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Last ruling King of Romania, farewell!

I wanted my 3rd article on the blog to be something nice and fun about cool stuff and joyful events happening around the city. Unfortunately, the news on the 5th of December changed my initial intentions as it marked the history of the country with a painful event, the death of the last ruling Monarch of Romania. I will try to make the post as positive as possible though, referring to the good vibes and fine memories that were given to Bucharest and Romania thanks to the existence of the Monarchy and especially the late King Michael 1st.

It is definitely sad to think that a colourful chapter of our history is closing. A chapter that was opened back in 1866 by the first king of Romania, Carol the 1st, from the dynasty of Hochenzollern-Sigmaringen. He came from a small city in southern Germany, called Sigmaringen, and fought a war of independence for Romania, returning with a great victory. A lot changed around here ever since. Romania had 4 ruling kings in total, in between 1966 and 1947. This was one of the most prolific parts of the country’s history. The national identity started to shape during that time, Bucharest turned into the little Paris of the East and became an important landmark on the European map.

I will highlight some of the most interesting and intriguing stories about each king, impressive facts that link them to the country and to the city of Bucharest.

Carol the 1st: He settled the monarchy and was the first crowned king. One of the most down to earth gestures to reflect his attitude happened actually for his crowning, when he chose to have a simple crown made of the metal of a cannon captured during the war of independence. Nothing flashy or opulent for the new king. Victory Avenue is part of his heritage, being named like that in the memory of his impressive victory parade that followed after the independence war.

Ferdinand the 1st: He unified the country to its widest geographical size. After the first World War, Ferdinand became the unifier of the modern Romania. He is much appreciated for his loyalty to the country, choosing to enter the first World War against Germany, even though his roots were German. We have the Arch of Triumph in Bucharest as a memorial to that historical moment, with reliefs showing the face of Ferdinand and his wife Mary.

Carol the 2nd: The most controversial king, with a worldwide fame of a playboy monarch. He gave up the throne twice in order to pursue love affairs and flee away from World War 2. Even though progress was done during his reign as well, the most memorable stories about him are linked to the drama surrounding his personal life.

Michael the 1st: Michael was on the cover of Time magazine already as a child, because he became a child-king at the age of 7, an unusual situation for the monarchy. His childhood turned into a public affair because his father left the country and willingly gave up on the throne. That is how Michael ended up with two reigns in between his father’s departures and returns. The most important decisions for the history of the country and for World War 2 were taken in 1944 when he decided to turn arms against the Axis and go on the side of the Allies, decisions which ended the war a couple of months earlier. Unfortunately, the communist regime installed in Romania after the war forced him to abdicate and it was only possible for him to return to his home country after the revolution in 1989. He spent more than 40 years abroad and even found his ending on Swiss territory.

Michael was a loved king. It is easy to figure it out only by watching the people’s reaction whenever he had a public appearance in Romania, especially when he returned after the revolution. It turned out to be quite challenging to do so, and on the first trial he had to stay in a hotel on Victory Avenue, because all of the properties of the monarchy were still belonging to the state. He was warmly welcomed by the locals who gathered underneath his balcony with flags and cheering songs.

Another emotional event linked to the calm and respected personality of king Michael happened on the celebration of 90 years of age, back in 2011. He returned in the Romanian parliament where he had a memorable public speech that touched the hearts of many.

One of the most popular quotes from that speech is now displayed on many panels:

“I do not see today's Romania as a land taken as a legacy from our fathers, but rather as a land borrowed from our children.”

The future of the Monarchy

The Monarchy has been symbolical for the last 70 years and it is not very probable that it will ever return to power. King Michael was the last one to rule, and with his death a part of the history will remain just a glorious and controversial memory. He had 5 daughters and they will continue to represent the royal house. Currently the focus of the Royal House of Romania is on the events that will take place to properly honour the burial of the last king.

The program of the funeral can be found here

Rest in Peace, beloved King!

Nihil Sine Deo - the slogan of the Royal House of Romania


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