Romania's King Michael I, who ruled Romania before communists took over in mid-20th century, has died, taking with him the answers to some of the questions we all ask ourselves: what would have happened if he had refused to abdicate in 1947 and would he have faced the communists?? Why did he remove his nephew, former prince Nicholas, from the succession order? The passing of the last king of Romania, a heavily tried monarch, basically cancels out the possibility of restoring the monarchy and leaves behind a Royal House that seems unworthy of his memory.
King Michael the First has borne more than one can think of: setting up on the throne at an early age because of an reckless king-father, a world war he shortened because of his decision to turn his guns back against Germany, betrayal of allies and abandonment of his country in the Communist camp, forced abdication under the threat of the gun, painful exile, humiliation from the neo-communists of Ion Iliescu, Romania's first post-communist leader. He went through it all, hardened by the cherishing that many Romanians showed for him.
Has he missed a moment of heroism: when the Communists with arms in their hands forced him to abdicate, could he have done something else? Counterfactual history does not help us too much, but the question remains.
When he returned to Romania after the Revolution, the king had new blood beside him: in 1992 he presented the Romanians with Nicholas, his only nephew, who was only seven years old. Nicholas was his descendant, he was the one the King wanted to give his throne to, if the Romanians were to restore the monarchy by popular will.
The period of humiliation to which the King was subjected to by the Iliescu regime coincided with the highest popularity of the king, seen by more and more Romanians as an alternative to a republic captured by neo-communists. The entry of the Royal House followed in a transactional phase. The king gave his hand to Ion Iliescu and, through him, to the state of the security officers who had offended him for so many times. It was a compromise gesture felt by all those who supported him.
Too often tried in history, King Michael I allowed a crack in the solid foundation on which he built his moral statue. He began to get back the properties taken by the Communists, one at a time, under the smiles of the state security officers happy that they managed to subdue the symbol which put their status quo in jeopardy.
This period coincided with the growing influence of Prince Radu (former actor Radu Duda), the husband of Princess Margaret. The political engagement of those years culminated in the appointment of Prince Radu as the special representative of the Nastase Government, under President Iliescu, in the early 2000's to promote the image and interests of Romania in the world. The Republican sinecure for a Royal House base member was badly received by the sympathizers of the monarchy. The king seemed increasingly lonely in his moral austere posture.
The second decisive blow came from Prince Radu. The bizarre decision to run for president in 2009 has virtually invalidated the idea of a monarchy. From the short candidature adventure of Prince Radu, who quit this idea after half a year, we recall the enrichment of his own resume and his behavior with the journalists he then interacted with. It became increasingly clear that such a consort would never be respected and legitimized by the Romanian people. And Princess Margaret had no strength to oppose her husband's excesses.
Prince Nicolae entered the scene. A young man from England, speaking an approximate Romanian, but with new ideas. He immediately caught up with the generation that did not know King Michael except from books or sporadic TV documentaries. He gave an unexpected impulse to the Royal House. Nonconformist in the good sense, cycling, pizza consumer in the Royal Palace, fighter for social causes, Nicholas was exactly the opposite of Prince Duda.
Then came August 2015, when King Michael removed him steeply from the line of succession and stripped him of the title of prince. King Michael has never explained his decision. There have been rumors about Nicholas inadequate insights, about an unwanted child, about the lack of discernment of the young ex prince. The child also appeared in a year, but the young woman who claimed to have born Nicholas child did not even make the paternity test until now.
And the painful scene that definitively put the seal of a dysfunctional royal house was the expulsion of Nicholas from the gates of the house where King Michael lived his last days. Indecent fuss, complains to Swiss police - a history to forget. The outcome? Nicholas has not ever seen his grandfather since, and Princess Margaret has remained crown custodian along with her prince Radu.
Along with the removal (legitimate or not, we will not know too soon) of Nicholas in the line of succession of the throne disappeared any possibility of reinstatement by referendum of the monarchy. I watch the monarchy supporters forums and feel their mistrust in the couple Princess Margaret - Prince Radu. I do not think they will ever be able to regain the sympathy of the Romanians; I think they have no other purpose than to solve the lucrative issues of the Royal House. The death of King Michael I and the exit of Nicholas from the Royal House have closed for a long time the discussion of the monarchy in Romania.
PS: I observe, like all of us, the false piety and fake respect with which the political heirs of the security and communists mention King Michael I. While the king was an immaculate symbol, they humiliated him and kept him at the gates of the country. After being convinced that they also dragged him into the moral mud in which they struggle by definition, they don’t know how to pose more in pseudo-monarchists.