King Michael I of Romania, the reign and the exile
King Michael I of Romania is on the royal wedding guest list. He is going to be accompanied by Princess Margareta, his older daughter. They are among thirty other foreign royalties that would attend the wedding ceremonies of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
This event may bring back some dark memories from the time he, as a young king, got engaged. But instead of a royal wedding, as he and his fiance deserved, he was forced to abdicate, at the gunpoint. This tragic story did not take away his nobility. He became a stronger man and a king in exile, a father of five daughters, a patriot and an image of freedom.
In 1992, few days before Easter, he comes back in Romania and is received with great enthusiasm by ordinary people and great reserve and fear by political dignitaries. In a cold April day he meets the Romanians gathered on University Plaza. I was there too. Going through the mob to a platform set for the speech he reached out to us, touching our heads, hands or shoulders - the healing touch of the king.
King Michael's early years
Michael first became King of Romania in 1927, when he was only six year old, following his grandfather’s reign. His father, Carol, was not a desirable king because his amorous adventures. Married to Elena, princess of Greece and Denmark, Carol could not commit to his public and private duties. Soon after his son Michael was born, in October 25, 1921, he fell in love with a beautiful girl from Moldavian bourgeoisie named Magda Lupescu. He abandoned his country and family and went to Paris to live with his girlfriend. Later, he came back and reign as a King and Dictator on a short, painful and embarrassing reign.
Michael was just a kid when he was first proclaimed a king. But for three years, under the supervision of his uncle Nicolae, he learns his first lessons as a rulers. Those lessons would come in handy later on his life. And so was his childhood crafted, under a strict regency, without a father and with a mother that was not allowed to be part of her son’s state affairs.
The World War II
Unfortunately for Michael and for Romanians, his father returned in 1930 and took control over the throne. Two years later his former wife, Princess Elena, was sent in exile. Michael was now alone. He was going to school, learning about cars and aeroplanes and the military art. He did not know what life had prepared for him. His father reign for ten years (1930 -1940) under the name of King Carol II. The spark of the World War II found him befriending Mussolini and Hitler. In 1938 he assumed dictatorial powers and draw Romania in war by Italy and Germany. That was disastrous for the country because Romania lost some precious territories and Carol was made responsible for it. Under the pressure from government, in 1940 he give up his powers in the hands of General Antonescu who becomes the head of stat. Michael became king again with very limited attributes
But things can only get worse when a dictator replaces another. Continuous political disagreements and military disasters made Antonescu’s regime very unpopular and fragile. It only lasted four years and through a coup, in 1944, Michael took the power. He broke the alliance with the Axe and tried to make new agreements with England, Russia and US. At that time it was late for the country, it’s fate being already sealed. It was to be abandoned as a war casualty to communist Russia. But few people knew it and among them was not Michael or his government. Over the next four years, he tried to stabilized the country and deal with communist army that was infiltrating in politics and economy. There was little he could do. The post war negotiations were painful. Officially, Romania was placed under the Alliance protection but that only meant a slow transition from a free country to a occupied one, under the political and military rule of Communist Russia.
The last of the Kings
Michael I was still hopping to have successful life as a king, even if the beginning was harsh. At the end of the war he was 24 years old and his position required him to start looking for a queen. The perfect occasion for this delicate task came in the fall of 1947, when King Michael of Romania was invited to another royal wedding: the marriage of princess Elisabeth, the heiress of the throne of England with Philip Mountbatten. He and his mother spend almost a month at London and that time he met and consolidated a relation with Ana, princess of Bourbon-Parma. It is said that was love at first sight. He was a handsome young men, she was a beautiful young lady. They decided to marry and made their relationship public. But he had to ask permission from Romanian government first which was almost a formality in the time of pace. So he haded back with big plans. But the cold winter of 1947 was reserving King Michael a big surprise. Instead of the chief of government meeting him at his return he was encountered by soldiers. The same night he arrived at his palace he was forced to abdicate at gunpoint. He took on the exile road.
Michael was not a king anymore when he married princess Ana. But for her, he was the best man ever. They were in love. They lived in many countries before settling in Switzerland. They have five daughters. The oldest one, Margareta, married with Radu Duda, will accompany her father, the King Michael I of Romania, to the royal wedding.
P.S. Today Romania is not a monarchy anymore. The country is a republic and has a president as a head of the state. Michael I of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen is still considered a king by manypeople under the assumption thet his abdication was not legal.
For me he is going to be King Michael I of Romania forever.
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