.)On 10 June 1948 in Athens, Greece, he married Princess Anne of Bourbon-Parma (born Paris, 18 September 1923), his second cousin once removed. As Princess Anne was Roman Catholic, the couple asked for a dispensation from Pope Pius XII for the marriage. Negotiations with the Vatican broke down when Michael refused to promise to raise any future children Catholic, as it would have been deemed illegal under the Romanian Constitution of 1923. The dispensation was not given by the Pope and their marriage was not deemed valid by the Roman Catholic Church until 1966.JOURNAL, Eilers-Koenig, Marlene, The Marriage of King Michael and Queen Anne of Romania, European Royal History Journal, 11.3, LXIII, 3–10, Arturo E. Beeche, 2008, The couple lived near Florence, Italy, until 1948, near Lausanne, Switzerland, until 1950, and then in Hampshire, England, until 1956.WEB,weblink Viaţa Regelui Mihai în exil: fermier, pilot, şomer, broker. "Care a fost sentimentul la plecarea din România? Am plecat cu moartea în suflet", 22 December 2016, "EX-KING MICHAEL OF RUMANIA BECOMES MARKET GARDENER, 1953", British Pathe, as. Retrieved 17 October 2009 After that, the couple settled near Versoix, Switzerland, where they would live for the next 45 years. The Communist Romanian authorities stripped Michael of his Romanian citizenship in 1948.WEB,weblink Cum i-a fost retrasă cetăţenia regelui Mihai, 22 December 2016, During exile, Michael worked as farmer, pilot, entrepreneur and stockbroker. With his wife, he had five daughters born between 1949 and 1964.

Return and rehabilitation

On 25 December 1990—a year after the revolution which overthrew the Communist dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaușescu—Michael, accompanied by several members of the royal family, landed at Otopeni Airport and entered Romania for the first time in 43 years. Using a Danish diplomatic passport, Michael was able to obtain a 24-hour visa. He intended to reach Curtea de Argeș Cathedral, pray at the tombs of his royal ancestors and attend the Christmas religious service. However, on their way to Curtea de Argeș, the former King and his companions were stopped by a police filter, taken to the airport and forced to leave the country.NEWS, Sudetic, Chuck, Expelling Former King, Romanians Cite 'Stunt',weblink 30 July 2012, The New York Times, 27 December 1990, In 1992, the Romanian government allowed Michael to return to Romania for Easter celebrations, where he drew large crowds. Even though the Romanian government denied his request to give a speech from the Royal Palace (now the National Museum of Art of Romania),WEB,weblink Regele Mihai, de la interzicerea intrării în România la discursul istoric din Parlament, 22 December 2016, {{Dead link|date=July 2018 |bot=InternetArchiveBot |fix-attempted=yes }} his speech from a hotel room drew over a million people to Bucharest to see him.Kings Without Crowns Michael of Romania, Danish Norsk Television Michael refused the offer of the president of the National Liberal Party, Radu Câmpeanu, to run for elections as president of Romania. Michael's popularity alarmed the government of President Ion Iliescu, and he was forbidden to visit Romania, being denied entry twice in 1994 and 1995.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 then lived partly in Switzerland at Aubonne and partly in Romania, either at Săvârșin 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. Besides Săvârșin Castle, the former private residences Peleș Castle and Pelișor were also restituted. While Peleș and Pelișor are open to the public, Elisabeta Palace and Săvârșin are used as private residences. File:Elisabeta Palace front1.jpg|Elisabeta Palace, BucharestFile:01 Chateau Peles.jpg|Peleș Castle, SinaiaFile:Pelisor Castle, Sinaia.jpg|Pelișor Castle, SinaiaFile:CastelulSavar.jpg|Săvârșin Castle, Arad County

Later years

(File:Mănăstirea Sâmbăta King Mihai I.jpg|thumb|Fresco of King Michael I on the walls of Sâmbăta Monastery)(File:Michael I 2014 Romanian stamp 2.jpg|thumb|Michael I and Anne on a 2014 Romanian stamp)Michael neither encouraged nor opposed monarchist agitation in Romania and royalist parties have made little impact in post-communist Romanian politics. He took 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 was that there is still a role for, and value in, the monarchy today: "We are trying to make people understand what the Romanian monarchy was, and what it can still do [for them].""King Mihai I Turns 85", Ziua, 25 October 2006According to a 2007 opinion poll conducted at the request of the Romanian royal family, only 14% of Romanians were in favour of the restoration of the monarchy.{{ro icon}} weblink" title="">"NLP: Monarchy saves Basescu-mania" ("PNL: Monarhia salvează Băsescu-mania"), Cotidianul, 31 August 2008 Another 2008 poll found that only 16% of Romanians are monarchists.{{ro icon}} weblink" title="">"Monarchy: desired by only 16% of the population" ("Monarhia, dorită de doar 16% din populaţie"), Cotidianul, 21 September 2008 Michael himself, however, was shown to be much more popular personally with the Romanian people: In a July 2013 survey, 45% of Romanians had a good or very good opinion of Michael, with 6.5% thinking the opposite. The royal family also enjoyed similar numbers, with 41% having a good or very good opinion of it, and just 6.5% having a poor or very poor one.41% dintre romani ar vota pentru mentinerea republicii, 27,2% ar alege monarhia – INSCOP. Retrieved 2 August 2013.Michael undertook 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",weblink" title="">"The Watchtower: The king and the jester". Evenimentul Zilei, 18 December 2003{{ro icon}} ?weblink" title="">"Adrian Nastase received his prize from King Michael's hand, Adevarul, 17 December 2003 Michael awarded the "Man of The Year 2003"weblink" title="">"100 %". Talk Show on Realitatea TV, Prince Radu's website, 12 April 2004 prize to Prime Minister Adrian Năstase, leader of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), on behalf of the tabloid VIP.{{ro icon}} VIP – Advertising, The "VIP" website as of 22 July 2008 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'.On 10 May 2007, King Michael received the Prague Society for International Cooperation and {{ill|Global Panel Foundation|de}}'s 6th Annual Hanno R. Ellenbogen Citizenship Award, previously awarded to Vladimir Ashkenazy, Madeleine Albright, Václav Havel, Lord Robertson, and Miloš Forman.weblink" title="">"Hanno R. Ellenbogen Citizenship Award", On 8 April 2008, King Michael and Patriarch Daniel were elected as honorary members of the Romanian Academy.{{ro icon}} Communique, The Royal Family website, 8 April 2008{{ro icon}} weblink" title="">Patriarch Daniel and King Michael have become members of the Romanian Academy, Antena 3, 19 December 2007Michael 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.WEB,weblink Regele Mihai la Moscova, 22 December 2016, The name of Michael I is listed on the memorial in the Grand Kremlin Palace as one of only 20 recipients of the Order of Victory.In old age, Michael enjoyed a strong revival in popularity. On 25 October 2011, on the occasion of his 90th birthday, he delivered a speech before the assembled chambers of the Romanian Parliament. An opinion poll in January 2012 placed him as the most trusted public figure in Romania, far ahead of the political leaders.Romanians Have the Highest Confidence in King Mihai I. Later, in October 2012, celebrating Michael's 91st birthday, a square in Bucharest was renamed after him.Bucharest square to be named after Romania's King Michael on his 91st birthday {{Webarchive|url= |date=26 October 2012 }}. Retrieved 25 October 2012.On 1 August 2016, he became a widower when Queen Anne died at the age of 92.WEB,weblink Queen Anne of Romania – obituary, 22 December 2016,

Health issues and death

On 2 March 2016, the Royal Council announced King Michael's retirement from public life;WEB, Nume *,weblink 30 decembrie 1947 – Regele Mihai I al României este forțat să abdice | Radio România Cultural,, 23 August 1944, 5 December 2017, WEB,weblink Declarația Consiliului Regal, 2 martie 2016, Romanian Royal Family, 2 March 2016, with tasks assumed by Crown Princess Margareta, his daughter. After surgery, King Michael was diagnosed with chronic leukemia and metastatic epidermoid carcinoma and faced a complex and lengthy treatment.WEB,weblink Grav bolnav, Regele Mihai SE RETRAGE din viaţa publică, Gândul, Andrei Luca Popescu, 2 March 2016, In June 2017, the Royal House stated in a press release that "His Majesty's health is fragile but stable. King Michael is quiet, has soulful appreciation and appreciates the care of his medical team. Along with the King, they are permanently employed by His Majesty's House, detached in Switzerland, and two Orthodox nuns."At the end of August 2017, the Royal House announced that "King Michael is in a fragile but balanced state, and has a good mood," stating that Princess Elena had completed a visit to Switzerland for a few days next to King Michael, at the private residence. According to the Royal House, King Michael "continues to stay daily under close supervision of physicians, medical staff of various specialties, and in the presence of devoted members of the staff of His Majesty's House, stationed in Switzerland." Also, two Orthodox nuns, detached from the Romanian Orthodox Church, were still in the private residence.WEB, Nume *,weblink PORTRET: Regele Mihai I împlineşte 96 de ani. | Radio România Cultural,, 5 December 2017, (File:Bucuresti, Romania. Candele si flori pentru Regele Mihai I. Ultimul nostru Rege. 14 Decembrie 2017. (3).jpg|thumb|Tributes to King Michael in Bucharest, December 2017)On 5 December, Michael died at his residence in Switzerland at the age of 96.WEB,weblink Romania's former King Michael I dies at age of 96 - BBC News,, 12 July 2017, 5 December 2017, WEB, Clej, Petru,weblink Romania's King Michael: A democrat in the face of totalitarian regimes - BBC News,, 5 December 2017, NEWS, Murphy, Brian,weblink Michael I, last king of Romania and a Cold War exile, dies at 96, The Washington Post, 5 December 2017, His body was brought back by a military plane to Romania from Switzerland on December 13, first taken to Peles Castle at Sinaia in the high Carpathians, then to Bucharest, displayed at the former Royal Palace (now the National Museum of Art) for two days. Michael was buried on 16 December with full state honours in Curtea de Argeș Cathedral, beside his wife Queen Anne who died in 2016.WEB, King Michael: Romanians unite to mourn their last monarch,weblink BBC, Royalty at the state funeral included Charles, Prince of Wales, Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and Queen Silvia, Juan Carlos I of Spain and Queen Sofia, Princess Muna al-Hussein of Jordan,WEB,weblink World, Allied Newspapers, Ltd, Times of Malta, Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Maria Vladimirovna, Grand Duchess of Russia, Georg Friedrich, Prince of Prussia, Archduke Karl and Archduke Georg of Austria and Princess Astrid and Prince Lorenz of Belgium.WEB,weblink European royals come to Romania for King Michael’s funeral - Romania Insider,, WEB,weblink Romanians Pay Their Respects During King Michael's Funeral, 17 December 2017,weblink" title="">weblink 17 December 2017, yes, dmy-all, His body was transferred from Bucharest to Curtea de Argeș with the help of a funeral train, using the Royal Train and a repainted domestic-traffic carriage, being led by a diesel locomotive. His funeral is stated to have been one of the largest in Romania, comparable to the one of Corneliu Coposu in 1995.(File:CFR Bbd 84-83 005, King Michael I's funeral carriage in Grivița railway yards.jpg|thumb|The carriage that hauled Michael's body, still seen in May 2019 with the same livery it wore at the time of the funerals.)

Line of succession

{{see also|Line of succession to the former Romanian throne}}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 family. 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 Margareta as his heir.{{ro icon}} weblink" title="">"Princess Margarita, heiress to the throne of Romania," Evenimentul Zilei, 30 December 2007 The document has no legal standing, as it regulates an institution that is not extant anymore.{{ro icon}} "The King and Margareta – On The 'Day of the Republic' The King Designated His Successor", Jurnalul National, 2 January 2008{{ro icon}} "The Actor Duda in The Role of A Lifetime: Prince Consort of Romania," Cotidianul, 3 January 2008 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{{ro icon}} Filip-Lucian Iorga : "The Royal House of Romania does not have to remain tied to the shady side of the Hohenzollern family", Retrieved 14 May 2011 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, changed the name of his family to "of Romania", and gave up all princely titles conferred upon him and his family by the German Hohenzollerns.{{ro icon}} King Michael I announces the severance of all historical and dynastic ties to the House of Hohenzollern, Adevarul, 11 May 2011{{ro icon}} "The history of the conflicts between the Royal House of Romania and the Princely House of Hohenzollern", Adevarul, 11 May 2011On 1 August 2015, Michael signed a document removing the title Prince of Romania and the qualification of Royal Highness from his grandson, Nicholas Medforth-Mills, who was also removed from the line of succession. The former king took the decision "with an eye on Romania's future after the reign and life of his eldest daughter, Margareta". The former king hoped that "Nicholas will find in future years a suitable way to serve the ideals and use the qualities that God gave him". Nicholas's mother, Princess Elena, received notification of the former king's decision in a personal letter.{{ro icon}} Comunicatul Biroului de Presă al Majestății Sale, 10 August 2015

Personality and personal interests

Aged 16, when he was crown prince, Michael was the driver of a car that hit a bicycle; the cyclist died from the accident. The incident was censored in contemporary press, but appears in the official Censorship Records, and is confirmed by the memoirs of the former prime minister Constantin Argetoianu.Vlad Teodorescu (25 March 2013) weblink" title="">"Secrets of the car crashes caused by King Michael and Nicu Ceausescu," Evenimentul ZileiSorin Semeniuc (14 January 2013) weblink" title="">"King Michael's accident, the secret buried for 75 years", "7 Est" dailyMichael was head of the Romanian Boy Scouts in the 1930s.NEWS, Nog een foto van Kroonprins Michael van Roemenië, die onlangs aan boord van de torpedohoot "Principessa Maria" tijdens een zwaren storm in de Zwarte Zee in levensgevaar heeft verkeerd. Men ziet den Prins als leider der Roemeensche padvinders, in welke functie hij zijn vader, Koning Carol, op 2en Kerstdag de gelukwenschen namens de padvindersbeweging overbracht.
, Het nieuws van den dag voor Nederlandsch-Indië
, Nl
, 11 January 1938
, 29 August 2010,
He was passionate about cars,{{ro icon}} Andrei Săvulescu. weblink" title="">King Michael – Car Driver, Mechanic, Professional Pilot, Humanitas publishing house, Bucharest, 1996 especially military jeeps."King Michael of Rumania driving down steps leading out of Sinaia palace," Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images, 1 April 1946"King Michael of Rumania driving down steps leading out of Sinaia palace," Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images, 1 April 1946 He was also interested in aircraft having worked as a test pilot during exile.WEB,weblink King Michael air pilot,, 27 March 2013, ro, WEB,weblink Regele Mihai, în anii exilului: fermier, pilot de teste, broker,, 5 December 2017,
Shortly after the Second World War, he became interested in Moral Rearmament, which was introduced to him by his first cousin Prince Richard of Hesse-Cassel,BOOK, Petropoulos, Jonathan, 12 August 2008, Royals and the Reich: The Princes von Hessen in Nazi Germany, Oxford University Press, 365–366,weblink December 7, 2017, and as Swiss residents after 1956 he and Queen Anne paid numerous visits to the MRA conference centre of Caux, where he found solace for the loss of his country and his émigré status as well as new hope for future reconciliation.See for instance in the film "Crossroad, the story of Frank Buchman" (1974), towards the end (1:07 to 1:08), King Michael's speech describing his relation to Frank Buchman MRA historical films, last access on 7 December 2017.


{{more citations needed|section|date=December 2017}}Michael and Queen Anne had five daughters, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren:
  • Princess Margareta (b. 26 March 1949); she married Radu Duda on 21 September 1996.
  • Princess Elena of Romania (b. 15 November 1950); she married Robin Medforth-Mills on 20 July 1983 and divorced on 28 November 1991. They have two children. She married a second time, with Alexander McAteer on 14 August 1998.
    • Nicholas de Roumanie Medforth-Mills (b. 1 April 1985); he married civilly Alina Maria Binder on 6 October 2017.
    • Elisabeta-Karina de Roumanie Medforth-Mills (b. 4 January 1989)
  • Irina Walker (b. 28 February 1953); born Princess Irina of Romania. She married John (:sv:Torsten Kreuger|Kreuger) on 4 October 1983 and divorced on 24 November 2003. They have two children and three grandchildren. She married a second time, with John Wesley Walker on 10 November 2007.
    • Michael-Torsten de Roumanie Kreuger (b. 25 February 1984); he married Tara Marie Littlefield on 26 February 2011.
      • Kohen Kreuger (b. 28 March 2012)
    • Angelica-Margareta Bianca de Roumanie Kreuger (b. 29 December 1986); she married Richard Robert Knight on 25 October 2009.
      • Courtney Bianca Knight (b. 31 May 2007)
      • Diana Knight (b. 2011)
  • Princess Sophie of Romania (b. 29 October 1957); she married Alain Michel Biarneix on 29 August 1998 and divorced in 2002.
    • Elisabeta-Maria de Roumanie Biarneix (b. 15 August 1999)
  • Princess Marie of Romania (b. 13 July 1964); she married Kazimierz WiesÅ‚aw MystkowskiWEB, Marcin Niewalda,weblink Genealogy,, 5 December 2017, on 16 September 1995 and divorced in 2003.

Honours and awards

Dynastic honours

National state honours

Foreign honours

File:Kremlin plate.JPG|thumb|Plaque at the Grand Kremlin PalaceGrand Kremlin Palace

National awards

Foreign awards


As a great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria, through both of his parents, Michael was a third cousin of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, King Harald V of Norway, King Juan Carlos I of Spain, King Carl XVI Gustav of Sweden and Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom.In addition to being the claimant to the defunct throne of Romania, he was also a Prince of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen until 10 May 2011, when he renounced this title.WEB,weblink Genealogy of the Royal Family of Romania, 2 October 2006, bot: unknown,weblink" title="">weblink 23 December 2006, . Retrieved 2 October 2006 For most of his life, he would have been in line of succession to the British throne had he not married a Roman Catholic (though the ban on marriage to a Roman Catholic was lifted in the 2011 Perth Agreement along with the rule of male succession).John Burns, "British Monarchy Scraps Rule of Male Succession." New York Times, 28 October 2011.WEB,weblink Top 100 in line to the throne - Channel 4 News,, 5 December 2017, {{ahnentafelalign=center|boxstyle_1=background-color: #fcc;|boxstyle_2=background-color: #fb9;|boxstyle_3=background-color: #ffc;|boxstyle_4=background-color: #bfc;|boxstyle_5=background-color: #9fe;|1= 1. Michael I of Romania|2= 2. Carol II of RomaniaHelen of Greece and Denmark>Princess Helen of Greece and Denmark|4= 4. Ferdinand I of RomaniaMarie of Romania>Princess Marie of Edinburgh|6= 6. Constantine I of GreeceSophia of Prussia>Princess Sophia of Prussia|8= 8. Leopold, Prince of Hohenzollern|9= 9. Infanta Antónia of Portugal|10= 10. Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha|11= 11. Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia|12= 12. George I of GreeceOlga Constantinovna of Russia>Grand Duchess Olga Constantinovna of Russia|14= 14. Frederick III, German Emperor|15= 15. Victoria, Princess Royal}}

See also



External links

{{Commons category|Michael I of Romania}} {{Heads of State of Romania}}{{Romanian princes}}{{Authority control}}

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