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Michael I of Romania

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Prince Michael of Hohenzollern and Princess Anne
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Prince Michael of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (Romanian Mihai), formerly King Michael I of Romania (born October 25, 1921), was King of Romania from July 20, 1927 to June 8, 1930, and again from September 6, 1940 to December 30, 1947, when he was deposed by the Communist regime. He has lived in exile ever since. He is a great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria, a third cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, and one of the last living public figures from the World War II era.

Michael was born in Sinaia, Romania, the son of then Crown Prince Carol and Princess Helen (elder sister of King Paul of Greece) and grandson of King Ferdinand I. When Carol eloped with his Jewish mistress Magda Lupescu and renounced his rights to the throne in December 1925, Michael was pronounced heir apparent, and he succeeded to the throne on Ferdinand's death in July 1927.

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Michael as a child King

Since Michael was a minor, a regency was established, but in 1930 Carol suddenly returned to the country at the invitation of politicians who were dissatisfied with the regency, and was proclaimed King again. Michael was designated Crown Prince. In September 1940 the pro-German regime of Marshal Ion Antonescu staged a coup against Carol, who was considered anti-German. Michael was then proclaimed King, but as an 18-year-old he was unable to exercise any authority and served as a figleaf for the Antonescu regime. He already 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."

In August 1944, however, as the Soviet armed forces approached Romania's eastern border, Michael joined with pro-Allied politicians in staging a coup d'etat against Antonescu, who was arrested. Michael proclaimed Romania's loyalty to the Allies and declared war on Germany, but this was not enough to avert a Soviet occupation.

In March 1945, Michael was forced to appoint a pro-Soviet government dominated by the Communist Party of Romania. Under the Communist-dominated regime Michael was again little more than a figurehead. He was decorated with the Soviet Order of Victory, but in December 1947 the Communists announced the abolition of the monarchy, and Michael was forced to abdicate and soon after left the country.

Michael settled in Great Britain, later he lived in Switzerland, and in June 1948 he married Anne of Bourbon-Parma, with whom he had five daughters. He became a commercial pilot and worked for an aircraft equipment company. Although he maintains that his abdication in 1947 was made under duress, and that he is the lawful King of Romania, in exile he adopted the title Prince Michael of Hohenzollern (the Romanian royal family was orginally a branch of the German House of Hohenzollern).

Michael has not 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. But, he said, "Romanians have had enough suffering imposed on them to have a right to be consulted on their future." Since Michael has no son, and since the 1923 Romanian constitution did not allow women to inherit the throne, it is not clear what will happen to the Hohenzollern claim when Michael dies.

Michael was stripped of his Romanian citizenship in 1948, and became a Swiss citizen. In 1997, six years after the fall of the Communist regime, his citizenship was restored, and he was allowed to visit Romania. The King and the Royal Family moved back to Romania, living in a castle in Bucharest. The King allowed Romanian authorities to preserve the former Royal Castle Peles in Sinaia in exchange of 30 Millions EUR. The Romanian Royal Family is today one of the most important ambasadors of Romania across Europe, being supported by Romanian authorities in this purpose.


Preceded by:
Ferdinand
King of Romania
1927-1930
Succeeded by:
Carol II
Preceded by:
Carol II
King of Romania
1940-1947
Succeeded by:
'

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External links

See also

fr:Michel Ier de Roumanie nl:Michael van RoemeniŽ ro:Mihai al Rom‚niei

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